All things being equal, why would a patient choose your practice over the one around the corner? Here’s a hint: it’s not your credentials. Traditionally, and even until recently, physicians’ approach to marketing and generating new patients were centered around the doctors themselves, their credentials, their qualifications, and the level of the technology they offered.
However, the internet and social media have radically changed the way people communicate, and have revolutionized how patients now search for, and choose, their doctors.
So, how can you differentiate your practice immediately from your competitors?
Old modes of patient marketing are becoming less and less effective, to the point of becoming obsolete. The most successful doctors and clinics in America today are using what’s known as a patient-first approach to marketing.
Today’s consumers of medical care are more refined and discerning than ever before. They need more than to see a billboard or a brochure, plastered with the faces of a clinic’s twenty physicians and their credentials; potential patients now seek an emotional connection with their doctor, and they want to know about other people’s experiences with that physician. Many turn to internet review sites such as Vitals.com and Healthgrade.com as well as social media for reviews and recommendations from their peers, in order to make an informed decision about their healthcare provider.
Assuming most, if not all, physicians are board certified, how can you as a doctor differentiate yourself from the rest of the pack? Most prospective patients who visit a doctor’s website already assume the physician has proper credentials; so what sets the doctor apart from the rest is the experience they offer to the patient.
Physicians need to understand in today’s medical market, it’s not about YOU the doctor, it’s about the patients, their stories, and their outcomes. That is what creates authority, connection and interest to drive potential patients into the office. It’s all about trust and accountability.
One of the key aspects of patient-first marketing is sharing the outcome and the benefits right from the patient’s mouth. This has proven to be the most effective means of communication to prospective clients than any other message you can send out.
In a recent industry report by tech resource Software Advice, 62% of surveyed respondents said that they use patient reviews and testimonials to start their search for a new doctor. And 19% use online reviews to validate their choice of a physician before making an appointment. That’s huge! And, as technology and social media begin to play a larger role in our daily lives (and the future lives of those household decision makers) it is imperative to make sure physician offices are proactive in putting their best foot forward and presenting their practice as a patient-first, highly successful and well reviewed business.
Becoming a Trusted Expert
Another key aspect of the patient-first marketing approach, is providing free education and content on the web and via social media channels. By sharing relevant expertise and knowledge, you’ll become a trusted go-to expert in your field, and not only because you’re board certified.
Content tying the patient’s experience to a commonly asked question, or content that combines giving pertinent information about your practice with a patient testimonial can work wonders for your reputation and your practice. It will also position you as an expert in the minds of potential patients as the “go to” for information about your subspecialty in the area.
Next Steps for Your Practice
The key to marketing these days is to build a community; and one of the keys to growing community is to share stories and experiences about members of the ‘family’. Leading with the patient brings down those walls and those barriers to entry – it’s your patients that are being your advocates and that will drive others to your practice. So get moving and start sharing.
By Jennifer Thompson