Attracting new cardiology patients in a digital world
Because the average age of cardiology patients tends to skew older than other medical specialties, many cardiologists have been slow to adopt today’s digital marketing strategies with the misconception that seniors aren’t spending their time online. Yet, according to Pew Research, 93 percent of U.S. adults use the internet regularly1. In addition, 69 percent of adults between ages 50-64 and 40 percent of those above the age of 65 use social media, with Facebook and YouTube highlighted as the most popular platforms in these age groups2.
It’s also important to consider that cardiology patients may have younger family members making medical decisions and coordinating care on their behalf. These consumers also spend hours each day working, interacting and conducting business transactions in an online world. Since it’s clear that Americans across all ages are frequent internet users, cardiology practices need a sound digital marketing strategy to connect with patients of all ages.
Digital marketing can not only expand the reach of your cardiology practice, it can help streamline your marketing strategy and enhance your return on investment. Here are a few of the many benefits of implementing a strong digital marketing and advertising strategy.
- It’s budget-friendly. Unlike traditional tools such as print and broadcast advertising, digital marketing allows you to start with a modest budget and a limited commitment (e.g. just 1-2 months) while you determine what’s working and what isn’t. From there, you can scale up or down as often as needed.
- You’ll reach the right audience. One of digital marketing’s best benefits is helping marketers appeal to the perfect audience. With advanced targeting by age, demographics, and interests, you are more likely to reach prospective patients who need a cardiologist. Your digital strategy will deliver higher value since you’re not wasting impressions on people who don’t need your services.
- You can be nimble. Digital marketing requires shorter lead time production, so you can adjust your strategy as often as you need — switching out headlines, graphics, or copy with the click of a button.
- You can make informed decisions. With traditional marketing tools, it’s difficult to get the necessary data to know what’s working (and what’s not). With digital strategies, you can see how a campaign performs in real time. By understanding how many impressions, clicks and conversions an ad delivers, you can refine your strategy every step of the way, improving your return on investment.
Factors that drive new cardiology patient acquisition
A new diagnosis or sudden cardiovascular event that requires a patient to establish a relationship with a cardiologist can be a very overwhelming time. Today’s discerning patients (and their loved ones) take the decision very seriously, seeking input from numerous sources before choosing the cardiologist that’s right for them. Varying factors help cardiology practices attract new patients, including web presence and online reputation. When making this significant decision, here are a few top sources your prospective patients are likely to turn to while evaluating a new cardiology practice.
- The internet. If a prospective patient is looking for the best cardiologist, chances are, they’re turning to Google to help them find it. That means you not only need a stellar website design, but searchers also need to be able to find your practice. This part of the initial patient journey is where your search engine optimization (SEO) and local search marketing strategy comes into play. Optimizing your online presence can help your practice connect with patients who need a cardiologist, resulting in more new patients.
- Online review sources. Once they’ve narrowed their search, prospective patients are likely to turn to popular review sites such as Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Vitals, and others to check out your cardiologists’ online reputation. They’ll be looking carefully at your online reviews, Google star rating, and your overall patient sentiment. The cardiology practices with a strong online reputation management program will fare better with more positive online reviews, winning over more new patients.
- Referrals and word of mouth. While it’s less commonplace than it used to be, patients are still asking around for recommendations for a good cardiologist. At this point, it is key to maintain strong relationships with both referring providers and existing patients through regular communications and outreach. Keeping referring providers and established patients in the know about new providers, enhanced services, or advanced procedures you may offer can help keep your practice top of mind while helping you maintain a strong reputation both online and offline.
- Your access. Today’s savvy consumers don’t want to wait for much, but it’s especially true for those who need an important cardiology appointment. Ensuring new patients can easily book an appointment through online scheduling can help attract new patients who prioritize convenience and access. Cardiology practices should also consider working with referral sources to streamline access for new cardiology patients, which will strengthen those provider relationships and lead to more referrals over time.
