- By Colleen McNamara
Searching online for healthcare information has become as common as the “best restaurant near me” inquiry. With the popularization of sites like WebMD, the immediacy offered online for certain health inquiries has been both a blessing and a curse. For people with access to the internet, having your questions (potentially) answered by a website can both cost and time efficient. That said, ask any trained medical professional how they feel about the trend of “self diagnoses” guided by websites — and you’ll be met with frustration.
But instead at casting a negative shadow on the prevalance of health-related searches, medical professionals need to see this as a prime opportunity rather than an ailment. The habit web users have developed in consulting Google, Bing, Yelp, RateMD and more, as soon as they’re need of information, means that you already have an audience, which is half of the battle. Herein lies the challenge: you want to make sure that the people who need your services find you when they’re looking. There’s a formula for that, and we’re here to help you get your digital strategy up and running.
Tip 1: Get your local listings in order.
Is your office or clinic offered on all of the right directories? More importantly, is the information there up-to-date and accurate? Does your listing offer information such as: opening hours, busiest times, how to call, directions, and more? The more meat you have on your local listings, the higher you will rank with queries such as “doctors in my area”, and thus be able to call you with questions or an appointment.
See The Smart Network page to discover which directories your medical practice should be listed on.
Tip 2: Make sure you rank for specialized keywords in your region.
Does your clinic specialize in a certain type of medicine? If so, you should rank on searches in your area for that particular specialization. For examples, dentists should run a Google Adwords campaign based on the most common dental related inquiries in their area.
Furthermore, make your Adword campaigns optimized for mobile searches. This is particularly important for your industry as mobile ads include a “call now” extension with your business phone number, allowing potential clients to reach you to book an appointment immediately.
You might also like… Digital Health Check! How Strong Are Your Local Listings?
Tip 3: Manage your reputation.
Online reviews have become an immense factor in the decision making process of your potential clients. A study completed by the Journal of the American Medical Association said well over half of respondents considered physician rating sites to be important, while a third of respondents said reviews impacted their decision on a physician. Some may argue the validity of reviews in the healthcare system, but the fact is that they’re not going anywhere, so having a strategy put in place is integral.
Online reviews can provide your health care practice with valuable feedback that you may not have received in-office. However, many recommend that it’s not ideal to respond to your reviewers directly; the CMPA 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 the reviews that are coming in and having an ear to the feedback is a best practice for turning the opinions of your clients into positive change. Having your listing present on review sites shows you are fostering an open dialogue between your practice and your clients, and provides an open forum for feedback delivery and reception.