No matter your specialty, all medical practices need to continually look to add new patients. For a practice to grow, studies have shown you need to see between 30 and 50 new patients every month. Plus, you need to keep your existing patients happy and loyal.
Since we’ve been helping medical practices grow for over 20 years, at Advice Media you could say we know a thing or two about this stuff. And it’s not all from the digital marketing world, although that is where we believe all practices need to place most of their marketing focus.
In this July blog, let’s get into a few things you need to do to build your patient list.
Who is your patient?
Before you consider marketing, you need to know who you’re talking to. You need to know your practice’s target audience. Your location likely creates a much different patient profile than another city or town or even a different area of town. Delve into your current patient list and break it down by your averages for age, gender, profession, and where they are coming from.
Get ready internally.
You know this, but before you try to expand your patient list, your staff needs to be ready. Remember, they are your first point of interaction with patients. All of your staff members should be familiar with all of the treatments and services you offer. They should be able to answer questions about procedures and about your medical background and training. Plus, they should all be “people” people, making interactions with patients pleasant and comfortable.
How’s your website?
At Advice Media, we were building the internet’s most engaging, responsive medical websites long before anyone had heard of search engine optimization. Our sites are seamless, whether viewed on a desktop or on mobile devices. While the functionality changes on mobile devices (becoming more streamlined), there’s no mistaking it’s the same practice you’re looking at. If your practice website was designed by a firm or individual not well-versed in both design and search engine optimization, it’s likely not mobile-friendly. That’s killing your practice, as most patients now conduct their searches on mobile devices.
From the early days, we’ve been big on our practice websites featuring a blog. People think of blogs as personal essays on anything from running marathons to cooking, but we have our practices use their blog to post about their procedures, treatments, areas of focus, trends in the field, and the like. Blogs are an important and easy way to continually add new content to your site, and this improves your ranking in organic search. It also gives your patients another area to find information about your treatments and procedures.
We’re also big proponents of your practice having a social media presence. This includes a Facebook practice page and an Instagram account. Whatever you feel about social media personally (and there’s much to dislike), it’s different when used as a practice. Social media allows your patients to see a different side of your practice, a more informal side. It allows you to engage with patients beyond the medical world. All of this interaction also boosts your practice in search. The key to social media is consistently posting engaging content.
Be a part of the community.
Your practice should be more than simply a place where people get their skin checked, their teeth cleaned, their health monitored, and the like. It should be a part of the community. If you’re an orthopedic practice, offer your services to the local high school football and soccer teams, or become a sponsor of a local 5k race. After all, many of those runners will need your services one day! If you’re a dentist, offer custom mouthguards to the local youth hockey league. If you’re a dermatologist, offer free skin screenings at the local senior center. The opportunities are endless, and they make your patients feel good about you being their healthcare provider.
Keep an eye on your online presence.
The days of your reputation all coming from word of mouth at work or in the neighborhood are over. Today, your reputation is formed mostly online. That comes from review sites and from patients commenting on your social media pages. You need tools to help you know when a new review has been posted on a review site such as Yelp or RealSelf. And you need to respond to those reviews. That’s obvious if you receive a bad review, as you need to show you are responsive to the patient’s problem. More involved responses to bad reviews need to happen by email or phone directly with the patient. But when the situation is resolved, encourage the patient to amend his or her post to acknowledge their satisfaction. If the review is good, simply thanking and acknowledging it is important.
Medical practices often don’t understand that email marketing isn’t just for businesses that sell products. We’re not talking about the daily email you get forevermore from every company you buy a product from online. We’re talking about using email as a monthly source of information for your patients. You can describe a new treatment you just added to your practice. You can talk about any specials you may have. You can talk about trends in your specialty. Plus, use email as a follow-up to thank patients for coming to your practice. Also, use it as an appointment reminder.
Refer and be referred.
Referrals are important for any medical practice, but you can think beyond the obvious. Sure, if you’re a GP, you need to be able to refer patients to specialists such as cardiologists. But you also can refer away from your specialty. For instance, if you’re a dermatologist it makes sense to have a plastic surgeon you can refer patients to when they’re complaining about their aging, sagging skin. That plastic surgeon can refer back to you when he or she spots a lesion that could be skin cancer.
These are just a few ways to boost your practice patient list, all the while keeping your current patients happy and loyal to you. Some of these things can seem daunting, such as website design, optimizing that site for organic search, and other aspects of the digital marketing world. That’s where we come in. At Advice Media, we’ve been at the forefront of digital marketing from the beginning. As a Google Partner, we know changes coming to search before they’re even made public. And we can put that experience and expertise to work building your practice. Give us a call or fill out a contact form and let’s talk.