Telehealth has moved into the forefront of healthcare with a speed and impact rarely seen in the industry. It has taken a pandemic to accelerate the use of virtual care, but it now has a widespread presence. Current forecasts estimate a 64.3 percent growth in telehealth for 2020, with hundreds of millions of visits nationwide.
If you have a telehealth strategy at your practice — and you should — where does telehealth marketing come into play? It’s a must. The level at which you choose to promote your telehealth offering depends on the role it plays at your practice. For this blog post, we’ll assume you use telehealth each day and have open slots you wish to fill.
The tenet for any medical marketing is simple: Patients can’t find your practice if they don’t know you exist. The way to promote your practice, your brand, and your services is to take a basic multi-pronged approach. This applies to any service, but based on recent change and demand, we’ll talk about telehealth.
Using your website to drive telehealth marketing
Your website is the piece of internet real estate you can control the most. Use that to your advantage by conveying exactly what you’d like prospective patients to know when they arrive at your site.
If you have a carousel of images and information on your homepage, dedicate one panel to a simple message of “telehealth now available” or “video visits now available.” To get more creative with your copy, try something like “see your doctor from the comfort of home.”
Consider bringing greater visibility to your telehealth offerings with any of the following website elements:
- Promoting telehealth in an ad-type space
- Adding a telehealth “pop-up” module to your site
- Implementing a “sticky” message that remains persistent on the screen as patients scroll
- Devoting a lower section of your homepage to a telehealth message
After you determine how to bring focus to virtual visits on your homepage, your next telehealth marketing strategy is even more important. Add a separate telehealth page to your site.
Ideally, your practice website already lists each care service you provide on its own page. This method of website organization is essential for your search engine optimization (SEO), with each page sharing your expertise in that particular condition or service, with room to answer common questions.
Here’s where telehealth becomes part of your overall strategy. Treat the telehealth services page just as you would any other services page on your website:
- Address questions you’re most likely to hear from patients
- Describe why you offer telehealth and how patients can benefit
- Offer specifics as to how and when patients can see a provider virtually
Remember two key communication points for any healthcare services page: 1. Tell patients why your practice is the right choice for that service. 2. Offer patients guidance on what to do next — most valuable is how to book an appointment, preferably using an online scheduling tool for convenience.
Optimizing your online listings for telehealth marketing
You and your practice are featured across potentially dozens of websites that list local businesses and medical practices. According to a PatientPop 2020 patient survey, the sites that patients visit most often to check a provider’s online reviews are Google, WebMD, Yelp, and Healthgrades.
First and foremost, your information must be accurate and consistent across these sites. This ensures that inquiring patients have the right contact details, but it’s also an SEO necessity.
In addition, you can use these sites as excellent telehealth marketing outlets. They provide a free opportunity to highlight and emphasize your telehealth offerings.
Make sure you’ve already claimed each listing as your own, and then add specific information related to telehealth. These can include adding “telehealth” to your list of products and services, and providing a link directly to your telehealth website page.
Work with the functions that each website allows to clearly tell patients you offer virtual visits. As an example, in April 2020, Google added two timely information links that practice owners can add to their Google business profile: COVID-19 information and telehealth information.
Side note: If you haven’t already claimed and optimized your practice’s Google business listing, do it today. Since late 2016, Google has owned 88 percent of the search engine market share in the U.S., so it’s where most patients go when searching for care. To claim your listing, go to google.com/business.
For a step-by-step video on how to claim and optimize your Google profile, watch Using Google My Business to connect with more patients.
Sending email campaigns to your current patients
Now that you have initial strategies to attract new patients, devote some time to your current patient base. They want to hear from you, especially during times of stress and medical uncertainty. In an April study by the Associated Press, two-thirds of people said they rely most on their doctor for COVID-19 information.
Be proactive. Send an email marketing campaign to your established patients. Practices that place a premium on patient communication use email as a cost-effective method to share:
- preventive health tips
- practice details, such as hours or new providers
- upcoming information sessions (ideal for pediatricians or OB-GYNs)
- alerts for recommended vaccinations
All of the above help you keep patients informed, healthy, and happy with your practice. By adding a telehealth email to your schedule, you can help increase bookings, especially with patients who no-show often or may delay visits.
In your email, tell patients that virtual visits are available and what they can expect, why your practice is offering telehealth, and how they can request an appointment — preferably with a single click or tap from the email.
Consider these the basic tips for telehealth marketing. You can also delve into a deeper SEO strategy, implement a social media communication schedule, and invest in paid Google ads. This all depends on your local competition, your resources, and the specific goals you wish to accomplish.
If you’re like most practices across the U.S., you’re now booking more in-person appointments. This is the time to use telehealth more strategically. As long as payers and state regulations allow for the expanded use of virtual care, practices can consider the best days, times, providers, and use cases for telehealth.
You have a practice growth strategy, with an understanding of the services and visit types you want to prioritize. With 74 percent of patients now comfortable with a virtual visit, consider telehealth a major piece of that evolving picture, and place telehealth marketing at the fore of your online presence.