Here at ReferralMD, we are dedicated to helping health care providers throughout the nation to better manage their practices and businesses.
This ultimate guide is meant to help small care health providers and community group practices drive patient volume to their businesses by utilizing the online medium.
Consumers are becoming more accustomed to having delightful experiences online. An outdated website and/or a lack of online presence might misrepresent the great services that you are actually providing. Without effective digital marketing, there is a high possibility that you could get lost in the masses.
We know that as healthcare providers, you are extremely busy and don’t necessarily have the time to think about creating a website or managing a social media profile. Instead, we offer you some simple and sustainable methods that you can use to quickly establish yourself as a strong health provider online. This is sure to drive patient volume to your practice or to your system.
SET YOUR GOALS AND KEY SUCCESS MEASURES
Before we start talking about your online presence and how to improve your digital footprint, there are a few foundational items that need to be considered. Marketing is a very broad term that encompasses many different types of activities. You can easily invest an inordinate amount of resources and never get results if you use a spray and pray mentality. This chapter will walk you through how to identify what your goals are so that you know what to expect after you spend your time and money on a campaign.
UNDERSTAND WHERE YOU ARE
Most healthcare facilities tend to rush into marketing campaigns and end up assigning their staff to manage the process. Unfortunately, these staff members are usually not skilled in marketing people. They resort to spending money on hiring fraudulent SEO companies that charge exorbitant fees for simply buying advertising on the Google AdWords Platform.
Paying for a service that returns results is more than fair, but paying for services that do not bring any results, in the long run, is wasteful.
Let’s take a step back. It’s not about the staff being too unskilled to execute a marketing plan, it’s about the lack of goals and objectives.
There are three factors that keep businesses from growing:
- Lack of an Overall Strategy
- Lack of a Strong Value Proposition
- Too Many Competing Priorities
In other words, even if you have content to market online, without a clear plan and actionable goals set in place, you won’t be able to contextualize and position that content to be successful.
Understanding Where You Are
Perhaps you are looking to build your patient population from scratch. Perhaps you already have a full schedule and cannot meet demand, so you have thoughts about expanding. Maybe a new practitioner opened down the street and you need to differentiate yourself in order to compete. Comprehending where you are – the good parts and the bad parts – is critical to outlining where you want to go.
To help you define your goals and understand where you are in terms of marketing and outreach, we recommend taking Agency Other’s Self-Assessment Test. There are 5 different components to this marketing assessment: Planning, Reach, Action, Conversion, and Engagement. If you currently do no marketing or outreach, move on to Step 2.
ASK YOURSELF, WHAT DO I WANT TO ACHIEVE?
Understanding where you are and what your goals are is only one part of the equation. The other part is translating your goals into actionable steps.
Let’s Talk SMART Goals:
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based
- Be Specific: Force yourself to think about real numbers and attainable deadlines. How many more people do you want to walk through your door? How soon do you want that to happen?
- Measure. Measure. and Re-measure: You have set a number, now make sure you can see how your efforts progress or don’t progress. Measurement tells you that you’re on the right track and progressing towards reaching your goals. It also informs you when you’re not on the right track and things aren’t working optimally.
- Make Your Goal Attainable: Challenge yourself to achieve great things and moving your business forward, but don’t make your goal so grand that you cannot reach it.
- Be Real and Relevant: If you took the time to take the self-assessment above, you’ll know where you stand when it comes to your competitors. You’ll also understand how you are doing in terms of current outreach and marketing, and whether you’re reaching your ideal clients. Again, you need to understand where you’re at to get where you want to go.
- Time It: Pressurize your goals. Give yourself a clear timeline to go with your marching orders.
BUILDING YOUR SMART GOALS
In marketing terms, establishing SMART Goals leads to building your brand, increasing brand engagement, generating high lead volume, establishing thought leadership, and ultimately, contributing to revenue.
Here are some guidelines to follow when crafting your own SMART goals:
- Goal Summary: Sketch out a description of your goal (and don’t forget, be SMART).
- Goal Category: What does your goal mean in terms of marketing (see above). Does it fit within increasing brand engagement? Generating high lead volume? Establishing thought leadership? Contributing to revenue?
- Goal Measurements: Setting a number to your goal is not easy. There are some great tools to help you calculate what is realistic for your practice. This is the hardest but most important element of your goal setting since it sets the stage for what you are measuring. Being new to marketing makes this even more challenging.
- Goal Timeframe: Be aggressive within reason. Make sure to give yourself a due date and commit yourself to hit clearly defined benchmarks along the way. How do you do this? Think about how many hours a week you or someone on your staff has to work on this. Every week there should be a smaller goal to achieve.
- Goal Pitfalls: What are the obstacles that you need to be aware of? What can derail your efforts from achieving your goal? Setting these as expectations as opposed to potential excuses will help keep you on track.
Let’s take a look at a fake primary care practice and see how they could go about tracking their own SMART goals. The following image is a basic layout created in Microsoft Excel and is an easy way to track and keep the progress of your goals.
Why Do You Need To Do This Now?
Healthcare has lagged when it comes to digital marketing, primarily because it hasn’t been a consumer-facing industry until now. Developing and maintaining a robust and well-managed digital footprint has been a mainstay for companies and brands in various other industries. Healthcare as a whole is only catching up now.
In a 2014 survey, Pew Research found that 87% of US adults use the internet, and 58% own a smartphone. More specifically, 72% of internet users looked for health information online.
This means that in order to grow your medical practice in today’s market, you need to go where the people are, and that is online.
Establishing an online presence is especially important for primary care providers (PCPs). PCPs are the first source for most people when they have health problems and accordingly, they are the doctors that are searched for the most online.
They are also the doctors that patients tend to maintain contact and a lasting relationship with. This is not to say that specialists shouldn’t establish an online presence of their own. In fact, consumers seeking elective procedures like cosmetic surgeries are more than likely to use the Internet to find a suitable provider.
So, whether you are a PCP or a specialist, whether you operate your own private clinic or are part of a larger community group practice, it is imperative for you to get online.
BUILD AND MAINTAIN A GREAT WEBSITE
The aim of any website is to drive traffic and convert website visitors into customers. Websites for health providers have the same goal. You want prospective patients to choose you as their health provider for a specific service, consult, procedure, etc. For them to do that, they need to trust you. If your website was built or looks like it was built 10 years ago, then your patients and referring providers will think that your treatment knowledge is antiquated as well.
KNOW THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY
As the old adage goes, first impressions are everything. A prospective patient’s first impression of you as a health provider is usually communicated through your website.
You with a great website You without a great website
This dentist’s office is a private practice. The website is simple, modern, and informative. There are social channels too. Testimonials and services are all upfront, clearly defined. The layout is not cluttered and is easy to navigate.
