4 ways doctors can outpace their competition online

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If you’re not focusing your healthcare marketing efforts online, you’re missing out. That’s because most people (74.6 percent) have looked online to find out about a doctor, dentist, or medical care.1

Even patients who have received a referral will check out a doctor’s web presence because they want to make an informed decision about their care. In fact, 91 percent of patients always or sometimes conduct additional research after receiving a referral from a healthcare provider.2

Use this whitepaper to better understand what you must do to enhance your online presence, so you can outpace your competition.

4 ways doctors can outpace their competition online

1. Build a modern healthcare website

Nearly two-thirds of small businesses (64 percent) have a website.3 But simply having a healthcare website isn’t enough to get you noticed. Read on to determine the boxes your healthcare website must check in order to wow prospective patients.

Show patients what you have to offer

Your healthcare website introduces patients to your practice, so make a great first impression. Give them a sleek, informative website that provides an outstanding user experience.

Almost all web users (94 percent) consider navigation the most important website feature.4

Therefore, it’s important to organize content in a classic structure that’s easy to follow.

Nearly one-third of marketers (32 percent) cite visual images as the most important form of content for their business,5 so your healthcare website should feature visuals prominently. Sharing quality images and short videos of your staff and office space on your site allows patients to envision themselves receiving treatment.

Choose a responsive website design

Patients view your healthcare website on a variety of devices — i.e. laptop, desktop computer, smartphone, tablet — and you want everyone to have the same outstanding experience. Responsive website design automatically adjusts to fit the size of the screen on which the site is viewed.

An estimated 141.9 billion local searches will be performed in the U.S. on mobile devices in 2019.6

This is more than double the 62.3 billion searches expected on desktop computers, but both numbers are substantial. Therefore, the importance of responsive website design that easily serves everyone cannot be emphasized enough.

Offer online scheduling

Modern patients are busy people who want to schedule doctor’s appointments at their convenience. In fact …

56.4 percent of people are frustrated by having to wait on hold to book an appointment and only being able to schedule appointments during inconvenient office hours.7

Therefore, it’s not surprising that 68 percent of patients are more likely to choose a provider who offers the ability to book, change, and cancel appointments online.8 Clearly, including an online scheduling tool on your healthcare website will give you an edge on competitors who don’t offer the same convenience.

2. Expand your web presence with directory listings

Your web presence isn’t limited to your healthcare website. In fact …

50.5 percent of people say information found on other websites helps them form opinions of healthcare providers.9

To ensure all prospective patients are finding accurate, helpful information about you and your practice, optimize your listings on business and healthcare directories.

Claim your listings

Think of online directories as the yellow pages of the digital age. Prospective patients use directories to find basic information such as your address, phone number, business hours, and services.

It’s vital to claim your listings on all online directories. The difference between a claimed and unclaimed listing is huge because information on an unclaimed listing is unverified. Often, important details are listed incorrectly, which could cause you to miss out on prospective patients. Claiming your listings allows you to make sure all information is updated and also gives you the ability to add photos that help build your brand and attract patients.

There are dozens and dozens of online directories, so prioritize those that patients use most: Google (48.8 percent), WebMD (32.8 percent), Yelp (22.8 percent), Healthgrades (21.8 percent), and Facebook (16.8 percent).10 Then, use practice growth software to quickly scan all other directory listings. Using technology to conduct this audit is more efficient and will help you get the best idea of how much work needs to be done.

Offering scheduling from third-party sites

Enhance your web presence by allowing patients to schedule appointments online from business and healthcare directory sites wherever possible. This makes it easier than ever for patients to book appointments because they don’t have to navigate elsewhere.

Your patients are busy people, so making scheduling quick and convenient is key. This can help you attract more new patients than your competitors.

3. Prioritize online reputation management

Your practice is only as good as its online standing. However …

47.6 percent of healthcare providers say they’re not sure how to positively affect their reputation.11

Healthcare reputation management is multifaceted. Staying in touch with patients to see how you’re doing and carefully monitoring what they’re saying about you will help you stay on top of healthcare reputation management.

Send automated patient satisfaction surveys

Collecting patient feedback via automated patient satisfaction surveys is a great way to find out what you’re doing well and where there’s room for improvement. Additionally, surveys might inspire some patients to share their opinions publicly with a wider audience.

If they do choose to write a review, this can be beneficial to your practice. Nothing speaks stronger to the quality of your care than a glowing review from a current patient.

Patient satisfaction surveys also make people feel valued. Requesting feedback shows patients you truly care and want to do your best by them.

Reach out to unsatisfied patients

More than three-quarters of healthcare providers (76.1 percent) worry about receiving negative reviews from patients — and 41 percent are extremely concerned.12

If you share this sentiment, it’s time to stop dreading these reviews and start viewing them as opportunities to rebuild relationships.

Every unsatisfied patient won’t leave a review, but those who do are giving you an opportunity to make things right. When appropriate, it’s best to graciously reply to negative reviews publicly and to reach out privately to make things right. 

When a patient’s negative feedback is addressed by the practice, their rate of satisfaction roughly doubles to 99 percent.13 Taking the time to reply to an unsatisfied patient is crucial to your online reputation management because it shows you care.

4. Publish original content on a blog and social media

Engage your patient base with compelling content designed to meet their needs. Crafting relevant blog posts will build trust and present you as an authority in your field. 

Additionally, maintaining an active healthcare social media strategy will raise your profile. This will help you stay in touch with existing patients and connect with new ones.

Create a robust healthcare social media strategy

Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of U.S. adults use some form of social media.14

To further break it down, 69 percent are on Facebook, 37 percent have an Instagram account, and 22 percent use Twitter.

Cleary, your patient base is on social media, so this is the place to get in front of them. Posting content tailored to meet their needs on a regular basis will keep them engaged.

Frequently seeing your healthcare social media accounts appear in their news feeds will keep your practice at the top of their minds. This will deepen your connection and could help boost patient retention rates. Additionally, it could help patients remember to schedule routine exams.

Start a blog

More than half (55 percent) of marketers cite blog content creation as one of their company’s top priorities.15

Posting well-written, informative content on a regular basis will keep your patient base coming back for more tips, tricks, and best practices.

Blogging can also improve your search results and position you as a thought leader in your field. This initiative requires a time investment, but it’s well worth it.

Posts written for your blog can — and should — be repurposed into your healthcare social media content. This allows you to maximize your reach and get the most from each piece.

Most busy doctors don’t have time to do their day jobs and complete the work that’s necessary to outpace competitors online. That’s where PatientPop comes in. An all-in-one practice growth solution, PatientPop helps doctors build a robust, widespread online presence, allowing them to outshine their competition online and attract more patients. For more information, visit patientpop.com.

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4 ways doctors can outpace their competition online