Building your cardiology website and enhancing your online presence
In most cases, prospective patients who need a cardiologist are looking for the best of the best. After all, your heart is arguably the most important organ in your body, so most consumers won’t leave this decision up to chance.
That’s why winning over new cardiology patients requires a well-built website that features exceptional online performance (e.g. loads quickly, is mobile-optimized), a stellar design, and informative content that positions your practice as the local leader in cardiovascular care.
Cardiology website basics
Making a great first impression with your cardiology website is important. Get started with these important elements:
- A memorable design: Engage prospective cardiology patients with a top-notch design that reinforces your practice’s value proposition. If you’re known for innovation and advanced procedures, consider using high-quality clinical imagery (e.g. white coat providers, modern medical equipment, procedural photos, etc.). If your practice prides itself on compassionate care and connecting with patients, consider lifestyle imagery of patients living their best life (playing with grandchildren, golfing, socializing at every age, etc.) Either way, use professional photography and engaging content that will connect with your prospective patients.
- Provider bios: Let your prospective patients get to know your physicians and advanced practice providers by offering detailed bios that highlight their education, training, experience, and clinical interests. Consider providing more personable information. Share each provider’s patient care philosophy (how they like to work with patients, what is important to them in building patient rapport, etc.), personal interests, hobbies, etc. Think about stories prospective patients and online visitors will most likely connect with.
- Services/procedures: Highlighting and describing each condition you treat as well as all the procedures and services you provide will assure patients that you have the expertise to meet their clinical needs. At the same time, giving each condition, service, and procedure a dedicated page on your website will improve your online performance and let the search engines know what you do, which can improve your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
- Online patient reviews: Prospective patients evaluating cardiologists want to know what current patients have to say about the care you provide. By featuring online reviews and/or patient testimonials on your website, you can reassure patients that your providers and practice prioritize the patient experience and deliver exceptional care.
- Educational content: Today’s patients are seeking all the information they can find, so make your practice the go-to resource for valuable information that can help patients better manage their cardiovascular health. By featuring informative blog posts, heart health education, and informative videos on your cardiology website, you can signal to prospective patients that you’re committed to helping them improve their health, while also driving better search engine rankings through the addition of rich content.
- Call to action: Every page of your website should prominently display the practice phone number (with click to call functionality). Adding online scheduling will help convert website visitors into new patients by allowing patients to schedule at their convenience. Other potential calls-to-action could include: signing up for an email newsletter, following the practice on social media, subscribing to the practice blog, etc.
Boost your online presence: A guide for cardiologists
It takes more than a great website to stand out among the competition. You need to connect with prospective patients looking online for answers to common heart health-related questions or who may need a cardiologist but are unfamiliar with your practice. Think about your web presence going far beyond your URL. Increase the chances that your practice shows up wherever patients may be spending their time online.
Here are a few proven strategies to enhance your cardiology practice’s online presence:
- Establish and enhance profiles on online directories. When patients search for a cardiology practice, search engines often serve up popular directory sites that feature local businesses or healthcare providers, such as Google My Business, Yelp!, Vitals, Bing, Citysearch, and more. To help connect with prospective patients on these powerful platforms, claim your profiles and make them shine. Improving your profile means adding professional photos and providing details on your services while ensuring all your practice details are consistent, up-to-date etc. Enhancing these directory profiles can help your practice pique the interest of those searching for a cardiologist while also helping to boost your search engine rankings.
- Focus on content marketing. Delivering engaging and relevant content via email, blogs, and social media can add a significant boost to your online presence. Routinely publishing relevant content can help keep your practice top of mind, while also helping keep your cardiology patients informed and healthy.
- Implement a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. One of the most essential elements of your digital marketing strategy should be search engine optimization (SEO). SEO supports your patient acquisition and practice growth goals by driving more prospective patients to your website. Because most searchers choose from the first page of search engine results, optimizing your website and online presence for SEO is critical for new patient growth. Use common cardiology keywords and phrases throughout your site (e.g. ‘what is a pacemaker?’ or ‘common signs of heart failure,’ etc.)