The site also incorporates Yelp reviews of patients, offers complimentary consulting services, and displays scheduling information clearly.
Why Is This Good?
Transparency is the first step to making health care more accessible to patients and providers, ultimately leading to improved quality and lower costs. By making your website clear and concise, and offering pricing options, procedures, and patient testimonials, you are enabling patients by giving them control of their own care.
Take a deeper dive into their digital footprint, however, and you can see that there are blog posts from over a year ago that are basically copied and pasted from other sites. There is too much unoriginal content that is very short in length.
In addition, social media engagement is very limited. Ultimately, they are not leveraging all the possibilities that a sound marketing plan might provide.
Why Is This Bad?
First of all, copy/pasting or passing off articles as your own without giving the proper credit is illegal. You could be sued for infringement by those who you stole from or by others policing internet piracy.
In addition, by sharing old blog posts from people not related to your business, you are providing patients with irrelevant information and not giving them a look into your practice or the people involved with your practice.
Remember, prospective patients, are looking for unique value from you as a provider. Showing them health articles or news relevant to the care that they would receive at your place of business is a way to ensure that you are informed and that you take your craft, and more importantly their health, seriously.
Search engines like Google do not rank low quality, short length articles. It is recommended that articles be at least 2000 words to get more social shares and higher rankings online.
Do you want to rank higher on major search engines like Google or Bing? You should write detailed and educational 2000+ word articles. Over time your website will outrank the competition.
With our help, and a little bit of magic from Clint Eastwood
We can help you turn something this ugly
Into something this good.
So, how do you make your website good, or even better, great?
Simple. Simple. Simple.
A recent study shows that consumers value ease-of-use. They are inclined to engage with simple information even more than trustworthy information.
Image Courtesy of HIT Consultant
Take a look at Oscar Health Insurance, a new health insurance plan that is available in select cities throughout the nation. Everything is laid out on their home page in intuitive ways. The navigation is simple and the site conveys friendliness and accessibility, while also showcasing quality and trustworthiness.
All Images Courtesy of Oscar Insurance Corporation
One Medical is a small but growing medical group headquartered in Chicago that is changing how care is provided by reforming the entire clinical visit. They know what’s important to their customers and make sure to put those messages front and center.
Image Courtesy of One Medical Group
“IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME”
In the 1989 film, Field of Dreams, the main character Ray, played by Kevin Costner, is an Iowa corn farmer and a huge baseball fan. One day, he hears a voice tell him: “If you build it, he will come.” Ray eventually goes on to build a baseball diamond on his field that attracts the ghosts of great baseball legends past to come and play on it.
This is a great analogy to the building of a website bringing new patients to your practice. However, in this case, you cannot just “build” a website and hope to drive new business. With a healthcare website, you need to design and maintain it properly in order to attract patients.
But you’re not a coder or a designer and don’t know the first thing about making a website attractive to the modern healthcare consumer.
Don’t worry! A good website doesn’t need to be a huge investment. Many health care providers are not as tech-savvy as they would like to believe and don’t have any experience building websites.
The best thing to do would be to hire a professional to build and maintain your website. You can get a well-designed, clean website for under $5,000, and likely closer to $3,500. Included in this cost would be domain hosting and the web developer’s services. A good developer will work with you to make sure that your site looks beautiful, and more importantly, that it presents the information your clients need in an organized manner.
Another option would be to use a third party website building service such as Squarespace or WordPress. Both of these services are expansive and intuitive, however, we would recommend testing the navigation with friends, family, staff, and even patients before officially launching the new site.
If you need additional help, then there are agencies that can support all of your website needs from website refresh to content marketing.
Agency Other focuses only on healthcare and technology businesses and has a solid grasp of what works and what doesn’t work in the industry.
Things You Will Need:
Regardless of the pathway you choose, you will need to gather either for yourself or for the web designer the following things:
1. A Logo For Your Business
Your logo should be presented in high resolution, along with all of the other images and graphics on
the site. Unfortunately, there tend to be many bad logos on the web, and this is especially true for medical practices and healthcare companies.
Take the following logo, for example.
Although the design is nice enough (it may be a bit generic), the logo doesn’t tell us anything about the medical practice. Fresenius Medical Care is actually a health care company that focuses on improving care and quality of life for those people with chronic kidney disease. Without visiting their website, however, you would have no idea that they treat patients with end stage renal failure.
Something along the lines of this logo would much better serve Fresenius Medical Care as it would show the general public that they are involved with kidney care and treatment.
Your logo is extremely important because it is usually one of the first things that prospective patients will see on the web. Whenever your business is advertised on other sites or on search engines, your logo will be prominently displayed for all to see. This is why it is very important to create an attractive, engaging, and informative logo.
Here are some guidelines to follow when drafting your own logo:
1. Don’t Use Generic Designs
Many medical practices use stock art and other generic images when creating their logos. This is because it requires minimal effort and cost on the part of the provider. Unfortunately, it also portrays them as unoriginal and cheap when it comes to their business.
The most common of these stock images for medical practices is the “Caduceus” symbol, which is shown below.
It’s a simple way to advertise that your business is indeed a medical practice. However, it is way too commonly used within the industry. Even marketing companies that offer to create your medical logo for you have come up with different variations of the symbol.
All Images Courtesy of Biz-Logo.com
And while they might look nice, using the same generic symbol for your medical practice is not memorable and will not allow you to differentiate from your competitors.
Other Examples of Generic Logos:
2. Use Simple Fonts and Symbols
Using overly complex medical symbols or fonts in your logo can take away from its effectiveness. For one thing, the logo will be hard to scale if there are intricate details that need to be repeatedly duplicated. This comes into play when having to distribute business cards or educational pamphlets. It is also a concern online, where different outlets may refuse to reproduce your logo due to its complexity.
While you may think that a unique font and design will make you stand out, this is not always the case. In most instances, you’ll find that they tend to detract from the actual services that your business provides.
This may seem like an okay logo. It has a modern design and is very informative. However, the different fonts and sizes of text make this logo a mess. It would be much better with a uniform font style and size.
One Medical Group has done a great job with their logo, keeping it simple and clean. There aren’t any crazy colors and the font is basic and straightforward.
Image Courtesy of One Medical Group
3. Cater to Your Audience
As a healthcare business, it is important that you keep your target audience in mind. Your logo is a reflection of your practice and therefore you want it to exude professionalism and integrity.
The above logo is for an interventional radiology practice in Melbourne, Australia. From their website, they seem like a very professional and successful organization. Their logo, however, isn’t doing them any favors. The wildly bright colors and the funky font are more reflective of a children’s toy company than that of medical practice.
