How many times have you been walking along and nearly collided with someone staring at their phone? Many people are clearly absorbed with their mobile devices. And the majority of that time is spent on apps—like Facebook and Instagram. So can healthcare providers reach these same people through social media, where their attention is so heavily concentrated?
Mobile Now Rules
Today, consumers frequently research products and services on mobile devices. And they use the same devices when searching for healthcare providers. Some quick stats on mobile consumer behaviors:
According to Adweek, over 1/3 of all U.S. retail sales involved a mobile device in 2018
76% of consumers have purchased a product or service from a social media post or advertisement (Curalate)
For consumers, having instant access to information, connections, products, and services in the palm of their hands is something they can’t imagine living without. For savvy healthcare marketers, social platforms—which are most often accessed via mobile devices—present opportunities to get in front of the right people and turn clicks into patients.
The State of Social Media and Healthcare
Social media has completely changed the way people think about healthcare. In fact, it’s put the healthcare consumer almost in complete control. People self-diagnose, can learn about conditions, access information, interact with providers, and connect with online support communities.
A wide range of consumers now rely on social media platforms for healthcare information or solutions for their family members. Caregivers are especially active on the web and social media, using it to gather health information and support.
A PEW Research study revealed that 52% of caregivers participated in online social activity related to health in the past year. 70% were seeking information and support online for their loved one.
What platforms are they using?
Despite what your kids or grandkids may believe, Facebook is still crushing it in terms of active users. More than 2 billion worldwide users check their feeds each month—more than any other social media platform today. Facebook-owned image-based platform Instagram has over 1 billion monthly active users.
More specifically, Facebook is the overwhelming leader for engaging healthcare content. A WEGO Health behavioral intent study analyzed the impact online communities have on healthcare decisions for specific conditions. Facebook emerged as the most popular platform, with:
87% of study participants saying they share health information via Facebook posts
81% of study participants reporting sharing health information via Facebook messenger
91% study participants revealing that online communities play a role in their health decisions
Video, Video, Video
Did you know? Vision is the dominant sense in humans. It’s no surprise that engagement with video content on social media is healthy. In fact, 65% of Wibbitz survey respondents engaged by sharing, commenting or liking, and 10% engaged with nearly every video they watched. Video instantly sparks emotion and personal connection; enticing viewers to seek more information.
Healthcare providers can use social media to engage with prospective patients through the online videos they watch every day. Social powerhouses Facebook and Instagram account for nearly 90% of all video watched by users.
But why does video marketing convert to traffic and leads more effectively than other forms of content?
Video can make your point quicker
Video allows you to share a human element (be it you or a patient)
You can showcase the value of your services in a more engaging way
Social Media Presence vs. Social Media Advertising
Having a social media presence today is par for the course for most practices, but to draw patients to your door, paid social media advertising is a key strategy. Don’t get us wrong, organic posts have value. You can educate people, create patient communities, build awareness for your practice and promote services. But you won’t be generating leads—and if you do, you’ll be doing so from a very limited audience. (Organic, or unpaid, reach on social media is down to 6.4% of your current followers.)
With social media advertising, or paid social, you can create ads featuring video, with focused content (like “teeth whitening” as opposed to “dental services”) and direct them to audiences who have recently searched for that service. (This is called retargeting.) Alternatively, you can customize your audience to a very specific demographic that may be interested in your services.
Where do you start? Partner with social media experts who can guide you on everything from strategy to bidding to tracking ROI.
Social Media Can Be a Shot in the Arm for Your Practice
There are quite a few social platforms to consider when it comes to placing ads. While multiple touchpoints work well in many cases, this won’t always be true in healthcare social media.
For instance, advertising innovative treatments for prostate problems likely won’t get you many inquiries from Snapchat’s or Instagram’s younger audiences. But you could run heavy on Facebook to capture an over-40 male target with a greater chance to get clicks and calls.
The beauty of paid social is that it can be tracked and adjusted mid-campaign if necessary—to alter the content, target audience or timing.
For valuable insights on building your brand, reaching people on the platforms they spend time on each day, and leading-edge video strategies, contact Healthcare Success, a full-service healthcare marketing agency, at 800-656-0907.
Relationship building has always been an essential part of the doctor-patient dynamic. Today, however, patients hope the doctor-patient relationship will become increasingly digital.
