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    Move Beyond Referrals: Advanced Strategies for Healthcare Marketing

    Posted by Olivia Campbell on May 28, 2024 2:06:26 PM
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    Table of Contents:

    How Patient Leakage Happens
    Implementing The Waterslide Approach
    How PracticeBeat Can Help

    Did you know that 82.8% of patients use search engines to find a healthcare provider, even after they've been referred? Additionally, given that the vast majority of patients will change their minds about a referral due to the provider’s poor or weak online reputation, depending on referrals alone is no longer a viable marketing strategy.

    In both marketing and healthcare, the concept of a "funnel" serves as a vital tool for understanding the patient journey from initial awareness to final decision. At the funnel’s wide opening, potential patients become aware of your practice, often through modern channels like online searches, or personal recommendations. As they progress deeper into the funnel, their engagement increases; they research your services, compare you to other providers, and evaluate your reputation.

    By the time they reach the narrow end of the funnel, they are prepared to make an informed decision—ideally, to choose your practice for their healthcare needs. This process highlights the importance of managing each stage effectively, ensuring that potential patients are not only attracted but also retained and converted into loyal advocates for your services.

    However, many healthcare practices still rely heavily on referrals as their main source of new patients, ignoring the importance of having a strong online presence. While referrals are valuable, they shouldn't be the only means of bringing in new patients—otherwise, your practice will suffer from "patient leakage," where potential patients fall through the cracks and end up at a competing practice.

    Before creating the PracticeBeat platform, Treatspace laid its foundation as a referral network product, so we understand the importance of referrals not only for a patient's health but also for a healthcare practice's growth. However, we know that without a robust digital medical marketing strategy, relying solely on referrals can limit your practice's potential and leave you vulnerable. 

    That's why we've expanded our services to include comprehensive online healthcare marketing options, allowing practices to reach more potential patients than ever before. With the PracticeBeat platform, you can ensure that your practice is not only visible online but also stands out from the competition, effectively filling up your patient funnel and driving growth.

    How Patient Leakage Happens

    Patient leakage refers to the missed opportunities and lost revenue that occurs when your practice fails to attract and convert potential patients. In other words, it's when patients who could benefit from your services end up seeking care elsewhere, often because the competition has a more robust healthcare marketing strategy.

    Weak Presence Online

    At the top of the patient funnel, leakage can occur when potential patients are unaware of your practice due to a lack of online presence. Consider this: 80% of adults have searched the internet for healthcare information. If your practice doesn't have a strong online presence, you're missing out on a significant portion of potential patients. 

    In fact, 63% of patients will choose one provider over another based on online presence alone. Even if a patient has been referred to your practice, if they can’t find your website or social media platforms, you risk losing them to a competitor with a more robust online presence. 

    Lack of Convenience

    Further down the funnel, leakage can occur when potential patients are interested in your practice but struggle to find or access necessary information, such as appointment scheduling or insurance coverage. In today's digital age, patients expect convenience and ease of use when it comes to their healthcare services. 

    If your practice doesn't offer online scheduling, you'll likely miss out on the 94% of patients who would choose a provider if they offered it. And if your website doesn't have clear and easy-to-find information on insurance coverage, patients may turn to a competitor who does.

    Poor Online Reputation

    Leakage can also happen when potential patients research and compare your practice to others. 90% of patients use online reviews to assess potential physicians, and 50% of people trust online reviews as much as recommendations from friends and family. In other words, if your online reputation is lacking or you don't have enough positive patient reviews, they may choose a competing practice with better visibility and credibility.

    Being referred to your practice by another doctor doesn't guarantee that a patient will choose you at the bottom of the funnel, either. 81% of patients will read reviews about a referred provider, even after they’ve been referred, and 90% will change their mind about a referral due to the provider’s poor or weak online reputation. Without a strong digital marketing strategy, you risk losing patients even after they've been referred to your practice.

    Implementing The Waterslide Approach

    So, what can you do if your patient funnel is marred by cracks and holes that lead to patient leakage and missed opportunities?

    Imagine your digital marketing strategy like a waterslide that guides and propels potential patients through each step with ease, from the moment they discover your practice to the point of securing and attending their appointment. This method is built on the principles of ease, efficiency, and engagement, and it can help your practice effectively address the common pitfalls that lead to patient leakage.

    Ultimately, the waterslide approach is about creating an effortless, compelling, and reassuring path for patients, eliminating any resistance or second thoughts that might deter them from completing their healthcare journey with your practice. This methodology not only attracts more patients but also fosters loyalty and satisfaction, driving long-term growth and success for your healthcare practice.

    Have a Well-Designed Website

    Another doctor's recommendation might direct a patient to your practice, but the search doesn't end there. Modern patients take charge of their healthcare decisions, and your practice's website serves as the central hub where these critical impressions are formed.