Some Examples of Good Logos
If you are not a designer, it is well worth investing in a logo for your business, it will set an impression for your patients and your referring doctors.
Check out 99designs.com for an inexpensive option. For a few hundred dollars you can have 20 to 30 designers compete to win your business.
2. An About Section that Describes Who You and Your Team Are
In the About section, you should describe your credentials, your staff’s credentials, and the experience you’ve all had in being successful in providing the services that you do. This includes education, experience, training, certifications, publications, etc.
It doesn’t hurt to have little biographies detailing families, pets, and other interests for each member of the staff. This makes it more likely for patients to relate to you and your practice, and more likely for them to choose your business as their place of care.
Make sure to upload clear pictures of yourself and your staff members, so that prospective patients can put a face to a name.
Image Courtesy of One Medical Group
Another innovative step would be to link each of your staff’s social media accounts and/or websites to their names (if they are willing). This can provide patients with a level of comfort knowing that their caregivers are indeed human beings and not robots.
3. What Services You Provide (Explain Them Simply)
Services can come in the form of lists or small descriptions, or you can have individual web pages for each service that allows for a more in-depth exploration of that particular offering.
Image Courtesy of One Medical Group
It is important to list the type of procedures that you provide, as well as the doctors who perform those procedures. Additionally, patients like to know how many of those procedures that the doctor has performed, with and without complications.
Transparency has become crucial in today’s healthcare industry. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has already made most Medicare and Medicaid health data available to the public, so it is not a stretch for you to provide that data to your target audience. Moreover, it can be a major selling point for prospective patients to know that they are willing to be transparent with their health outcomes, especially if they are good.
4. What Conditions or Treatments You Focus On
It is important to be specific when mentioning what conditions or treatments your place of care focus on. You don’t want patients coming into your clinic expecting a procedure that you don’t offer. Therefore, you should make sure to emphasize the following throughout your online platforms:
Who/what do you treat and why are you the best for treating those conditions?
What differentiates you from your local competitors?
Image Courtesy of One Medical Group
5. Patient Testimonials
Patient testimonials and reviews are of major importance in the healthcare industry. It is a way to ensure that healthcare organizations are being held accountable for the care that they provide.
We show you how to best optimize your online patient reviews in Chapter 4.
There are options to stream Yelp reviews (or other review sources) on most website services or templates. You can also have testimonials displayed simply with quotes and the patient’s first name.
Image Courtesy of One Medical Group
6. Contact Page
Your Contact page should clearly list your location or locations (if you have multiple), phone/fax numbers, and email addresses. There should be a map of where you are locally (many websites let you integrate with Google Maps, which is a great option) as well as a phone number written prominently for appointments. There should also be a phone number and email address for general inquiries as well.
Image Courtesy of One Medical Group
7. Social Media Links
Yes, social media is no longer a “nice to have.” It’s now become a necessity for all businesses to be successful. If you’re just starting with social media, choose two to three channels that you’d like to develop (Facebook and Twitter; Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; etc). There are easy ways to link to these social media sites on your website. Many site building services offer you a convenient link station or you can have your developer place links throughout your website’s layout. It’s completely up to you.
We will discuss how to build your social media profiles in the next chapter, but for now, be advised that this is something that you absolutely need in order to drive patient volume to your practice.
A Scheduling Component
Most health care providers offer their phone numbers so that prospective patients can call and schedule an appointment with the receptionist. While you should still offer patients that option, it is an outdated philosophy.
It is far more convenient to install a widget on your website that gives people the power to schedule an appointment immediately. The idea is to convert those visiting your site into patients. Don’t make it difficult for them to resist. Also, this feature can easily be incorporated into your scheduling software and EMR.
—-YOU MAY BE BREAKING THE LAW—-
Unfortunately most websites break the law by offering an insecure website (Not SSL Certified website – HTTPS). Asking patients to send private information directly over the internet without encryption is a federal offense.
If you want to stay compliant you can purchase features such as referralMD’s Book an Appointment widget. This allows you to collect patient appointment requests and doctor referrals directly from your website in a secure fashion. We prioritize all your appointments and referrals into a Work Queue so you always know the status of every patient. We even accept faxes with our one-of-a-kind SmartFax feature which automatically sends out progress updates every week to all your referring providers, keeping you top of mind every week, improves customer service, and generates more referrals. We can save you 1.5 hours a day per staff member using referralMD, That is 33 hours a month per staff.
A Patient Portal
(Where Patients Can Log In To See Their Visit or Payment History)
A patient portal enables patients to take control of their own health. This online software can allow them to schedule appointments, pay bills, contact providers directly, and more.
We discuss patient portals in further detail in Chapter 5.
Why is this beneficial to your practice?
You can cut your administrative costs by inviting patients to manage their own care at your facilities. You will also be providing a relatively unique service to your patients, helping you differentiate from your competitors.
Image Courtesy of Glendale MRI
In line with the patient portal, providing a way for your patients to pay online (if they so choose) is a valuable service. Many of the patient portals available for health systems offer HIPAA compliant online payment centers.
Again, you can cut your administrative costs and differ from the competition.
A blog can be an excellent source of additional confirmation that you’re the right clinician for a potential patient. Not only will you have more content to push out into the world through your social media channels, but you will also be able to potentially inform your patients about things relevant to their visit or their health. Seasonal illnesses, vaccination information, new medical research – all of the things repeated in clinical visits can be promoted on the blog. In doing so, the actual clinical visit could be made more valuable.
We discuss blogs in further detail in the next chapter.
Image Courtesy of One Medical Group
EXPAND YOUR ONLINE VISIBILITY WITH SOCIAL MEDIA AND DIGITAL MARKETING
Social media and digital advertising have become integral parts of marketing campaigns for companies in all industries. It is a great way to get your name and your practices’ name out to the masses. Predictably, marketing companies have emerged promising to get your business to the top page of Google’s search results. Unfortunately, most of these companies charge extravagant fees for tips that are simple and easy. Our strategies detailed below will give you results. We have ranked our own website #1 and #2 globally for the term “Health Care Technology,” out of almost a billion results.
GET O KNOW SOCIAL MEDIA
Let’s look at some statistics.
- More than 40% of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health (Mediabistro). This means that accurate and useful information needs to be shared. This is where you come in.
- 90% of respondents from 18 to 24 years of age said they would trust medical information shared by others on their social media networks (Search Engine Watch). Millennials are here to stay and they communicate primarily online. This means that this is where you need to be to effectively communicate with them.
- 41% of people said social media would affect their choice of a specific doctor, hospital, or medical facility (Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group). This includes positive reviews as much as it does negative ones.