Of course, it’s just as important to meet in person as it always was. But for patients (and potential patients) with busy lives, it’s a good idea to have multiple touchpoints. And what better way to do so than with the devices we use every day?
These 4 technologies will help patients feel more connected to your practice. You’ll stay top of mind with patients who haven’t yet picked your team as their healthcare providers—and remind current patients you’re here when they need you.
Technology’s Shifting Role in Doctor-Patient Relationship Building
Just a decade ago, most patients didn’t expect to hear from their doctors very often. And the experience could often be frustrating. Caring providers have always done all they can to see patients in need, but the doctor-patient relationship is strained when contact is limited to regular business hours through confusing phone trees and unclear scheduling policies.
Today, patients prefer—and often expect—to receive communications like appointment reminders digitally. Many would much rather schedule an appointment online than over the phone, and many more would love additional options for online communication and health information.
Changing the technology you use to communicate with patients—both current and prospective—can be a game-changer for your organization. Competing healthcare providers are already using these 4 methods to reach people outside of the office. Can you keep up?
#1: Text Messaging
Here’s an easy question: what do most patients do to fill time the moment they’re alone in an exam room? Check their phones! The modern healthcare consumer is an avid texter, and may be more likely to respond to a text than answer the phone. In fact, 97% of people in the U.S. use text messaging weekly, and most use it every day (Pew Research Center).
Here’s the challenge: standard SMS messaging may not be HIPAA compliant due to the lack of encryption (HIPAA Journal). However, SMS messaging is not the only way to “text” a patient.
To ensure all text communication is HIPAA compliant, you should look into options other doctor’s offices are already using, like Spruce. If a patient has a concern with a medication, needs a refill, or just has a quick question, they can contact their doctor via the app.
#2: A Healthcare CRM
Another way to reach patients on the devices they use every day is via email. We often recommend email marketing to touch base with those who have called or filled out a form on your website, but haven’t yet taken the next step to sign up for an appointment.
One of the best ways to do this is with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that allows you to streamline your marketing processes and keep in touch with those who aren’t quite ready for an appointment—but may be very soon.
As with texting, be careful with how you handle any PHI. In addition, always check that emails are mobile-friendly. More people now read email on their phones than on a desktop computer!
#3: Social Media
Granted, not many people find their healthcare provider through social media. But it’s worth allowing those that go above and beyond to research your facility and see what you’re all about.
Besides, taking ownership over your social media accounts has SEO value, helping you take control over what patients see when they search your name. It’s a great place to show off the relaxing (or energetic) atmosphere in your office and showcase your staff.
Businesses have long been welcome to develop and submit “skills” to the Alexa platform—Amazon’s virtual assistant and voice search platform. However, only a select group of healthcare providers and companies were recently selected to develop skills as Amazon unveiled its HIPAA enablement.
This option may not be available to all organizations—yet. But it’s only a matter of time before your competitors have voice apps that help people find the closest location, schedule an appointment, or even access medical records.
Occasionally, I hear from a doctor or healthcare executive, “We don’t need a lot of marketing. Everyone in the community already knows us.”
To that, I have to say: “Are you sure?” Remember, you spend a lot of time with your own brand, and it’s easy to forget that very few people have even a fraction of the interaction you do. Healthcare branding is how top hospitals, groups, and practices stay top of mind to their key demographics—whether they need services now or not.
And if you don’t have some combination of direct response marketing and branding in your marketing strategy, you’re missing out on the chance to engage your community over and over again.
Organizations can overestimate their influence in the community
Many healthcare organizations vastly overestimate brand awareness in their communities. Think “everyone already knows who you are?” Statistically, that’s highly unlikely.
Now, let’s say you work for the only hospital in a small town. Community members may know your hospital exists. But are they able to recall your brand when asked about specific service lines or ambulatory care services?
Brand recognition certainly matters. But brand recall—the ability to recall your name when asked about a specific service you offer—can provide leverage in your community.
Other healthcare brands may be top of mind
Here’s a great example of the importance of brand recall. My CEO, Stewart Gandolf, told me about a time he went to visit a client—one of the largest oncology practices in the country. On the way there, he conducted an admittedly (very) informal survey, asking people in the airport, in the taxi, and even at the grocery store on the way to the hotel: “If you had cancer, where would you go for treatment?”