    It's important that your website be presentable; it should have a consistent color scheme, easy-to-read text, high-resolution images, and a memorable design that represents your brand and services. However, it's not enough for your website to simply be visually appealing; it must also be functional.

    This means ensuring your site loads quickly, has an intuitive layout, and is easily discoverable via search engines. Equally important is mobile optimization, considering the significant portion of users who access the internet via smartphones and other mobile devices. 

    A website that combines aesthetics with functionality offers a clear, engaging, and easy-to-follow pathway for potential patients, keeping them on the waterslide and preventing leakage.

    Maximize Visibility with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

    As mentioned, your website needs to be easily discoverable via search engines. The majority of patients begin their healthcare journey with an online search, and 75% of users don't go beyond the first page of results. This makes it crucial for your practice to appear at the top of search engine rankings.

    Achieving this requires implementing an effective search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that includes optimizing your website's content with relevant keywords, regularly updating your site with a level-one blog, and building backlinks from reputable sources. By doing so, potential patients will be more likely to find your practice when searching for healthcare services, keeping them on the waterslide and moving them closer to booking an appointment.

    Leverage Online Reputation & Fact Management

    Online reputation management is one of the best ways to build trust and credibility with potential patients. This includes actively monitoring and responding to reviews, both positive and negative, as well as encouraging satisfied patients to leave feedback. Additionally, having a collection of positive reviews can serve as social proof and attract more patients to your practice.

    Fact management is also crucial in maintaining a strong online reputation. Incorrect or inconsistent information on online directories, such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Healthgrades, leads to confusion, frustration, and a negative impact on your online reputation. Regularly auditing and updating your information (like your practice's name, address, phone number, and hours of operation) ensures that potential patients have a seamless experience when trying to reach or learn more about your practice.

    Ensure Effortless Accessibility for Patients

    As your waterslide guides potential patients further down the funnel, they eventually reach the point of booking an appointment. The importance of leveraging telemedicine and online scheduling cannot be overstated at this stage. By incorporating telemedicine into your services, your practice can offer flexible, convenient care options that cater to the modern patient's lifestyle and expectations. This not only enhances patient access to care but also positions your practice as forward-thinking and patient-centric.

    Additionally, implementing patient-friendly online scheduling options directly on your website plays a critical role in converting website visitors into actual patients. A system that allows patients to view available appointment times and book their visit with just a few clicks meets the growing demand for convenience and efficiency in healthcare. Coupled with clear calls-to-action (CTAs) placed strategically across your website, you ensure that once patients enter your funnel, they are smoothly and effectively guided to the end.

    How PracticeBeat Can Help

    Navigating the complexities of the modern healthcare landscape requires innovative solutions that streamline patient management and marketing efforts. From Treatspace's referral management capabilities to the comprehensive suite of services offered by PracticeBeat, we bridge the gap to help healthcare practices attract and retain patients, prevent patient leakage, enhance their online presence, and achieve long-term growth and success.

    Here’s a look at what our all-in-one PracticeBeat platform has to offer:

    Website Design and Development: Tailored to create a strong first impression, our web solutions ensure your site is not just visually appealing but optimized for performance and user experience.
    Search Engine Optimization (SEO): With cutting-edge SEO strategies, we help your practice achieve higher rankings, increasing visibility and attracting more patients.
    Online Reputation Management: By activating every patient to provide feedback via text/email, we can help increase your number of reviews, achieve a fair and accurate depiction of your reputation, and help you get insights into the issues that are causing poor patient satisfaction allowing you to address them effectively.
    • Content Marketing: Our content strategies, including bespoke blogging and social media marketing, engage current and prospective patients, create brand awareness, and drive traffic to your website.
    • Online Scheduling Tools: Simplify the appointment booking process with our user-friendly online scheduling system, reducing barriers to patient entry.
    • Analytics and Reporting: Access comprehensive insights into your practice’s performance, enabling informed decision-making to enhance patient acquisition and retention strategies.

    By leveraging PracticeBeat’s capabilities, you ensure that your practice is not just competing but leading in today’s rapidly evolving healthcare landscape. It's time to embrace the waterslide approach to digital medical marketing and watch your practice thrive.

     So why wait? Book a demo with us today to learn more and start your journey towards a better, more effective digital marketing strategy.

    Don't let the competition leave you behind. Let PracticeBeat begin by preparing a detailed assessment of the top performers in your market and specialty. We will show how you perform, share insights into your performance, and tell you how to outperform your competitors. Sign up for a free assessment and demo today, or visit our website to learn more.

    Topics: Practice Growth, Expert Insights, Best Practices