- 60% of physicians most popular activities on social media are following what colleagues are sharing and discussing (Health Care Communication).
Social media will help you reach your patients, expand your practice, and learn critical insights from your peers.
For a more extensive list look here.
So how do you use social media without spending a ton of time online?
Many people think that you need to be on all the social media channels you can possibly find. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Instead, start small. Depending on your marketing objectives and your patient population, choose no more than three media channels that are right for you. Below we review three of the most useful channels for healthcare practitioners: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Facebook is the most established and most useful form of social media for you as a care provider. There are nearly 1 billion users on Facebook, which makes it the premier method to spread exposure of your practice by word of mouth. Facebook is also nice because you can tailor marketing efforts towards your specific community or location.
How To Grow Your Facebook Page:
The first step is to create your Facebook profile/page. Similar to your website, you want to customize it so that it is as detailed as possible with your mission statement, contact information, physical address, education/qualifications, and most importantly, pictures of facilities and staff.
Image Courtesy of One Medical Group
Find like organizations or services; reach out to your personal community and invite them to like your page. Ask your friends and family to share it with their communities. Facebook also enables a great ad service. With a small budget and a well-crafted ad, you can broaden your reach significantly.
Finding Your Audience
Facebook advertising allows for quick access to highly targeted audiences. More than any other network, Facebook knows about its users (gender, age, and preferences). They are able to use this information to help focus your ads better.
It’s important that you remain mindful of how large your target audience is. If it’s too broad, you’ll end up targeting the wrong people with your ad. If you’re too specific, few people will see your ad and the campaign will be ineffective. Your goal should be landing somewhere in the middle – between 1,000 to 180,000 people is ideal.
Special Conditions: Custom Audiences
You can upload a contact list and either include or exclude those people from your ad efforts. For example, if you have a list of newsletter subscribers, you can create a targeted marketing campaign directly towards them.
Facebook has advanced filtering capabilities that allow you to narrow your audience by location, age, gender, and demographics (education, work, marital status, ethnicity, finances, interests, etc.).
Writing Your Facebook Ad:
All the work you did on your website pays off here. You’ve identified who your target patient audience is and you know the services that are most important to them. That’s the ad that you need to come up with in order to convert the right people.
Some key elements to a successful Facebook Ad include:
- Relevance – Your ad needs to be relevant to the target audience you’ve identified.
- Value Proposition – Your value proposition tells your audience how you are different from your competitors. It entices them to click on your ad and see your website.
- Call-To-Action – You can add a sense of urgency with a clear actionable next step.
- Visual – You need to include clear and beautiful visuals to draw the audience in.
Different Formats of Facebook Ads
Ads come in different formats. There’s the right-hand column ad and the newsfeed ad. The former tends to be less expensive and less engaging, but with the right message and right visuals they can be powerful ads. The latter appears directly in the user’s newsfeed and looks just like another post. There’s a higher engagement, but they are also more expensive.
Types of Facebook Ads
Facebook Video Ads
This is becoming a very popular type of ad for many companies looking to bolster their brand.
How can you create a video ad for Facebook?
Understand the requirements first and then create videos that clearly showcase your services.
This is one of the most popular type of ads on Facebook. Make sure that your photo is 1200×628 pixels or it will be cropped.
These ads let marketers showcase many different products under one brand. A user can click through the images to see not just one product but many. The Facebook Power Editor is the best place to make these sort of ads.
For businesses with a physical location like a clinical practice, this is one of the better ads. They work best for driving foot traffic directly to your door. You are able to target your audience location up to within a mile of your office.
Businesses can advertise a discounted service or product that can be redeemed on Facebook. You can create these ads in Ads Manager or Power Editor and they can appear in the user’s newsfeed or in the right-hand column. The nice thing about these ads is that they remove additional steps and hassle for the consumer. Users can claim the offer right on Facebook without having to go to your website.
This is the typical Facebook post that would originally appear on a business’ homepage. However, it is promoted or boosted by you providing money. This is different than other ads because it’s not created in Ads Manager, and there is no word count. The downside is of course the price, and that you are more limited with how you target.
The versatility and relatively inexpensive nature of Facebook Ads make them a viable option for you to promote your services to the right people.
Twitter is a fantastic way to broaden and diversify your reach. It can help connect you with your peers and reach your patients – and potential patients – effectively. Twitter is about conversations, and those conversations are defined or identified by hashtags. Information about your clinic can be shared alongside information about your industry.
Click here for a great resource on how to set up a Twitter profile for your business.
Take a look at our friends at Glendale MRI below:
Image Courtesy of Glendale MRI
They have done a great job with their Twitter page. They push out great content daily including pictures, quotes, links to blog articles, and health tips.
*Don’t forget to check out our piece on how to use Twitter for healthcare effectively here, and our article on how to use healthcare hashtags properly here.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest online professional network. Consequently, it is an ideal channel to connect your practice with other health care institutions, providers, and practitioners. It is a great tool for all of your personal networking needs. Suggesting that each member of your staff have a profile on LinkedIn can only help you differentiate from other health providers.
It’s also a great way to recruit the best talent and entice the interest of prospective patients. Creating a detailed and informed profile is valuable because LinkedIn tends to be one of the first results shown on search engines like Google and Bing. Therefore, when patients do search online for a health care provider, they are more likely to run into you.
LinkedIn also optimizes your profile by allowing for other trusted industry professionals to endorse you with reviews and recommendations.
Image Courtesy of One Medical Group
Click here to learn how to best optimize your LinkedIn Company Profile.
Managing It All
Choosing which channel(s) you want to develop and then setting the accounts up is one thing. Managing them is another.
We highly recommend a content management software like Hootsuite or Buffer.
Hootsuite is a social media management tool while Buffer is a content scheduling tool. Depending on your goals there are benefits to each.
Take a look at the layouts of each below:
Take a look at the Beginner’s Guide to Buffer here A Side By Side Comparison:
Publishing and Scheduling
Hootsuite and Buffer allow you to post content immediately or schedule it for later. Both have an automated function that spreads your posts out over a period of time. Specific times and dates can also be set for certain content (announcing an event, special deal, or even an anticipated piece of content like a blog). With Hootsuite you can also respond directly to Twitter accounts that interact with you.
What Networks Do They Support?
Buffer lets you schedule content for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.
With Hootsuite, you can connect to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and WordPress. It can also integrate with Instagram, YouTube, Vimeo, Reddit, and several others.
Take a look at the Beginner’s Guide to Hootsuite here.
CONTENT IS KING
Consider social media as micro-content. Not only are you able to showcase your services, but you are also able to align your values with those of larger communities. What does this do for you? It helps broaden your reach and potentially improves your inbound leads.
