Medical marketing can be confusing. There’s no one “set and forget” digital marketing strategy—instead it’s a careful combination of addressing online reviews, engaging in social media, maximizing your search engine optimization potential and creating new, relevant blog content to establish you as an authority—as well as engaging and educating current and potential patients.
But there’s more to the story…
The best medical marketing in the world can’t override the actual patient experience, and if you ignore these five main reasons patients don’t return to a medical practice…
1. Poor first impressions
Who makes the first contact with your patients? It’s the person who answers the phone. Potential patients who encounter indifferent phone interactions assume that this is the way they will be treated in the practice. Extensive phone trees are equally frustrating.
If you make a good first impression on the phone, you must follow this up with a receptionist who understands the importance of good customer service. Many negative reviews on medical practice websites center on the attitude of those at the front desk.
What you can do about it: Offer customer service training for those who work the front desk and answer phones. You may not realize it, but this is a vital part of medical marketing. Bonus points if they are able to remember names and faces. As always, a smile is vitally important, as well as having a receptionist who is able to handle more challenging patients.
2. Neglecting to return phone calls
While the lab results may be routine for you, for many patients, they are anxiously awaiting that call. Or perhaps, one of your patients has a concern about a reaction to certain medication and isn’t sure that it warrants a trip to the doctor.
Nurses and physicians are swamped. There are simply too many things to do and not enough time in the day. It’s difficult to return a patient phone call when you’re in the middle of a detailed visit or procedure.
What you can do about it: While it’s perfectly understandable that you do not want your patient flow interrupted by multiple phone calls, you should establish a policy for what is an acceptable amount of time in which to return them—and you should do so as soon as possible. Make sure your patients are aware of this policy.
3. “Sticker shock” surprises
Another common complaint we’ve seen on physician and practice review sites is from patients who were under the impression a procedure or visit would be covered by insurance, only to later receive a large bill. This nasty surprise taints the entire patient experience—even if, up until that time, it has been positive.
Health insurance is confusing, and many patients aren’t fully aware of what services are covered and which ones aren’t. It’s a good idea to get a basic understanding of the scope of coverage up front, even if this means having a designated representative from your office to work with your patient to be sure all charges are clearly understood upfront.
What you can do about it: Designate someone in your office as the point person to help patients decipher their insurance and have a clear idea of what companies will and will not cover. If there is a lapse in coverage, or something isn’t covered, notify the patient before the procedure.
4. Extensive office wait times
Waiting is a fact of life, but it’s never pleasant. Remember that your patients are taking time off of their work schedules and their families to seek treatment. Extended waits are not only frustrating, but it translates into a lack of respect for their time. As a result, the patient is most likely fuming and upset before he or she even enters your exam room.
What you can do about it: Have a policy in place that if a patient has been waiting for longer than 10 minutes he or she will be acknowledged. Most understand if there’s a delay due to an emergency, but they can’t if you don’t let them know about it. Most important, apologize for any delay.
5. Ignoring concerns and complaints
As a health care professional, one of the most important aspects of patient care involves listening to and addressing the concerns of those in your care. When patients feel they are not being taken seriously or their distress is ignored, they will leave the practice—often leaving scathing online reviews as they go.
What you can do about it: Learn to listen. Remember that patients don’t have the vast medical knowledge that you do, and something that is very simple and straightforward to you may be confusing and stressful to your patients. Ignoring negative online reviews can be equally as devastating to your reputation.
For more information, check out our blog on Three Reasons Why Physicians Should Manage Their Online Reviews and How Your Medical Practice Can Get Stellar Reviews.
We can help you salvage your reputation
If your reputation has taken a hit on popular review sites, we can not only help you turn the tide but also provide solid, measurable suggestions you can take to foster internal change that makes a difference. We’ve helped medical practices raise their online reviews from three stars to almost five stars within a matter of months. Contact us to see how we can help you.
Since its inception in 2000, Proclaim Interactive has combined excellence in design and think-out-of- the-box digital marketing to become one of the most award-winning firms in the region.
Proclaim Interactive provides website design, social media management, SEO and general marketing services designed to amplify clients’ messages. For more information, call us at 910.795.4143.