Of about 15-20 locals, not a single one named this cancer center located in their own backyards. In fact, one of the people he surveyed worked at the bank right across the street from this cancer center. Most named nationally recognized organizations like MD Anderson. Once they were given the name of our client, many (though not all) recognized it, but few could recall it at top of mind.
Of course, this is only anecdotal evidence. The point is that people are bombarded with messaging about competitors, even those located outside of your community, every day. And these branding efforts could put competitors ahead, even in the minds of your own neighbors.
Why healthcare branding matters
Your perception of your brand is in front of you every single day. And no matter what, that means you have a biased view.
But let’s say you do have high brand awareness in the community, and people would name your organization among their top choices for care right now. Does that mean you should stop promoting your brand? Absolutely not.
It’s the reason multi-billion-dollar companies continue to spend money on traditional media like billboard ads. Do you need a sign to remind you that McDonald’s serves hamburgers? Probably not. But McDonald’s will continue to funnel mass amounts of money into their billboards and other media to make sure Burger King doesn’t become your fast food joint of choice.
More than this, they’ll fine-tune their brand positioning with time to make sure ads address the needs of the consumer. And while healthcare may seem like several leaps away from a fast food branding strategy, the principles come from the same idea.
Healthcare branding best practices
Marketing 101 tells us it typically takes many touchpoints with a brand before someone will become a customer (or patient). Direct response marketing, which uses a call-to-action in prompting a direct response from the consumer, is of vital importance today, especially with the ever-increasing rise in healthcare digital marketing.
But branding strategies can incorporate some direct response strategies, while working hand-in-hand with other marketing efforts to increase the chances of reaching new patients at the right point in time.
When all roads lead to digital marketing, a fantastic branding strategy can reach patients via social media ads that drill down on branding while providing a call-to-action for the consumer.
What matters most is that your branding strategy is well-thought-out and based on data-driven marketing. The right healthcare marketing agency can help you bridge the gap between direct response marketing and healthcare branding.
If you’re ready to boost your brand and see results from your marketing, call me or my team at 800-656-0907 today.
You and your staff know exactly why patients should choose your practice or hospital. You’ve probably got a great team and impressive expertise. And you truly care about the needs of your patients. But is this enough to keep patients coming back?
Lately, other healthcare organizations have been improving their products and services in ways that go above and beyond the standard set decades ago. We’d typically recommend targeted healthcare marketing to compete in the changing world of healthcare—but marketing means little if you don’t have an attractive product offering.
In today’s guide, we’ll share with you how many practices and hospitals have overhauled their business models. But in many cases, even a few smaller changes can make a major difference in how patients perceive your brand.
Healthcare Is Changing Faster Than Ever
“Healthcare consumerism” is not a new term to this blog or to the large majority of our readers. Retail healthcare settings like CVS and Walmart are gaining popularity, especially as they continue to provide access to services desirable to consumers, including telehealth.
It might seem tough to compete in a world where big names cater to the healthcare consumer and where we’re often seeing rollups of 100+ practices in a variety of specialties. But many health systems, hospitals, and independent practices have found ways to compete. It takes strategic marketing to reach the modern healthcare consumer. But more than that, it takes a fantastic product offering.
New Models of Care
Of course, the options available for new business models in healthcare vary significantly based on specialty. But as an overview, these are the new models of care gaining significant traction in healthcare today:
Direct primary care
These models and services are not limited by practice size either. We’ve seen two-doctor practices introduce successful telehealth models—and we’ve seen hospitals and large health systems introduce direct primary care as an alternative to traditional options.
In fact, the direct primary care model—which offers a more affordable alternative to concierge medicine with an emphasis on individualized attention—has seen a sharp increase in interest. A decade ago there were only 21 DPC practices in the country. Today, there are over 1,000.
Again, these models may not be available to every type of practice or every situation, but there are many instances where just a few small changes to how you deliver care can make all the difference.
Small Changes that Mean a Lot
If it’s been years since you’ve restructured the way you run your practice or hospital, it’s worth examining your systems and services and considering a change. Small changes to the way you deliver care mean a lot to your patients. Just look at this practice that reduced wait times to under 2 minutes.
Thanks to evolving retail models of healthcare, patients have shifting views on what constitutes a good healthcare experience—like low wait times, easy scheduling, and greater access to doctors. So what can you do to create a healthcare “product” patients will love?
Look into new technologies, systems, and processes to speed along wait times.
Update your website with easy-to-use navigation and online scheduling.
