- By Colleen McNamara
Searching online for healthcare information has become just as common as scouting out the best coffee in the city. With the growing popularity off sites like WebMD, the immediacy offered online for answers about one’s health is both a blessing and a curse.
For those in need of answers, having their questions (potentially) answered by a website can be cost and time efficient. However, medically trained professionals might have a different idea about the trend of “self-diagnoses” via the internet.
This online behavior or using the web as a key source of information for anything and everything isn’t going anywhere; our reliance on the web will only continue to rise. That’s why medical professionals need to see this behavior as an opportunity, rather than an ailment.
If you’re in the health industry, you’re already a step ahead. According to the Pew Research Centre, one in three American adults have gone online to find information about a medical condition, and 77% of Americans have used the web for info in the past year.
What does this mean for your clinic, pharmacy, or service? First of all – you’ve already won half of the battle by finding where to target: users are searching online for information that you have. Secondly, there’s a wealth of data available to inform your marketing decisions. All in all, you’re in good health to launch an ultra-successful digital strategy.
Tip 1: Get your local listings in order
An optimized local listing that contains a wealth of relevant information can have a positive impact on your ranking. You need to ask yourself key questions to get started: Is your practice or clinic listed on all of the right directories? More importantly, is the information there up-to-date and accurate? Does your listing include information such as: opening hours, busiest times, how to call, directions, and more?
To learn more about listings optimization, check out Listings Optimization 101.
Tip 2: Ensure you list all of your services clearly
A key advantage of Locator microsites is the ability to host unique content that is related to specific services. For example, if you provide patients with laser eye surgery, perhaps some of your locations in urban areas have provide a greater array of services due to higher demand. To ensure you are providing accurate, relevant information for people within specific areas, these Microsites allow you to align your website content with your directory content – potentially increasing your search engine ranking
Tip 3: Manage your online reputation seamlessly
Online reviews can have an immense impact on the decision-making process for your potential clients.
A study completed by the Journal of the American Medical Association cites that one third of internet users impact their selection of a physician. Some may argue the validity of reviews within the healthcare system, but the fact is that patients will continue to rely on authentic patient feedback to inform their decisions. Having a strategy put in place for your online reputation is integral to managing a successful practice.
Reviews provide your practice with valuable feedback that you may not receive in-office. However, experts recommend that the best practice is not for you to respond to your reviewers directly. The CPMA states:
“Physicians should generally not publicly reply online to specific patients, even if they feel certain about which patient provided the comment or review, nor should they publicly post any specific comments online”
That said, monitoring your reviews is an excellent tool for you to assess how patients feel about the care you provide. Being present on review sites demonstrates that you are open to feedback from your patients—consider it a digital best practice to signify you care how your clients feel about their experience with you.
Where to go from here?
- First and foremost, remember that you’re already in an advantageous position: searchers are actively seeking for the type of information you provide. Just make sure you’re visible where it matters!
- Start with simple tasks and then move onto more complicated ones — clean up your local data and list your services
- From there, focus on a long-term reputation management strategy. In the medical space, reputation management has many important best practices to follow, so ensure you and your team are well-educated.