He was never accepted into medical school, but he has become the number one go-to source for millions of patients: meet Dr. Google. When a patient starts to feel out of sorts, he immediately Googles the symptoms and creates a preliminary self-diagnosis.
Why should this matter to your medical practice?
Patients are involved in their own healthcare now more than ever before. Understanding the journey that today’s patient takes in getting to your office will help you understand how various tools of online marketing work together to bring in new patients and eliminate soft schedules. According to Fathom, 86% of patients conduct a health related search online before scheduling an appointment with a provider. And guess where they’re searching.
It isn’t Google alone.
In fact, 41% of all patients say that social media impacts their choice of healthcare providers. They’re using platforms like Facebook and Google+ as search engines. Once a patient has narrowed down his search, he then heads on over to Google maps to see where your office is located; and this image-conscious patient of today’s market expects to be able to see inside the office before he arrives. (Think virtual tours don’t matter? Think again!)
Once a patient decides that he likes what he sees, he’s going to look for reviews about the doctor or the practice to help confirm his choice. He’ll probably check Healthgrades, Vitals, and Facebook. And he’ll automatically see your reviews on Google because Google spoon-feeds this to him as soon as he searches your name (see photo).
Then comes the waiting room. Do you know what a patient is doing while waiting to see you? Yep. Checking social media. And while there, he’s going to post to Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare about the fact that he’s waiting to see his doctor – announcing to his 250 friends that he’s trying out your practice.
What happens after the office visit?
The patient is likely to research the medications you just prescribed. 60% of patients say that they research their medications to understand them better. In fact, this self-guided research weighs heavily on whether or not our patient here even has the prescription filled.
After the office visit your patient is back online and engaged in social media, where he’s already been talking about you. This chatty guy is now your best source for word-of-mouth referrals because in the digital world, this exchange isn’t limited to just one person; instead it’s broadcast into the news feeds of his 250 friends.
4 Questions you should ask yourself
Now that you know a little more about today’s patient, it’s time to assess how you’re going about convincing him that you’re the best provider for him:
- Is your website converting?
It’s not enough to have high volume traffic to your site if that traffic is not resulting in quality leads or appointment requests.
- Are you active on social media?
57% of all American adults are using Facebook; that number is only growing. Are you there offering them educational, evidence-based health and medical content?
- Can your patient view your office before even stepping foot inside?
Not only does this allow a web visitor to fully experience your facility, it also provides you with an enhanced profile in Google and more favorable search engine rankings.
- How’s your online reputation?
Have you checked on your reviews? You can be sure that your potential patients have!
Interactive online marketing is an investment in your practice’s future. When done well, it will produce returns for many years to come.