Offer ongoing training for your front desk staff.
Add telehealth, even in a small way. If you’re unable to offer this as a primary service, consider something like Spruce to allow patients to text or follow up with doctors directly if they have any urgent issues or questions.
Collect patient feedback via a review management system. Be open to changes when patients note their frustrations with your office or hospital.
Great Healthcare Marketing Relies on a Fantastic Product
As a healthcare marketing agency, we see firsthand that marketing is key to setting your organization apart from the competition. But that means little if patients don’t find what they’re looking for from your practice or hospital.
At a time when email inboxes are overflowing, how else can you reach prospective patients in your area without overwhelming them?
In fact, a piece of healthcare-related mail can be a nice break from the screen, a physical reminder that a local specialist, practice, or hospital is here to offer care whenever you need it. We’ve got 5 fantastic reasons to mail to your community in today’s guide.
Healthcare mail guidelines to keep in mind
Obviously, in creating any advertisement for your business, you should heed the guidelines of your accrediting body. If your board prohibits certain phrases or offer types, avoid these and anything else that could put your reputation at risk.
Beyond that, general guidelines for mail include knowing your audience, creating an appealing offer, and keeping your brand memorable. Once you’ve done this, there are so many reasons to get your brand in the hands of local patients.
1. There’s a lot less mail in inboxes today
Many people believe traditional mail advertising is nearly dead—in part because they’ve noticed the dwindling volume in their own mailboxes. But that’s a fact that actually works in your favor.
We’ve been recommending direct mail more and more to healthcare businesses in part because there is so much less of it. Mailboxes are no longer occupied by fliers from the newspaper (due to cutbacks) and there are fewer paper bills thanks to online billing.
People are typically far more overwhelmed by their email inboxes than the mailbox at home. Your piece of mail stands out—especially if you’ve got a great offer—and this is something we’ve been able to prove time and time again.
2. You can personalize and target mail to your audience
If you make an appealing offer and have qualified your target audience, you can expect a positive response. With direct mail, we can often drill down on qualified households before beginning a campaign. For example, you can specifically target households with women occupants who are 40+.
In addition, you’re able to personalize a piece of mail to improve the potential response. You may be able to get the first name of the resident you’re trying to target, but if not you can always use a last name, as in “Ms. Smith.”
3. Direct mail is a physical reminder of your healthcare business
We’ve seen some of the best long-term results from mailers that offer some sort of physical reminder recipients can save and retain until they need it.
For example, a mailer for an urgent care facility may include a magnet that stays on the refrigerator for weeks, months, or a year before someone has an urgent need and remembers the number on the fridge. Because we use unique tracking numbers in many of our direct mail campaigns, we can see that this happens often.
Even if you don’t include a magnet, any well-thought-out mailer is an excellent touchpoint with your brand. Holding a personalized postcard in your hand is a unique experience today. While digital ads are highly visual, interacting with a piece of mail is a tactile engagement that can improve brand recognition.
4. Direct mail works hand-in-hand with other marketing strategies
In many cases, direct mail can supplement your other forms of marketing—or vice versa. It’s not at all uncommon for our clients to hear things like, “I got your postcard in the mail, but I also hear your ads on the radio all the time.”
In general, the more touchpoints you have to an individual, the more chances you have to get that person as a new patient. Patients interact with your brand in many ways, and it’s rarely a good idea to have one type of ad running. The key is to strategically allocate your budget so prospective patients hear the right message at the right time.
5. We’ve seen fantastic results from direct mail campaigns
Of course, you’re probably most concerned about one thing: results. We’ve seen some fantastic returns on investment from many of our direct mail campaigns.
But it all hinges on both strategy and creativity. We’ve seen the best results from campaigns that meet one or more of the following guidelines:
Includes an offer with the word “free” (such as a free vein screening)
Announces a new location
Includes an object that takes up physical space in the home—like a magnet
In many of these cases we were able to track costs per inquiry of less than $200. Many of these inquiries are highly qualified and are extremely likely to become new patients.
So find the right offer, target your key demographics, measure your results, and work with the right healthcare marketing agency to see for yourself that direct mail is far from death’s door.
In a recent study, 90% of older adult internet users said they’ve used social media to find or share health information. Undoubtedly, social media is a major part of many people’s lives. And if you’re in the business of healthcare, social media may help increase brand loyalty and boost your reputation.
