Digital marketing and advertising strategies aren’t new. But they are often underutilized by medical specialty practices, who’ve spent decades relying on primary care referrals or word-of-mouth recommendations.
That’s because today’s patients have driven a behavioral shift: They’re acting as savvy healthcare consumers who want to choose their own doctors, and do the research to find the right provider for their needs. Research tells us that three out of four patients have looked online to find a healthcare provider or care.
3 ways to grow your podiatry practice
Many physicians looking to grow their podiatry practice focus exclusively on attracting new patients. However, acquisition is only one component of sustainable practice growth. Any podiatry practice needs to employ three critical strategies:
- Attracting new patients: Bringing new patients in the door is critical to achieving practice growth goals. Podiatry practices looking to maintain a steady progression of new patient visits should develop a comprehensive patient acquisition strategy, with realistic growth targets.
- Retaining existing patients: Smart business owners know it costs more to attract a new customer than to keep one. For that reason, and to help encourage current patients to share their positive experiences with others, implementing a patient engagement and retention strategy should be a top priority for practices.
- Driving productivity and practice efficiency: Improving productivity through the use of automation and digital tools can help busy podiatry practices grow without adding new staff or straining resources. Modern practice management tools also improve the patient experience by making it more convenient for patients to connect and do business with your podiatry practice.
By expanding your podiatry practice growth strategy beyond patient acquisition, you’re more likely to achieve business goals and experience growth.
To ensure your practice stays on track to meet those goals, consider adopting a practice growth platform. This brings your practice a single technology solution to help manage your operations while tracking the key performance indicators that define your practice’s success.
7 steps to attracting and retaining podiatry patients
1. Build and maintain your practice website.
Your website often acts as a prospective patient’s first impression of your podiatry practice and can influence their decision to book an appointment.
Make sure your site is easy to use, loads quickly, looks and works great on mobile devices, and features all the information a patient needs to know about your podiatry practice. This includes detailed information on your providers, your services and the conditions you treat, and essential information such as your location and office hours.
Finally, use online scheduling to make it easy for any site visitors to convert into new patients. Sixty-eight percent of patients say they’re more likely to choose providers that offer the ability to book, change, or cancel appointments online.
2. Expand your online presence.
Although it’s the foundation of your online brand, your website is just one element of your larger web presence. Look beyond your URL to attract new patients by claiming and optimizing your online profiles on popular listings sites such as Google My Business, Yelp, Vitals, Citysearch and WebMD. Wherever your prospective patients are spending time online, find a way to be there — that could be via paid search, digital advertising, blogging, or sponsored social media posts. These strategies will help you generate awareness for your practice and connect with more new patients.
3. Develop a social media strategy.
Social media content can help podiatrists cover a lot of business ground online. A regular output of social media posts can inform and attract new patients, reinforce your brand, boost online presence, build practice and provider credibility, and enhance online reputation.
More than 75 percent of Americans use at least one social media platform, and three-quarters of marketers feel the use of social media has helped their business. While Facebook is the most popular social media site across the board, Twitter and LinkedIn can also be good outlets for podiatrists to connect with referring providers in a digital world. Regardless of the channels you use, keep in mind that video is a highly effective tool on social media, with U.S. adults watching an average of 4.9 hours of YouTube videos per week.
4. Focus on search engine optimization (SEO).
Ensuring you can be found easily in a digital world is arguably one of the most powerful marketing tools your podiatry practice can invest in. Since most patients look for healthcare providers online, your practice must show up in search results toward the top. If not, chances are you’ll be out of the running with prospective patients.
Search engine optimization (SEO) helps you connect with patients by using the content and information offered on your website and other locations to increase website traffic and drive practice awareness. By including keywords that relate to podiatry (e.g. foot/ankle pain, hammertoes, bunions, flat feet), and highlighting your key services, your website and online profiles can help your practice rise to the top of search results.
5. Implement a local search strategy.
When looking for a business online, all searches are local. Even when a searcher doesn’t specify a location in their query, Google knows people don’t want to travel far for a grocery store, gym, or doctor’s office.
In response, search engines will serve up results that fall within a geographic area within close proximity to the searcher. While you can’t modify your practice’s physical location, you can help to ensure your practice does show up in local search. Most important is to make sure your practice name and address are consistent across all online assets, including your website and online profiles. This will improve your chances of showing up in the Google Local Pack, the most prominent placement near the top of organic search results. This presence will drive more traffic to your website and help you attract more new patients.
6. Build a stellar online reputation.
Your podiatry practice’s online reputation is word-of-mouth for the digital age, and its power can’t be underestimated. Seventy-one percent of patients check reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor and today’s patients are not choosing providers with poor online reviews.
In fact, 74 percent of patients consider positive reviews very or extremely important when choosing a healthcare provider. To improve your online reputation, consider implementing a comprehensive reputation management program that begins by deploying automated patient satisfaction surveys.
Focus on improving your Google star rating by amassing a greater volume of reviews (most patients share positive experiences in reviews), offering exceptional service, and delivering the modern conveniences today’s patients are looking for (online scheduling, telehealth, text messaging). PatientPop research indicates that 69 percent of patients won’t consider a provider with an average star rating of lower than 4.0 out of 5. And, many of today’s discerning patients are taking that even further: Nearly one in five patients only consider providers with a minimum of 4.5 stars.
7. Focus on strengthening the patient/provider relationship.
Today’s patients aren’t afraid to say what they want. In our 2021 patient perspective survey, patients said what they want most from a healthcare provider is “a good listener.” From there, they prioritize short wait times, prompt responses to questions and concerns, and digital access to the practice, such as online scheduling and online health records.
Podiatrists who focus on improving the patient experience while building patient rapport and engagement can drive loyalty and improve patient retention. As part of that engagement, consider streamlining the patient experience by automating appointment reminders, and then offering a link in those reminders to digital registration and intake paperwork.
To signal that you’re listening to your patients, implement automated patient satisfaction surveys. Other patient-centric strategies include enhancing communication by offering text messaging and deploying regular email communication, which can keep your practice top-of-mind in between visits.
When used together, these strategies can help podiatry practices achieve their full growth potential — without spending a fortune on traditional marketing and advertising tactics, or adding new staff. You’ll not only connect with more new patients, you’ll keep current patients satisfied and coming back.