Social media engagement is all about developing real relationships with your followers and adding value to the conversations that you would like to be a part of.
There are a few golden rules for sharing content on your social networks.
- Post quality content. Make sure what you are posting is relevant, timely, and interesting. Don’t just post information about your services; instead share information that your audience wants to interact with. The rule is 3:1. Post three pieces of content that could be engagement opportunities for your audience, and one self-promotional piece.
- Share multiple times daily. For Twitter that means about 4-6 posts at least. For Facebook and LinkedIn you can get away with about 2 posts per day. Optimal times:
- Image sharing increases the likelihood of your content being Retweeted or Favorited.
- Listen to your community. Respond to comments or mentions as quickly as you can.
- Know the art of the hashtag. Don’t use any more than 2 hashtags on Twitter, and using hashtags on Facebook actually seems to decrease engagement (so don’t use them).
- For Twitter, don’t automatically reply with direct messages to those who follow you. It’s spammy. It’s far more effective to respond directly to that new friend and say, “Thanks!”
- For Facebook, don’t request Likes, Comments, or Shares. Let your community do that on their own.
- For LinkedIn, personalize your connection requests. Tell them why you’re connecting.
- For LinkedIn, make sure to pay attention to the tone of your posts (it’s a professional network).
As mentioned above, blogs are an additional tool to circulate information that you feel could be relevant to your practice.
The prospect of writing regularly might seem overwhelming to some, but to others it can be a way to share insights and thoughts with your clients in a new way. Many also find the process cathartic.
Some quick tips to effectively writing great content from our friends at Quicksprout.
- Stay in research mode at all times. When you come across something that strikes you as interesting or important (perhaps a new study, an alert, an upcoming community event) jot it down.
- If you get an idea, jot it down and start brainstorming ways you can develop it. Try to capture the major points, maybe the URLs for sites that could provide additional info.
- Use Evernote to file research. Evernote allows you to save web pages directly into folders and tags. You can create a folder for each writing project or a folder for each category you create content for. There is also a handy web clipper for Evernote. If you come across an interesting piece of content, you can just click on the Evernote Web Clipper and that site is automatically saved in the appropriate folder.
- Write in your own voice. Be unique in the way that you present the information.
- Talk about one thing only. Write your draft and then edit. Your first job will be to make sure you’re always staying on point.
- Spend a lot of time on your title. It’s critical when it comes to search engine optimization and connecting to your readers.
- Make your first sentence your best.
- Craft an irresistible lead.
- Close your piece with a bang.
- Keep it plain: Paragraphs of 6 lines max; sentences of 25 words max; words with 1-2 syllables
YouTube is a great platform for video marketing. By creating a channel and uploading videos of your staff, procedures, and hospital/facilities, you give patients a glimpse of what receiving care at your establishment would be like. This is a very powerful tool for attracting patients and it is something that many healthcare providers do not do.
Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s, uses a combination of short YouTube videos, blogs, and social media to inform her patients and others about important healthcare issues. By educating through multiple media channels she’s increasing the diversity and the number of people that she reaches.
Here is a guest section from our friend Pamela Fletcher, the administrative director at Glendale MRI. She details how to use curated content to promote your company’s brand on social media .
How To Promote Your Brand On Social Media With Curated Content
Have you ever attempted to build a brand on Facebook or Twitter? Right away you realize that you need a content marketing strategy along with content – a lot of it –to have something to post and attract your tribe (customers.)
Perhaps you’ll start a blog as part of that strategy, which is an excellent idea. A blog is a great foundation to create a voice for your brand and get noticed. When you do this, however, you’ll quickly discover that you are not going to be able to write or create enough unique content yourself to satisfy the needs of even one social media channel, let alone several.
Social media is always hungry and your channel is going to need a lot of content flowing through it to build your audience and credibility. So here’s where “content curation” is going to be your best friend.
But what exactly is content curation and how can it be used for best results?
Content Curation Definition
Content curation is really a fancy phrase that means internet research and cataloging. You search the internet to find relevant, educational and entertaining information that answers questions your target audience has, or in general speaks to a subject that relates to your product or industry and organize and present it in a pleasing way.
Think about a museum curator. You’re doing basically the same thing – pulling together items of similar interest and topic and delivering them in an easy to view and pleasant fashion.
A really great example of excellent content curation is Guy Kawasaki’s blog “Holy Kaw.” Guy has another blog where he writes all the articles, but his content curated site is very popular. With 1.47 million followers on Twitter, it’s clear this is someone who is very successful with social media marketing!
Sharing curated content attracts your potential customers through education, entertainment and getting to know you/your business. It also positions you as the expert. When they need someone knowledgeable in your field, they will remember you, your content and personality and want to connect.
Social media runs on information as currency – you position yourself as the expert and help people. They see this and when they need to hire someone in your specialty they think of you.
What’s the Difference Between Content Marketing and Content Curation?
Content marketing is your overall strategy for building an online brand using content both self-generated and curated.
Content curation is all about finding content already out there and reposting it in an attractive fashion.
Shouldn’t I Be Promoting MY Stuff, Not Other People’s?
Engaging with and sharing other content builds your network. Social media is all about creating relationships; some of those might be with other professionals.
The benefits of connecting with others in your field might be an inspiration and/or support. Many JV partnerships are formed from online relationships so don’t discount the plus side of being generous in sharing and promoting them.
The usefulness of Content Curation (VALUE)
As we’ve already learned, social media relationships are built on helping others – with information, tips, education, etc. This invites people who don’t know you to become customers who become loyal fans who share with others how amazing you are. So don’t be shy in helping them discover answers to their challenges, it will pay you back many times over.
Types of Content
Inspirational Quote Memes
Don’t underestimate the power of sprinkling in some viral entertainment, as long as it’s in good taste and appropriate for your audience: i.e. inspirational for business or life coaches or even engaging animal videos. Tasteful humor directed to your niche, i.e. dental/medical humor or tech humor for online businesses goes a long way to show your personality and draw people in.
What Does the Actual Process Look Like?
Content curation is both a science – meaning that you put in a search term, look through the results and post something relevant to the topic – and an art. The art is intuitively knowing what your audience will be interested in. After running a page for awhile you’ll get a feel and connection with your audience and the message you want to convey, what is relevant, what is going to be popular and useful and what might go viral.
You’re building an audience of people who are interested in your niche. You want to post things that are useful to the demographic who will be most likely to use/buy your product. Do some research into your demographics: what are they interested in in their leisure time? What are their concerns?
Post, track results, and adjust accordingly! Your intuition of what works for a particular audience will get sharper.
How Often Should I Use Content Other Than My Own?
In the Hootsuite blog on the Social Media Rule of Thirds, Sam Milbrath says that:
- ⅓ of your social content promotes your business, converts readers, and generates profit.