You just may need a little help getting started setting up and maintaining your healthcare social media account. But first, make sure you know what you’re getting into…
Healthcare Social Media: Is It Really Worth It?
Here’s the hard truth: Facebook’s organic reach is dead. Businesses hoping to reach potential patients and clients by simply posting somewhat frequently on Facebook are extremely unlikely to see a return. Due to changing algorithms on Facebook and Instagram, followers are much less likely to see organic (unpaid) posts from your brand than from their own friends and family.
That said, it is certainly worth setting up and claiming your social media accounts. Updating your social media accounts can also boost search engine optimization and generate patient referrals. But if you’re simply hoping to gain patients from your marketing efforts, we recommend you do not spend a large portion of your time on organic social media.
Paid advertising is another story. Targeted campaigns reach people throughout your geographic target (not just followers) based on age, gender, and other qualities. For this, we recommend hiring a healthcare social media advertising agency.
Either way, you’ll want to get your account up and running as soon as possible, and establish some guidelines for posting and sharing. Here’s what a healthcare social media account manager should do.
1. Create a new page (or claim an existing one)
Of course, the first step with any new social media platform is creating your new page. With Facebook, you’ll simply go to facebook.com/business and follow the directions on the screen.
You’ll be able to link this new business page to an existing personal profile or create a new profile to manage the page. You can also invite current employees as administrators and give select access to posting and editing capabilities.
In some cases, a Facebook page already exists for a business thanks to patients checking in at your location and tagging themselves on Facebook. In this case, you can claim the page using these instructions.
To setup an Instagram account for business, first create an account from the Instagram app on your phone or tablet. Then, find the settings (the gear icon on your page) and press “Switch to Business Account.”
Twitter’s page creation is incredibly simple. Keep in mind that Twitter uses the same profiles for business pages and personal pages. Simply go to Twitter.com to set up your new account.
2. Learn your social media platform
Once you’ve updated your basic information, you’ll want to get to know the particular platform you’re working in. Each platform is unique. For example:
It’s a good idea to use relevant hashtags on Twitter and Instagram, but it’s not very useful on Facebook.
On Twitter and Instagram, it’s a good idea to start following other accounts related to yours as soon as possible.
Facebook is a great place to post and share events.
3. Get to know your audience
Doctors may be interested in sharing the latest research studies or stats on the newest equipment out there. But do you think patients want to comb through a complicated 30-page report? Of course, patients are interested in your expertise. However, they would prefer an easy-to-read, quick professional assessment of a study.
Learn what types of content your audience prefers, and try to contribute something they will appreciate and share.
Can you explain a new treatment option briefly and succinctly (or link to a source that does this)?
Can you direct them to in-person or online support groups for their illness or recovery?
Do you have an announcement to make about your location or services? (Note: Important announcements to existing patients are better left in email inboxes.)
4. Use clear images throughout your profile and posts
A plain text post may go over well with your friends and family. But if you’re trying to attract attention from prospective patients, images and video are key to gaining attention—especially with paid social media advertising.
You don’t need any fancy equipment for this. The latest iPhone takes incredible high-quality images. However, if you don’t already have a collection of in-house photos to use in your posts, stock photos are a good way to go. There are free stock photos available on sites like Unsplash and Pexels.
You can also overlay text using free, easy-to-understand tools like Canva.
5. Remain compliant with HIPAA and other regulations
Of course, you take HIPAA and other regulations seriously, but it helps to remind staff members who are the most active on your social media platforms.
We recommend consulting a lawyer if you are unsure of any issues of compliance. Some starting tips:
Photos of patients and clients, of course, require their signed consent.
Any pharmaceutical promotion requires disclosure of risks, etc.
Patients may comment on your page regarding their visit, but you should take care not to confirm they are a patient.
Organic Social Media vs. Paid Healthcare Social Media Ads
Some doctors have seen success by posting organically on social media—but these accounts are few and far between. If you hope to gain followers as a “thought leader” in your specialty, you’ll have to post very frequently and become involved in conversations online daily.
Still, thought leadership does not guarantee patients in your area. Social media can help build your brand and even improve morale around the office—but it’s not recommended for lead generation. That is, unless you work with a social media advertising agency to target local patients in your demographic.
For more information, call our team of experienced healthcare marketers at 800-656-0907.