- Optimize your online reputation. Your online reputation doesn’t just tell searchers what your patients have to say about you. It signals your relevance to Google and other search engines. Getting a steady stream of online patient reviews tells the search engines that your practice is frequented often and is relevant in the community - which means your practice is more likely to rise to the top of the search engine results page (SERP).
More on enhancing your online presence:
3 ways healthcare providers can build online presence
How to increase your healthcare practice’s online presence: 5 tips from our live learning session
Rising above the competition: Local search marketing and SEO
Nearly all online searchers choose from the first page of search engine results, but getting on there isn’t easy. Explore how search engine optimization (SEO) within a critical marketing strategy can help cardiology practices rise to the top of search results, attracting more website traffic and converting new patients.
While search engine optimization (SEO) is a complex tactic due to the search engine’s constantly changing algorithms, learn several proven strategies that can help cardiology practices land closer to the top of organic search results. Here are a few tried and true search engine optimization (SEO) tactics:
- Optimize your website for SEO. Your website tells the search engines a lot about your cardiology practice and what you do. The more information you give them, the better chance your practice will have of moving up the search engine results ranks. That’s why each service, procedure and treatment you provide should have a dedicated web page that heavily uses the keywords and phrases your patients are likely to use when searching for topics related to cardiology. This improves your authority and relevance with Google, which can help enhance your search ranking.
- Focus on Google My Business. Of all the online directories, Google My Business is the most important for local search. Cardiology practices that want to show up in the ‘local pack’ (the organic search results near the top of the page) need to claim and optimize their Google My Business page with consistent information, photos, and practice details for greater visibility.
- Improve your online reputation. Your online patient reviews tell search engines a lot about your practice, too. For example, Google assumes a practice that gets a steady stream of online reviews has local relevance and is, therefore, more likely to get served up in search results. In addition, your star rating helps Google match your practice with discerning searchers. That’s because their algorithm won’t list any practices with less than a 4.0 star rating in searches that include the term ‘best.’ (e.g. ‘best midtown cardiology practice). To avoid being left out of search results, implement a comprehensive online reputation management program that can increase the volume and frequency of reviews your cardiology practice gets. Implementing automated patient satisfaction surveys, keeping wait times down, and listening to your patients are all proven strategies to improve your online reputation.
More on search engine optimization:
Page 1 potential: 5 tactics to get your healthcare practice toward the top of search results
Why your healthcare practice may not show up in the Google Local Pack
Local SEO for healthcare practices: 5 questions from the PatientPop SEO learning session
The combination of personal connection and convenience: What cardiology patients really want
When it comes to patient satisfaction, today’s consumers want personal connection and convenience. Patients want to feel heard, they want access to communicate with their providers, they want questions answered promptly — and they’re also used to the conveniences of today’s modern world. Delivering on both personal and digital patient demands is a delicate balance, but one that will drive long-term patient loyalty and retention.
Building a personal connection
For most cardiology patients, finding a provider they connect with is important. According to PatientPop research, the number one thing patients want in a healthcare provider is a good listener. They also want prompt responses to questions and concerns. That’s why open and ongoing communication can help cardiology practices build trust and engagement. Here are a few tips for enhancing communication with cardiology patients.
- Let them know you’re listening. During each patient encounter, make eye contact and listen attentively. At the end of each appointment, consider summarizing all their concerns as well as their plan of care. Close with a statement such as, “Have I answered all of your questions today?” After each visit, send automated patient satisfaction surveys about their experience. By simply asking for their feedback, patients will know you’re listening.
- Reach out regularly. Staying in touch with your patients in between visits is an often overlooked engagement strategy that can help drive loyalty and retention. Consider sending email campaigns to keep patients informed about new providers, treatments and services, and operational updates. Likewise, use targeted messages to remind patients to schedule routine appointments or to share valuable information specific to their health concerns (e.g. heart failure, diabetes, etc.).