- ⅓ of your social content should surface and share ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry or like-minded businesses.
- ⅓ of your social content should be based on personal interactions and build your personal brand.
So if you use this formula, you should post equal parts your blog or posts promoting your own business, curated material from others and finally personal interactions, responding to comments and building relationships.
Organizing and Publishing
There are many options for organizing and publishing your content. When I first started doing this years ago I used Evernote, but quickly got overwhelmed with the sheer amount of content. Some people use spreadsheets, which works fine for links and such but not so good for images. Some of my favorites are: Buffer, Post Planner, Sprout Social and Meet Edgar and Hootsuite.
Find what is comfortable for you and jump in! There are many tools and blogs devoted to this subject, but in the end, experience is often the best teacher.
The Ultimate Guide to Becoming An Amazing Twitter Curator
11 Content Curation Tools Every Marketer Needs
Awesome video by Robert Scoble via Mari Smith
The Definitive Guide to Content Curation
GET FOUND ONLINE
All of your great content can only go so far in attracting new business if you don’t have it optimized for searching online. We already have established that the majority of people looking for health information go online to find it. It’s worth putting some marketing funds aside for online advertisements.
Pay Per Click Advertising
This let’s you pay for an ad on search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Bing. It allows you to rank higher on the search list than other options.
By connecting keywords.
If you are a family dental practice in Los Angeles, for example, you’d want to show up as one of the first results in a search with the keyword Family Dentists LA.
Identifying which keywords you want your ad to be associated with can be arduous, but here are some simple pointers that can help:
Consider the Keyword’s Value to Your Website.
In other words, would a potential patient be satisfied with what they found on your website with the keyword that they used (is it relevant)? What else is showing up when you use a certain keyword?
Purchase a Sample Campaign Through Google AdWords or Bing Adcenter
You can test how well your website would convert using certain keywords. To run a campaign, consider what you think people would search under to find your facility online. Make a list of two to four keyword phrases to test. Using Google’s AdWord Keyword Tool, plug each of the keywords in one at a time. Choose “exact” when given the option for match type. The search will show what the traffic is for each of the keywords entered and you will be able to see an estimate of the traffic you could potentially drive to your site over time.
Don’t Ignore the “Long Tail” of Keywords
Keywords are essential and knowing the value of your keywords will help you to optimize your website to get more online attention. However, we also know that 70% of searches have nothing to do with the most popular keywords and are based on unique search terms. Furthermore, it’s been noted that those unique searches often convert at higher volumes. This double stamps the importance of having a stellar online presence.
Get additional insight and
USE EMAIL MARKETING
You may have heard rumors that email marketing is a thing of the past. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Using email as a marketing tool is quite alive and well. It is still a very efficient way to reach and engage your community. So how do you write an effective email that gets people to open it, read it, and then do something with it?
- Write as if you were writing to one person. This immediately makes the tone and nature of the email a bit more personal.
- Make sure the email is useful. People get emails all the time, and most of them are absolutely a waste of time. Don’t fall into that bucket. Gain a trusted position so that your email will contain relevance and value to your recipients.
- Be transparent about the messages that you’ll include in your emails. Let people know what to expect. Are they going to get occasional promotions? Perhaps tips and news related to your specialty of care?
- Give people an out. Always, always, always let your community unsubscribe from your email list.
- Be a rebel. Try different formats and add interesting touches. Your community should experience delight when they open your emails.
- Add personality, be human. Imagine you’re talking to your patient in person.
- Insert multiple links to the same page.
- Have a simple and clear call to action. Tell your audience exactly what you want them to do. This can be to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter; it can be to schedule an appointment (for 15% off!).
- Provide a deadline to lessen procrastination. If your emails are informative only, then this doesn’t apply. However, any mention of time (seasons, holidays, time of month) can help sharpen the relevance of your message.
UTILIZE THIRD PARTY HEALTHCARE REVIEW SITES/APPLICATIONS
Another excellent way to further your presence online is to sign up and participate with third party healthcare review sites and applications. Websites like Yelp, ZocDoc, Healthgrades, and others are already well established, having been online since the early 2000s. This means that they have a huge database of businesses, reviews, and users. Taking advantage of these existing platforms is a great way to increase the exposure to your own healthcare practice. and if you use them the right way, you can optimize online traffic your way, ultimately leading to more patients.
The first thing you should do is find out what people have already said about you online. It’s more than likely that if you have been operating at any point within the last decade, there will be patient reviews about you online. An easy way to find them is to Google yourself and the name of your practice. It’s probable that the top search results will feature reviews on one or more of the websites mentioned above.
Your next step is to address the reviews, both positive and negative. Let’s take a look at how you can best do this on the following platforms:
In 2004, Yelp was started when the founder, Jeremy Stoppelman, struggled to find reviews or recommendations about local healthcare providers. Today, Yelp has expanded to traffic over 100 million monthly visitors, while also hosting over 36 million reviews pertaining to regional businesses, healthcare practices, and even hospitals. Primarily, Yelp has evolved into the number one online source for consumer reviews about restaurants and other entertainment spots. In fact, only 6% of all reviews on the site relate to health and medical businesses. And yet, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 41% of consumers mentioned that they would use the information found on Yelp and other social media to choosing their health provider.
*Last year, Yelp enabled a feature allowing for certain healthcare information to be displayed on the pages for hospitals, nursing homes, and dialysis clinics. These statistics, gathered by ProPublica and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), will be updated on a quarterly basis. Here is a blog post by Stoppelman further detailing the initiative. Some of the new data that will appear on a facility’s page includes number of beds, readmission rates, and patient survival rates as compared to state averages.
How Can You Use Yelp To Attract Patients?
- Find and Claim Your Yelp Business Page
If your healthcare practice has been reviewed on Yelp, then there is already a listing on the website. All you have to do is claim the page, which will allow you to take advantage of the business tools that Yelp provides.
Image Courtesy of Yelp
- Customize Your Page
Similar to your other social media pages, it is beneficial for you to add as much detail and imaging as possible to your listing. Content is king when it comes to health care providers. The hours of operation, the location of your business, and the procedures offered are all customary on a Yelp page. Listing this information makes it easier for prospective patients to find your practice online. Adding images of your facilities will give a level of comfort to patients and also help them locate your building. Adding pictures of yourself, your staff, and your patients will also provide comfort and a personal touch.
Let’s take a look at Glendale MRI Institute. They have done a great job with their Yelp page.
Image Courtesy of Yelp
You can see that they have added photos of their facilities. They have their hours conveniently listed to the side and they have their location mapped out with Google Maps. You can clearly access their website, or call their office to schedule an appointment. What’s even better is that you can book an appointment directly from the Yelp listing. Clicking the orange button takes you directly to their website where you can easily schedule a time that works for you.