You can also buy my new book, Cash-Pay Healthcare, for even more detailed information about social media marketing and more invaluable advice for healthcare businesses.
The first thing I do when I see healthcare news that interests me or scares me (or both) is go online and try to find more information. It’s a common modern reaction to search for a meaningful explanation of a new treatment or resurgent disease. And hopefully I can find more than a few comments on Facebook or a “hot take” with no supporting research or expertise.
Healthcare organizations, health systems, and hospitals have the opportunity to leverage trending news stories for marketing purposes and to provide a place for patients to find reputable information. Let’s talk about “newsjacking.”
How Newsjacking Is Used by Healthcare Content Creators
Newsjacking is a term coined by David Meerman Scott to describe the concept of adding your input to a trending news story in your industry for potential PR or marketing benefit. If you’re considering adding your take to an element of the news, you’d be far from the first. This tactic has been used by healthcare organizations for many years to benefit patients and organizations alike.
Some examples of healthcare newsjacking:
A blog post from a hospital or practice that expands on vaccine options as news outlets continue to report on the spread of measles.
A physician’s take on a new clinical trial or treatment in your specialty.
A closer look at how a new regulation will affect doctors (from a company that hopes to reach more physicians and practices).
Doctors have the opportunity to add their expertise to an international, national, or local health-related conversation. With so much misinformation available online, it’s important to have more reputable voices participating. In addition, newsjacking can be a major boost to your public relations and marketing strategies.
Benefits of Healthcare Newsjacking
Newsjacking is just a small part of a balanced marketing strategy, but there are many advantages to jumping on a news story early and insightfully (as long as you do it right!).
You can improve your website’s search engine optimization by taking steps to help your article rank for a trending term.
You can help people find an informed assessment from a legitimate medical source.
A successful post can lead to earned media from news outlets that want to interview you or your team.
You may boost your reputation as a “thought leader” in your field.
However, potential benefit depends on how often you try the technique, whether your take on the subject matter is unique, and how quickly you’re able to leverage the content (without waiting too long to press “Publish” on that post).
Tips for Leveraging Healthcare News
Follow news sources your patients/clients are reading. Remember, patients probably don’t read the same industry news sources as you do. Consider popular blogs and support forums for patients and healthcare news sources like Yahoo or the New York Times.
Keep your stories sorted in an RSS feed that provides alerts for key terms. Use a service like Feedly to save the news that’s most important to you.
Act fast! The timeline for relevancy in some cases is just a few hours, and in most cases a few days.
Be original. In order to be successful, find a fresh take on a topic. Avoid sounding like the dozens of other thinkpieces published that week.
The truth is that newsjacking may not be the right strategy for every organization—at least not on a regular basis. There is a limit on the timeliness of the story, and you will have to act fast.
In addition, it can take quite some time to build enough of an audience to gain recognition for your post. Search engine optimization will not improve overnight and requires many other factors aside from a successful blog post to gain traction.
What’s most important is that your content strategy does the following:
Helps patients get the information they need.
Guides patients to your organization for further information and treatment.
Other than that, it’s a matter of finding the right resources and using the right platforms to strategically share your content.
For more information on content strategy or to talk to a marketing strategist today, call Healthcare Success, a full-service marketing agency, at 800-656-0907.
Recently, we’ve heard a lot more practice and hospital marketing leaders talking about Instagram marketing. Healthcare may have been slow to adopt social media marketing and advertising techniques in the past. But today’s healthcare professionals are open to exploring new platforms…as long as it’s the right fit for their audiences.
Not sure what Instagram has to offer for your healthcare business? You’re not alone. Many people believe that “Gen Z” and teenagers are far more active than other groups on the photo-centric social media platform. But the statistics may surprise you:
Just as many 25-34 year olds use Instagram (32% of users) as 18-25 year olds (32% of users).
Teens only make up 7% of Instagrams users.
15% of Instagram users are age 35-44 (that’s 131 million people).
These are key healthcare decision makers for themselves and their families. And it is possible to reach these demographics through targeted Instagram marketing for healthcare…if you have a solid strategy in mind.
1. Build Credibility and Educate Patients
Sadly, there is a lot of misinformation on the internet—and this can be especially harmful when it comes to medicine. Instagram is a popular place to find a community and seek answers. But those “answers” are not always rooted in science.
Doctors and medical organizations have an opportunity to combat this problem while also working to build their brands. By creating high-quality, credible content and sharing it on platforms like Instagram, you can reach new potential patients while helping to educate the general public about important health issues.
