The patient experience begins online, which should put digital marketing at the top of every healthcare organization’s priority list. As for the success of a well-prioritized healthcare marketing strategy? The devil is in the details. What organizations say and how they say it can have massive implications, which explains why so many healthcare marketers tread lightly. Unfortunately, this is not an arena that takes kindly to timid approaches. Only the bold and daring survive here. In marketing, as in life, physicians are just as vital to your marketing strategy as they are to your health.
Healthcare organizations are losing valuable opportunities to solidify patient relationships because of internet resources like WebMD and Healthline. Instead of calling the office, individuals check their symptoms against generalized online medical information and self-diagnose issues (Who needs a medical degree when you have Google?). They make serious decisions about their health without taking other factors into account, such as family history. To make matters worse, the internet is an endless sea of bad information and, sadly, most people don’t have the education to distinguish between fact or fiction.
According to the U.S. Department of Health, “9 out of 10 adults may lack the skills needed to manage their health and prevent disease.” In other words, we have a massive healthcare illiteracy crisis on our hands, and the unsung heroes are the brave men and women in healthcare marketing.
Because the patient experience begins online, taking the conversation offline is not an option. If healthcare providers want to strengthen and maintain relationships with current and potential patients, they need to throw their stethoscopes into the medical information ring. Healthcare marketing isn’t just about promoting services; it’s also about extending the boundaries of the patient journey, improving healthcare literacy, and encouraging safer, more informed decision-making.
Physicians have the training and expertise to discuss medical conditions thoroughly and accurately. They are also the most familiar with what patients are going through and what patients want and need from a healthcare provider. Subject matter expertise and a deep understanding of the target audience are the two most important factors driving your entire healthcare marketing strategy.
Uncertainty fuels hesitation. To ensure physicians don’t just buy into the marketing plan but also follow through with activities, build their confidence in your marketing team’s understanding of the healthcare marketing dos and don’ts.
Healthcare digital marketing DOs:
Healthcare digital marketing DON'Ts:
Before you can get physicians to commit to participating in marketing activities, they need to understand why healthcare marketing is so important and what the business benefits of their involvement will be. Align your discussion with their highest priorities: patient research, patient care and revenue. Doctors also thrive on factual information, so put the fluffy stuff aside and stick with the most recent statistics that directly relate to the focal points of your overall strategy. Tie each statistic to a distinct, measurable goal. For example:
Local SEO Strategy
|83% of patients come from within a 5-7 mile radius of your office location (Lyfe).||Using keywords and location-based targeted ads, we will [insert local SEO KPIs].|
|Website Updates||71% of patients don’t take action if your website lacks information (Lyfe). Websites are also rated the second-most frustrating customer service channel (DialogTech).||By implementing a content marketing strategy, updating forms and scheduling tools, and converting your website into a resource center for patients, we will [insert web performance KPIs].|
|Online Patient Reviews||94% of patients use online reviews to evaluate providers. (DialogTech). The vast majority of patients also name online reviews as the most influential decision-making factor when choosing a provider (PatientPop).||Our strategy will focus on Google Reviews (the most effective review site for healthcare providers) as well as sites such as Healthgrades.com. Using SMS text and email campaigns, we will increase customer reviews by [insert KPI].|
|Social Media Strategy||40% of consumers admit that information on social media influences how they deal with their health (referralmd).||Using Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms as a distribution channel for high-value content, we will [insert social media KPIs].|
Physicians are busy professionals. Let them know upfront what their core involvement should be and the time commitment your team is requesting. Plan a routine monthly timeline to illustrate how their involvement will be managed and stress the importance of consistent, timely collaboration. Their participation should center around:
As more of the patient journey takes place online, forward-thinking healthcare organizations are developing personalized digital healthcare centers that offer educational content, videos, patient communication channels and more. The goal is to develop safe, effective ways to provide patients with quality care outside the office, in-between visits.
To make this experience seamless, marketing teams must learn to integrate physicians into their healthcare marketing strategy, and physicians must get more comfortable being present online. For more tips to expand your healthcare marketing strategy, check out 6 Ways to Get More Mileage From Healthcare Digital Marketing Content.