- Take Advantage of the Business Tools that Yelp Offers
Yelp is a great platform for you as a healthcare provider because it gives you insight into your potential patients, your community, and your competitors. Some of the tools that you are provided include the ability to monitor how many people click through to your website, call your listed phone number, or even bookmark the site for future use. But the most valuable tool that you are given is the ability to publicly and privately respond to both positive and negative reviews. Once you claim your Yelp listing, you can address all of the patient concerns on your page.
It is recommended that you respond to all reviews promptly, both bad and good, as reviewers can change their comments if they feel you take the time to attend to their worries. That’s why it is very important to personalize your messages. Sending a personal and private message to a patient ensures that they feel that you are spending your valuable time catering to them. It is also important to publicly address concerns as it can help to improve your page’s layout as well as your business’s public image.
Image Courtesy of Yelp
The image above is a great example of a proper response to a negative review. The office manager at the Chicago branch of One Medical Group starts off by thanking the user for providing feedback, even if it is negative, and then goes on to provide a reason or solution for the problem at hand. In this case, she even offers to have the consumer test a new service that directly addresses her concern. She concludes by asking to follow up privately. This is a great example of how to use reviews to improve the clinic visit for future patients.
The above example also brings up a final point. Remember that all of your staff can be reviewed on Yelp and other review sites. This is because they are directly involved in some aspect of the patient’s visit. Therefore, if the patient felt that one certain part of their care was lacking or inappropriate, it is possible that they may identify a certain staff member. This is why it is beneficial to have the staff listed on Yelp and have them take an active part in commenting on reviews. Whether you have one staff member or multiple staff members monitoring the Yelp page, it is critical that the feedback and suggestions for improvement provided by the users be communicated throughout the organization.
ZocDoc is a scheduling platform that health providers can subscribe to in order to be placed into a huge end-user searchable database. Take a look at their story below:
Image Courtesy of ZocDoc
As detailed in the image above, some of the benefits of subscribing to ZocDoc include:
- Having access to the ZocDoc platform, which allows you to upload your open appointment times, giving patients the power to book instantly online.
- The ability to be reviewed online by patients, and also have these reviews be verified by ZocDoc.
- ZocDoc allows patients to book more than 18,000 different procedures across 50 specialties.
- Patients on ZocDoc are more likely to see a doctor within 24 hours, which is 18 times faster than the national average.
- ZocDoc allows patients to fill out their medical history forms online before any clinical visit. This is great because it saves time during the patient’s visit, which is more likely to lead to an overall positive experience.
ZocDoc charges a flat fee of $3000 per year, per doctor. There is also a 3-year option for $8100 per doctor. Smaller specialty practices may have the option of paying month-to-month at around $300 per doctor.
As you can see, subscription costs are steep, so you must determine whether ZocDoc is a good option for you.
How Do You Know If ZocDoc Is Right For You?
If you are deciding whether ZocDoc is worth the investment for your practice, then it is important to identify what you hope to get out of the service. The following defining features are the most direct results from using ZocDoc’s platform:
- Build Strong Relationships With Patients
ZocDoc as a service is catered towards making the entire clinical visit easier for the patient. Patients have the convenience of booking online, checking in online, and even getting appointment alerts and reminders directly from ZocDoc. These features are ideal in that they build patient loyalty, while not requiring any additional effort on the part of the provider.
- Optimize the Type of Patients that You See
Most healthcare applications promote that they can get you more patients. However, what you really want are the right kind of patients. ZocDoc allows you to customize your profile in order to attract the patients that you want. This means that you will only be searchable by patients with the appropriate insurances at the proper availability times and for the proper procedures.
Image Courtesy of ZocDoc
- Efficiently Manage Your Availability to Maximize Patient Needs
ZocDoc is able to manage your schedule for you. It can automatically schedule last-minute appointments into your calendar based on your availability, optimizing the number of patients you can see. It also monitors all cancellations and reschedulings, which is a huge stress relief for private practice providers. ZocDoc is also a platform for patients to be able to reach you 24/7, if necessary.
- Bolster Your Online Presence
Finally, ZocDoc helps to strengthen your online reputation. Through its platform, ZocDoc is able to enhance your web presence by enabling 100% verified reviews from real patients. Because it is already a well-established service, ZocDoc reaches a large audience and captures feedback consistently.
Image Courtesy of ZocDoc
If you do choose to make the investment, then it is important to optimize your profile so that patients can best find you.
Image Courtesy of ZocDoc
Similar to your other social media pages, you’ll want to create your ZocDoc profile so that it makes a powerful digital first impression. This includes:
- Choosing the right profile photos
- Creating a professional mission statement
- Customizing your profile to include insurances accepted, procedures offered, and real-time availability
- Listing location or multiple locations, and hours of operation
- Enabling patient reviews
Here is a blog post that delves deeper into optimizing your ZocDoc profile.
Founded in 1998, Healthgrades aimed to be the first comprehensive database committed to rating and comparing physicians, hospitals, and health care providers. By 2014, Healthgrades had gathered information on over 3 million U.S. health care providers and facilities.
Healthgrades totes itself as being the best way for prospective patients to find a doctor. Take the following statement from their website:
Image Courtesy of Healthgrades
This could be considered a veiled shot at ZocDoc, as we know that they take pride in offering a doctor’s accepted insurance plans and office hours on their platform. Instead, Healthgrades aims to offer patients the ability to choose a provider based on “knowledge, not chance.”
Image Courtesy of Healthgrades
The Right Doctor
Healthgrades allows patients to look for providers based on the experience they have treating a specific condition. Users are even encouraged to search for doctors by specialty and by procedures performed. Results can then be filtered further based on location, insurance, qualifications (board certification, etc.), patient satisfaction, and hospital or facility quality.
- Patient Satisfaction
Through their large database of patient reviews, Healthgrades is able to create a patient satisfaction score which helps to filter the best-rated providers to the top of searches.
- Hospital Quality
Based on the type of care that a patient needs, he or she can confirm that the provider they choose can also treat them at a highly rated facility or hospital.
If you want to learn more about how Healthgrades optimizes their provider search, you can check their fact sheet here.
Patients will see the following layout for each provider that they encounter during their search.
Image Courtesy of Healthgrades
You can see that the provider name, specialty, location (distance from you), and mission statement are all listed at the top. Then there is a picture of the provider alongside the patient satisfaction score with number of responses, the experience match score, and the hospital quality feature. This layout makes it very easy to compare providers and prospective patients can do so easily by clicking the Compare button below the provider’s photo.