However, when your content is only promoted organically (without the help of advertising) it does take quite a bit of work to begin building an audience. Healthcare professionals who hope to succeed organically will have to post frequent content and find a niche if they expect to gain followers. More importantly, followers rarely translate into actual patients.
2. Recruit the Best and Brightest
Before we get into how you can use Instagram to convert new patients, let’s talk a bit about what doctors who aren’t Dr. Sandra Lee (@drpimplepopper) can achieve through regular or semi-regular organic (unpaid) posts on Instagram.
You can always use Instagram to market your organization for recruiting purposes. We’ve all heard about how employers often review the social media pages of their potential candidates. But potential employees do the same thing!
Instagram is the perfect visual platform to show off your organization, your culture, and daily life on the job (without showing any photos of patients that violate HIPAA, of course). You can attract motivated employees who care about social outreach and the broader implications of the work that they do. And if a patient happens to stop by your page, they’ll be relieved to know that your team is committed to the values of your organization.
3. Attract New Patients with Instagram Ads
The fact is that patients won’t see your posts organically unless you have built up quite a large following. And those followers won’t necessarily be qualified patients ready to book an appointment.
Thankfully, the Instagram ads platform allows you to target your audience with quite a bit of precision. Because Facebook owns Instagram, you’ll use the same platform to target specific audiences within both social media platforms based on age, location, interests, and much more.
Instagram ads are also very affordable compared to many other platforms, making it the ideal place to delve into the world of social media advertising. With the right strategy and a bit of persistence, you can attract new patients while also spreading a positive message of health education to your patients and your community.
Looking for Help with Your Online Marketing Strategy?
Healthcare Success is a full-service healthcare marketing agency that partners with medical professionals and organizations to help them win patients and see results. Call our team at 800-656-0907 for your consultation.
The internet was in a bit of an uproar this week after Amazon admitted that employees listen to select customer conversations with Alexa, Amazon’s voice-enabled assistant.
Yet, the tech giant seems unfazed by the news, noting that employees only listen to a handful of recordings with the ultimate goal of improving communications. In fact, Amazon’s data has allowed them to develop HIPAA-enabled “skills” within Amazon Alexa, allowing a select number of healthcare developers to begin creating for the platform.
So what does this mean for Amazon’s role in the healthcare space? And what can we expect for the future of healthcare with voice assistants playing a more important role in patient’s lives?
Amazon Alexa customers can enable “skills” that can switch on the lights, start up coffee makers, read the weather, take notes, read an audiobook, and much more. Now, select health developers have been given the opportunity to develop advanced skills for healthcare consumers, announcing the release of HIPAA-enabled skills.
In other words, select Amazon Alexa skills can now receive and transmit Protected Health Information through the voice assistant. Amazon has likely made some major changes to the way it handles the data that comes through these new HIPAA-compliant apps (including employees’ access to voice transcripts). Amazon’s website includes the following disclaimer with its new healthcare skills:
“This skill may allow healthcare organizations to process your health information. Content provided by this skill may be available to anyone using your Alexa devices, but to protect your interactions with these organizations, your Alexa interaction history and activity cards associated with this skill will not be viewable in the Alexa App or via www.amazon.com/alexaprivacy.”
Healthcare Skills You Can Try on Alexa Right Now
As part of its rollout for HIPAA-enabled apps, Amazon invited select developers to create skills that integrate PHI and help patients get the services they need. So far, Amazon has announced 6 new healthcare skills developed by big names including Cigna, Atrium Health, and Express Scripts.
Here are some of the skills some Alexa customers can try right now.
“Alexa, list my incentives.” Any Alexa user can enable Answers by Cigna Health to get answers to tough questions about healthcare and healthcare coverage. Select Cigna customers (currently open to employees of American Eagle Outfitters) can enable Cigna Health Today and ask for specific information about their health plan.
“Alexa, what’s my blood sugar?” Livongo for Diabetes’ program members can ask Alexa for the most recent reading from their Livongo device.
“Alexa, where’s the nearest urgent care?” Alexa users located near an Atrium Health or Swedish Health Connect can find the urgent care nearest to their location and even schedule an appointment at select locations.
“Alexa, where’s my prescription?” Customers using the service Express Scripts can track their orders through Alexa.