- Be accessible and responsive. Make it easy for patients to communicate with your practice and providers by offering a variety of options, such as telephone, email, text message, or via your patient portal. While younger patients and/or caregivers may prefer digital means of communication, remember that many patients will continue to opt for using the phone. Consider establishing practice “rules” for how quickly you will respond (i.e. within several hours, one business day, etc. and be sure you’re meeting your response time goals.
Delivering digital convenience
Regardless of your age, we’re all living in the digital era. We’ve grown accustomed to digital convenience in every facet of our lives, and healthcare should be no exception. According to PatientPop research, most patients prefer a digital experience (e.g. text message, online access or email) for these 5 key interactions with their cardiology practice.
- Asking the provider a question: More than half of patients prefer to ask questions digitally. This helps avoid the inevitable game of phone tag and allows patients to get their questions answered promptly.
- Paying their bill: The convenience of online bill pay is just one more way you can make it easier for patients to do business with your practice. Over half of patients surveyed said they’d prefer to pay their healthcare bills electronically.
- Scheduling an appointment: Online scheduling is in high demand with more than 60 percent of patients saying they’d prefer to schedule their appointments electronically.
- Filling out registration and other forms: More than 60 percent of patients want online access to complete their registration and fill out forms. Not only does it streamline their office visit, allowing patients to fill out paperwork online means they can bypass the waiting room and avoid the spread of illnesses, such as COVID-19 or the flu.
- Accessing health records: Today’s savvy patients want to maintain control of their health, with more than 60 percent saying they prefer to access their health records electronically. Providing patients (and their caregivers, when applicable) with access to their records via an online patient portal can improve patient satisfaction and patient retention, plus makes it easier for patients to communicate with their providers, request prescription refills, and manage their health condition(s).
A personal connection plus digital convenience is the apex of today’s patient experience. By giving patients more options, insight, and control over their health journey, you’ll be driving patient engagement, loyalty, and retention.
A cardiologist’s guide to content marketing
If your cardiology practice doesn’t have a content marketing strategy, you’re missing out on an opportunity to stay connected with your patients in between appointments. Content marketing is the practice of developing and delivering relevant and timely information related to the services you provide across numerous digital channels (e.g. video, blog, email, social media, etc.).
If you’re not sure where to start with content marketing, try to think about the questions your patients ask you most often. From heart-related symptoms to cardiology conditions, treatments and procedures, the more information you can develop that helps answer your patients’ most frequently asked questions can help you connect with both current and prospective patients.
Here are some cardiology-specific content marketing ideas to consider:
- A blog from one of your cardiologists highlighting the signs and symptoms of congestive heart failure.
- A web page explaining what to expect during a stress test or an echocardiogram.
- A physician Q&A about peripheral arterial disease.
- A Facebook post that highlights positive patient feedback or an online patient review.
- An engaging YouTube video explaining the many types of cardiac arrhythmias.
- A social media post highlighting tips for managing diabetes or hypertension
- A Twitter post highlighting a recent study related to cardiology.
- An email campaign featuring tips for managing atrial fibrillation.
Topics to consider: To help you get started, here’s a list of common pain management topics to consider for your next content marketing campaign(s).
Common cardiology symptoms and conditions
- Atrial fibrillation
- Autonomic dysfunction
- Chest pain
- Congestive heart failure
- Coronary artery disease
- Heart attack
- Heart disease
- Heart murmur
- Heart palpitations
- High cholesterol
- Hypertension/High blood pressure
- Leg pain and swelling
- Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Shortness of breath
- Varicose veins
Common cardiology procedures and treatments
- Cardiac PET scan/Cardiac CT/Ultrasound testing
- Cardiology consultation
- Cardiology diagnostic testing
- Carotid IMT
- Heart health screening
- Heart disease treatment
- Pacemaker/Pacemaker placement
- Preventive cardiology
- Heart disease reversal
- Lipoprotein(a) management
- Stress testing
- Supraventricular tachycardia
- Vascular ultrasound
- Vein center
- Women’s heart health
Just remember to think like a patient! That means avoiding medical jargon and using the keywords and phrases that patients are most likely to search for online.