Over the last decade, there has been a dramatic change in how consumers find healthcare solutions. The internet is now the top resource for health-related questions1, with one-third of US consumers reporting that they turn to and trust social media for information on healthcare, symptoms and physicians.2
Practitioners looking to grow their business can gain from the industry’s digital drift by increasing their visibility and accessibility online. A robust digital presence can translate into a larger patient base and long-lasting relationships with existing patients. When establishing an online presence, there are three fundamentals to focus on:
1. Create an informative and easy-to-use website
A quality website for your practice is the foundation of a successful online presence. The more useful and engaging your website is to consumers, the higher it will rank in search results. Think of your site’s value in terms of the content you post there and the convenience it provides. A user-friendly, mobile-compatible interface, with clear channels for visitors to contact you and schedule appointments, brings increased traffic which converts into new patients. It can also deepen relationships with existing patients. According to a 2012 study, patients who interact with their physician online average more office visits.3
2. Build a social media following by being active
Social media can be a highly effective way to boost your visibility and reach new patients. But the benefits of social networking come to those who interact not just with the platforms but with other media users. It’s essential to have a two-way conversation online. By all means, post useful articles and offer expert insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. But remember to solicit and respond to feedback and comments on your posts too. It’s not just about visibility—it’s about accessibility.
Active engagement can help position you as a valuable resource in your field and an advocate for colleagues and patients. Keep your contact information up-to-date on all social media platforms. Consistently link back to your practice’s website and encourage dialogue. This will ultimately contribute to higher rankings in search results, and will increase your appeal and credibility to prospective patients.
3. Invite and manage online reviews
Online review forums have become one of the most valuable and frequently used resources for consumers seeking services and products. Ratings on review sites can have a tremendous impact on a practitioner’s business.
- 80% of consumers go online first when evaluating a medical provider2
- 76% of consumers trust online reviews when searching for a doctor3
- 61% use online reviews before choosing a doctor4
- 20% use online reviews to evaluate their current doctor5
ZocDoc, an online service for finding medical care providers, found that each half-star improvement on a provider’s profile brought an average 37% increase in appointments.1 Channel the power of review platforms by encouraging satisfied patients to post feedback, and then highlight their praise on your website and in social media.
1 ZocDoc. Marketing for Healthcare Providers. Published February 2013. Accessed August 9, 2016
2 Fox S, Rainie L. The Search for Online Medical Help. Pew Research Center. http://www.pewinternet.org/2002/05/22/main-report-the-search-for-online-medical-help/. Published May 2002. Accessed August 9, 2016.
3 Anderson M. 2013 Study: 79% Of Consumers Trust Online Reviews As Much As Personal Recommendations. Search Engine Land.http://searchengineland.com/2013-study-79-of-consumers-trust-online-reviews-as-much-as-personal-recommendations-164565. Published June 2013. Accessed August 9, 2016.
4Reputation Management: How Physicians Can Take Control Of Their Online Reviews. Capson. http://www.capson.com/blog/medical-melpractice-blog/reputation-management-how-physicians-can-take-control-of-their-online-. Published April 2015. Accessed August 9, 2016.
5 Pennic F. Survey: Yelp Most Popular Site for Online Physician Reviews. http://hitconsultant.net/2014/11/18/yelp-dominates-online-physician-reviews/. Published November 2014. Accessed August 9, 2016.