Amazon’s Big Plans for Healthcare
It’s not exactly a secret that Amazon has big plans to move into the healthcare space. Early last year, Amazon purchased its own online pharmacy, PillPack. It also joined forces with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan, announcing plans to create a low-cost healthcare plan for employees. In fact, these were only two of a long list of healthcare moves from Amazon 2018 (detailed in Becker’s).
Amazon’s inclusion of healthcare apps that can collect and transmit PHI is likely a major part of this shift. After this launch phase, Amazon can begin to incorporate its own products and services into the voice platform, including its investment in the pharmaceutical industry and its developing health plans. There’s no telling how far it may go.
What Healthcare Providers Can Learn and Expect
With only 6 HIPAA-compliant healthcare apps available currently on the Alexa platform, what can the rest of us learn and expect from Amazon moving forward?
Amazon’s recent investment in healthcare is proof the tech giant believes voice search is a way of the future. Amazon’s data points to the fact that patients are searching for health information online. And Amazon knows that customizing this information to each person’s needs can only add value to a customer’s experience.
Healthcare providers can expect to see much more from the voice assistant over the next few years. The most proactive of providers and organizations will reap the most benefit. While the current skills were developed by invite only, Amazon hopes to release more healthcare skills in the near future and invites developers to receive updates and submit potential use cases.
Otherwise HCPs should be aware of the role voice assistants play in the lives of many of their patients. You may be able to help improve your chances of appearing in voice search by improving your search engine optimization. For the most part, doctors, marketers, and hospital leadership should stay informed and be ready for major shifts in the coming years.
In the business of healthcare, the level of care you provide will always be the most important thing. However, that doesn’t mean that doctors, hospitals, and practice groups should ignore those “little” things that can make or break a patient’s experience.
These 5 seemingly small details can mean stronger reviews, better word-of-mouth, and, ultimately, better patient conversions AND patient retention.
But no matter how long patients sit in your waiting room, they’ll notice the little things. If the seats are uncomfortable or full of rips and tears, if the bathroom trash can is overflowing, if the place smells overly sterile (or not clean enough), patients care. It may be just the thing that sends them in another direction the next time they need care.
On the other hand, patients take note when an office environment is clean and modern. Reupholstering chairs and auditing your cleaning crew is a great place to start if you want to make a change. But a bit more innovation can grow your word-of-mouth and keep patients coming back!
2. Reminders for appointments
A HIPAA-compliant email or text-based appointment reminder system can make a major difference. According to a recent study by SolutionReach, there is an optimal patient appointment reminder system that can increase patient confirmations by 156%.
Give patients a helpful email reminder 3 weeks before an appointment, 3 days before an appointment, and 3 hours prior to appointment time. You can see SolutionReach’s informative ebook for more.
3. Office hours
Having trouble getting patients to book an appointment? Maybe it’s your office hours. Patients appreciate the opportunity to book an appointment before or after typical work and school hours. Not only does it allow a busy working parent to schedule a convenient time; it also improves confidence in your care, showing patients you value their time.
Of course, this can be difficult for single-provider locations. In this case, many doctors choose just one or two days a week to stay open later or schedule early appointments. For specialty services, some providers keep one or two Saturdays a month open for consultations.
4. Remembering personal details
A good doctor knows how much patients appreciate when physicians spend a little extra time to get to know them. However, that’s not always easy to do on a busy schedule. Still, remembering just one or two small details about a patient can help instill confidence that you value their personal well-being and are tailoring your care to their best interest.
Jot down small details after an appointment (in a HIPAA compliant manner) to show that you’re paying attention. Next time, follow up on health information but ask about something “small” as well: “How did your daughter’s first day of school turn out?” “Is the construction coming along on your home?” Soon, it can become second nature to you.
5. Website Speed
There was a time when we were all accustomed to waiting seconds or even minutes for a website to appear. Now, however, we all expect a website to load almost instantly. Whether or not it’s conscious, patients grow less patient by the second when a website takes longer than 5 seconds to load.
The fact is that patients have options. If there is anything frustrating about your website, if the speed inhibits their ability to get your contact info or doctor bio, for example, they can simply give up and move on to the next closest specialist or primary care physician.
Improving your website speed and user experience is a relatively simple way to improve patient conversions. It can even improve your position in the search engines. We recommend auditing and updating your website every 1-2 years, at least, to ensure yours is up-to-date.