The Right Hospital (or Facility)
Depending on the procedure that a patient needs, he or she may be required to choose a hospital along with the provider. Healthgrades stresses the importance of finding the right hospital due to the risk of complications and death varying among the different centers in a location.
- Doctors and Hospitals Are Linked
All doctors are affiliated with certain hospitals and they only have admitting privileges at those institutions. So, patients must keep in mind that when they are choosing a doctor, they are also choosing the hospital that the doctor is linked to.
- Quality of Care Varies
Healthgrades looks at both mortality and complication rates when evaluating hospitals. It develops its hospital ratings by examining over 500 million claims, based on both federal and private data (patient reviews, experience, satisfaction, etc.). Ratings for specific diagnoses and procedures are based on Medicare claims data from the most recent three year time periods.
There are some who argue that this is not enough data to make conclusions about the quality of care. However, research has shown that evaluating on the basis of mortality and complication is a good measure of clinical quality.
This is an example of what patients would see when evaluating hospitals.
Image Courtesy of Healthgrades
And then based on the department and procedures done at the hospital, they are each rated according to the star system noted above.
Image Courtesy of Healthgrades
From this analysis, it is easy to see that some hospitals deliver better than care than others, specifically when it comes to certain procedures or specialties.
- Minimize Risk
Healthgrades recommends patients choose hospitals that are rated at least three stars in the specific area of care that is needed in order to minimize risk.
The Right Care
The third component of Healthgrades’ interface is for patients to be informed so that they can get the most out of their clinical experience.
- Research Your Condition
Healthgrades offers a wealth of information, including medical articles, slideshows, and videos, that help patients learn more about their condition.
- Prepare For Your Procedure
Patients will receive details on what to expect before, during, and after their procedures.
- Take a Health Test
Patients can take a health assessment in order to better understand their condition so that they can take the necessary next steps.
Image Courtesy of Healthgrades
Not only is Healthgrades a massive tool for patients, but is also greatly beneficial to you as a health provider. The platform helps patients make the right choice for them based on provider, facility, and care.
As a physician using the service, it is up to you to create a detailed profile and ensure that you are providing quality care at both your practice and at the hospital you are affiliated with. If you find that your rating is low, or that the hospital you are linked with has low ratings, then this gives you direction as to where to focus efforts to improve your practice. Take time to provide quality care and encourage patients to leave you reviews on any of the platforms that we have discussed above.
You can even approach your hospital board if they have poor ratings and convey the fact that they are losing patient volume because of this. Remember, as of January 2014, Healthgrades receives almost 17 million unique visitors a month (according to comScore, Inc.).
Finally, a major benefit of Healthgrades over ZocDoc is that it’s free for you to use as a provider. Although it does not offer any scheduling features or real-time patient communication, you are still able to gain a ton of exposure and build your online presence as a provider.
Image Courtesy of Healthgrades
EMBRACE NOVEL HEALTHCARE APPLICATIONS/INNOVATIONS
This last section is meant to help you really differentiate yourself from competitors and the rest of the industry. By implementing novel healthcare applications and software, you are taking a unique step towards providing value to your patients.
Supporting telemedicine and telehealth innovations can secure future growth as the health industry evolves due to the integration of technology and policy.
It is very important to integrate or promote these applications on your website, so as to show patients and potential patients that you are at the forefront of providing the best health care possible.
Your goal here is to find a few platforms or additions to your practice that will take you over the top. Let’s look at a few:
Depending on the EMR that you use, you may already have an integrated patient portal software. Market leaders like athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, and Allscripts all have integrated patient portals that enable features such as patient scheduling, bill pay, real-time communication, and more. As you can see below, these are the cream of the crop in that they offer as many features as possible. However, this is not the case for most integrated systems.
A lot of them are non-user friendly systems that have led to frustration for many providers. This has opened the way for standalone patient portals that normally include more features, are user-friendly, and do not require long term contracts.
Many of these standalone systems offer cloud-based software to practices looking to better engage with their patients. They also provide ancillary services, such as social media integration, email marketing, and mobile apps. Finally, they are interoperable with a variety of other software and systems, allowing you as a provider with some flexibility when it comes to operating your practice.
Here is a great website that allows you to compare patient portal software depending on the specifics of your practice.
Regardless of which option you choose, it is important to offer this software to your patients as it allows for transparency in care, which should ultimately lead to better outcomes and higher satisfaction scores for you and your practice.
E-consults provide an additional resource for patients to reach out to doctors. They are a unique way for health care providers to consult with patients that require more than a phone call, but less than an actual clinic visit. Various e-consulting platforms have been released, some using audiovisual technology for real-time collaboration, and others using text-based services for quick turnarounds and easy documentation. Regardless, e-consults benefit patients by eliminating the need for an additional in-person visit and it benefits care providers by eliminating time and waste.
Blue Shield of California, in partnership with the California Healthcare Foundation and BluePath Health, conducted an e-consult vendor marketing report at the beginning of this year. They identified ten e-consult vendors within the state and evaluated each of them based on certain criteria and features.
You can find that report here.
One of the ten vendors evaluated included our own company, ReferralMD. Our profile actually shows that we are one of the best applications in the marketplace.
ReferralMD’s industry-leading technology platform is designed to help health professionals – referral coordinators, managers, executives, directors of marketing, dentists, physician liaisons, doctors, and staff – manage and engage referral prospects, patients and current referral sources online while providing tools to help promote your practice online.
ReferralMD’s key features include:
- Referral Growth: Five unique ways to boost referral volume with ReferralMD’s platform: email, website, faxing, directory, and network referrals.
- Online Marketing: Optimized profile for search engines and community referral patterns. Know where your best partnerships send their referrals so you can increase your referral sources.
- Referral Management: Track the status of patient appointments between organizations. Improve patient wait times and outcomes.
- Task Reminders: We remind you of important tasks to follow up on every day including messages, patient appointment reminders, referral approvals, and no-shows.
- Customer Service: 2-way communication with referring partners and patients improves your customer service and reputation.
However, ReferralMD is not just a technology provider — we partner with our clients to ensure their continued success by understanding their business needs, listening to their product feedback, and providing regular access to our management team. We also understand that the successful adoption of the software is required in order for healthcare providers to quickly reap the benefits of the system. That is why we have developed the most comprehensive implementation program and an experienced and talented team of project managers, business analysts, trainers, and account managers who are dedicated to supporting your organization throughout the entire life of the relationship.
Please send us your feedback and let us know if you found our guide to be helpful. If you are interested in learning more about either ReferralMD or Agency Other, leave us a comment below or contact us directly. Thank you for taking the time to check out this ultimate guide to getting more patients online. We look forward to hearing from you.