I am sure you already know how your prospective patients learn about you. Let me refresh the reason and share the specific strategies you need to implement to convert those prospects into patients.
How prospective patients learn about you:
I am sure the information about how your prospective patients become aware of you and your services is nothing new, but let me share specific strategies that you can employ for these prospects to maximize their conversion to your patients.
Who will typically Google for a healthcare provider? - Your prospects who are searching for you on Google are generally educated, belong to the middle-class or higher income bracket capable of paying for your services (have good health insurance or can pay cash), and are likely to do a lot of due diligence when looking for a provider. The only exception would be for prospects who are facing a major emergency, in which case they will search for the closest provider.
This group of patients is hardest to acquire, but once they are onboard, they will stay with you because they have selected you after doing thorough research.
What helps them decide who to contact? - These prospects would typically go through the following process to short-list providers they would consider:
How can you maximize your chances of converting prospects searching on Google?
Our experience suggests that you need a healthcare marketing agency to acquire these patients.
These are people with health insurance that you accept. Once they see the list of providers on their insurance list, they will compare you with the other competing doctors on their insurance provider list. Since most of their research will happen on the internet, you need to have a presence. It does not require it to be as extensive as needed to acquire new patients through Google, but it needs to be better than your competitors.
Your marketing challenge for acquiring these patients is much easier compared to acquiring patients through a Google search because all you need to do is stand out among the provider options. You do not need to have a dominant presence on the internet in your local areas.
To win, make sure that:
You should have a referral program that requests your happy patients to recommend you to their friends and relatives. Prospects who find out about you from their friends and relatives will have even a smaller set of healthcare providers to choose from. The reason is that they will be looking at more providers and are likely to ask several people for a recommendation, and several of them could be patients of another provider. Because they could be looking at any of your competitors, your task of converting them to patients is more difficult than converting the ones deciding from their health insurance list.
One thing that they use to eliminate providers from consideration providers’ online review. Consumer research suggests that people trust online reviews more than the recommendations of their friends and relatives when selecting a healthcare provider. Given this fact, here are the must-haves in order to acquire more patients recommended by your patients:
The first thing you need to do is get your and competitors reputation audit. If you are ahead of them, keep on doing what you are doing and never let up. If you lag behind or at par, consult a reputation management company to make sure your online reputation reflects real patient satisfaction, and a few unhappy patients do not sully that.
A good website is always a must-have because that is the first place your prospects will go. Get your site audited for key metrics (loading speed, mobile friendliness, optimization for conversion) vs. your competitors to help you move and stay ahead of your competitors.
There are many healthcare specialties where most of the new patients come through referrals from physicians. If your practice falls in this category, then your (referral) marketing strategy should be optimized to convert most of these referrals to patients and also keep referrals coming.
It may seem like you don’t need to do much marketing, but the reality is very different. You still have competitors in your area of specialization and referring physicians are always evaluating where they should be sending their patients. Patients who are informed and have options to go to other providers (with the ability to pay or with good insurance) will do their due diligence and reject their physician’s recommendation if they found the specialist lacking in attributes important in their selection criteria. Several primary care physician clients of GMR Web Team have shared that they recommend the best specialists to their patients and quite often a patient will come back and ask for a specific specialist that they have found online.
Patients will check your website and online reputation, and reject you if what they see do not meet their expectations. The biggest reason seems to be poor online reviews. Imagine how embarrassing it could be for a referring physician to have their patient come back and suggest another specialist because of the online reputation of specialist they recommended was poor. We know of physicians who stopped sending any new patients to specialists with a poor online reputation.
You also need to keep on adding new referring physicians to your practice to prevent significant revenue decline if one of the referring physicians decided to retire or start sending their patients to your competitor. A thoracic surgeon recently contacted us because his revenue dropped over 50% in the last six months. He was getting bulk of new patients from a hospital. This particular hospital was sold, and the new owner decided to refer their heart bypass surgery patients to another surgeon. I am sure no specialist want to face this situation.
Here is what specialists can do to generate a consistent flow of patients from referring physicians:
A thriving practice for specialists needs a good in-house marketing team or a digital marketing agency to manage online reputation and execute outreach program to referring physicians for generating more recommendations.
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to marketing for healthcare providers. Patients with good insurance or the ability to pay cash are typically well-informed. Most of them will research before they select a doctor, urgent care center, or hospital for their needs. Your strategy would depend on what source you want to use for acquiring new patients. A good website and a stellar online presence are must-have for every provider. Other marketing activities should depend on your decision about your patient acquisition strategy. Unless you are a professional marketer, get a healthcare marketing agency to guide you in the right direction.
This blog post first appeared on GMR Web Team blog, which is our sister company.
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