The medical field is not for the faint of heart. Back when your dad was the doctor, he went to the office, offered great care, and let customer loyalty do the rest. Having a rough day? A grumpy patient? He could rest assured that the rest of his practice was still on safe ground. Not any longer.
Today’s savvy patients are a whole new ballgame. Traditionally, patients would get medical advice from their community of friends, family, and neighbors. But with the massive amount of information—reviews, testimonials, ratings—available with the click of a mouse, a patient’s_ virtual_ community has become just as important. A staggering 92 percent of consumers today read online reviews, and 80 percent trust them as much as personal recommendations. This is just as true in the medical field. Eighty four percent of patients say they use online reviews to evaluate physicians. Medical professionals can simply no longer afford to ignore their online presence.
There is good news. The door swings both ways—the digital world can be just as helpful as it can be a hindrance. By carefully monitoring and nurturing your online presence, you can attract new patients, build relationships with current patients, and increase growth.
So what are the best ways to use your online presence to your advantage? How do you make your medical practice more visible and easy to find? How do you ensure potential patients are EXCITED about visiting your office?
Step #1: Monitor and Promote Online Reviews
Just as we use the web to research a sweet new smartwatch or those awesome shoes your friend wore to Friday’s tennis match (you SWEAR they are the reason you lost!), today’s patient is also hunting down information about YOU online. This means it is absolutely critical to put your best foot forward when a patient is on the hunt for a new medical provider.
Websites, blogs, social media, and other digital channels are all outlets for current (and former) patients to share their experiences with others. This online community has significant influence on the decision a potential patient will make. In fact, more than three-quarters (77 percent) of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor.
Managing your online presence is critical, but it can also be time-consuming. Fortunately, technology can fill that gap. Having the right tools to help you monitor and respond to reviews can make the process simple and seamless. Technology can make it easy to highlight the positive aspects of your practice and see where you can improve.
Getting patients to share their experiences is also key to building a great online reputation. The truth is that left to their own devices most people are much more likely to share negative experiences than they are positive. The challenge for medical practices is to get those happy patients to share reviews as well. Once again, using the right technology is key. Technology can help providers gather feedback post-visit, in a simple way that is easy for your patients. It can also push reviews to the sites that are most useful. If there is a popular online destination where your practice doesn’t have enough reviews, a good online reputation management solution can solve that problem.
Step #2: Make Sure Your Practice Is Easy to Find Online
When a potential patient is browsing the web searching for a new doctor, how easy is it to find out about your practice? Do you provide plenty of information to help patients see why you are the one they should choose? Is that info current, accurate, and positive?
While most of us know the importance of search engines in being found online, many do not realize that reviews are a big part of those rankings. In a study of 30,000 online businesses, online reviews increased page visits by 40 percent in nine months. Generating online reviews can boost your search ranking and put your organization at the top of search results.
Using technology that integrates online reviews with search engines and review sites like Google is a must to maintain a strong online presence and reputation. Google gives higher search rankings based on the number of reviews an organization receives, so it’s important to gather reviews on a consistent basis. One trick to boost the number of positive reviews you receive is to always include links to leave a review in your emails, newsletters, and other patient communication. This makes it easy and user friendly for your patients, vastly increasing the chances they will respond.
Managing your online presence across multiple review sites like Yelp, Google, and Yahoo takes extra time that most medical professionals don’t have. Consider using patient relationship management (PRM) tools that help save time and take the guesswork out of managing your online reviews to stay ahead of the game. Tools that automatically gather patient reviews where needed most can help you stay on top of all your review sites. Set up alerts to notify you when a patient has posted a bad review, and be sure to handle complaints from dissatisfied patients in a timely manner.
Step #3: Get Social
Social media is an amazing tool for medical professionals. Unfortunately, it is also often ignored. Less than 19 percent of practices use social media sites to market. This is a huge missed opportunity. Social media can create and deepen those relationships that are so very important in the medical field. Think about it. You are now virtually hanging out with your potential clients wherever they may be!
Successfully engaging with clients via social media channels can significantly influence a patient’s opinion. It also encourages patients to better their own health, leading to happier patients overall. More than 40 percent of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health. Who better to receive that information from than you?
These platforms allow patients to learn about your medical practice and engage with people who know you. Sharing updates, events, educational information, and promotions shows your active engagement and allows you to join the conversation. Written and video testimonials also let people hear directly from satisfied patients.
The right technology partner can bring these elements together and help make it easy to manage them. The best tools work for you even while you sleep. They constantly monitor your reputation across the web helping help you maximize your reputation anywhere and everywhere.
New technology solutions are key to competing in an online world. Innovative, high-impact tools that maximize your online presence and reputation will help you stand out. They will also help you build and maintain a good name. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming. The right technology solution can be a “one-stop shop” to help manage your online presence and reputation across the entire digital landscape.
Achieve patient reach and online relationship management without taking time from your clinical tasks. With the right technology integration with an EHR software like DrChrono, practices can have an all-in-one EMR, practice management, and medical billing with the inclusion of patient relationship management.
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