A smart, professional, and reputable online footprint is important for healthcare practices to stay afloat in 2022. Patients and providers are moving to more digital experiences, from creating appointments, retaining patients, and even having streamlined business operations.
Healthcare providers’ priorities need to be focused on digital ease and convenience. When a patient searches for medical services online, they expect to have choices – and judge a provider based on the level of transparency and accuracy. Certain aspects of your business are critical to growth in 2022 and years to come.
Checklist for Success
1. Maintain an Accurate Online Reputation.
Online reviews are trusted more than word-of-mouth referrals. 88% of people in 2021 trusted online reviews as much as – if not more – than referrals from friends and family. However, only 33% of businesses are actively acquiring online reviews. This is the first step in driving patients to your business. Especially in healthcare, 69% of patients claim they won’t see a provider with an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars.
Investing time and resources into acquiring online reviews is worth your healthcare practice’s online reputation and growth. Here are a few ways to gather high-quality online reviews:
- Claim your online local listings – this includes Google Business Profiles (previously Google My Business), WebMD, and Healthgrades. Keep these listings updated with hours, pictures, and services you offer.
- Teach and train your front office staff to gather online reviews and ratings from patients as they book additional appointments or when they follow up from an existing appointment. This is effectively done through email or text message follow-ups.
- Proactively maintain your online reputation. Reply to reviews, both good and bad, to keep your messaging consistent and mindfulness at the forefront of your business. Monitor daily activity to keep track of reviews, comments, and regular feedback.
2. Make Your Website the Hub of all Online Business
Your website is a wonderful tool. It is the foundation of your online presence but can also serve as the hub of your entire business. It gives patients convenient access to digital records at the touch of a button, schedule appointments when it suits their needs, and converts potential patients into loyal patients while your employees are off the clock.
This all begins with a well-designed, optimized website that is user-friendly and easy to find online. A website that is intuitive to your patients’ needs and answers questions quickly and effectively is one that will do well on search engines. When a website is built with search engine optimization (SEO), the benefits are endless. When your web page content is relevant, educational, and provides patients with the information they are searching for, search engines will reward you by ranking your practice’s website higher in their search results. A comprehensive marketing plan that includes SEO will drive more traffic to your website and increase new patient acquisition – and your overall ROI.
Your website should also serve as a tool for business needs – such as paying online bills, chatting with online support 24-hours a day, or even providing educational tools that your patients may need. Here’s how to create a website with these 2022 strategies in mind:
- Keep your website modern and professional. Use high-quality images and graphics that portray your practice in a professional manner, including exterior and interior images of your office. Incorporate testimonials to gain the trust of patients, and stay up-to-date by publishing blog content that answers the questions people are searching for.
- Optimize your website. This means both on-page and technical SEO should be in place. Have clear, descriptive titles on each page with meta descriptions that include vital keywords. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly and adjusts to any browser size. Increase page load speed to reduce the number of people who leave your site.
- Create clear, visual Call-to-Actions. Have it readily accessible for people to get in touch with your practice. Include CTAs at the top of your homepage, and offer online scheduling. Enable click-to-call phone numbers on your site to make it easy to get in touch with the practice, and offer patients the ability to chat via online or text.
3. Track Performance Metrics
After all, what good is a strategy if you aren’t going to assess it? Looking at your strategy and seeing what is performing well and where your efforts have failed are critical to keeping a handle on any situation, and understanding your online performance. Healthcare practices can determine what is working and what is not by keeping track of key metrics and indicators of success. Set goals and track performance metrics to polish your marketing plan.
- Establish KPIs (key performance indicators) like number of new appointments booked, new patient visits, how many reviews were captured, and where your website traffic is coming from.
- Create goals that are reasonable and achievable by month, quarter, and even years. Staying on track is crucial for growth.
- Monitor and measure your goals and KPIs regularly to stay on course and see where additional efforts are needed.
4. Incorporate Your Front Desk Staff
By using technology to replace menial, manual administrative tasks, you’ll allow your front desk staff to be more engaged with patients. The best way to get your staff involved in your practice is to have them reallocate their time and priorities. Your front desk staff is likely the first and last people patients see at an office visit. It’s important to utilize them to the best of your abilities. This means giving them the tools and resources they need to help capture positive reviews and build relationships with patients.
Streamlining this process can help your front desk staff feel more equipped for gathering reviews, connecting with patients, and feeling less burnout at the overwhelming amount of tasks they have to do. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Automated appointment reminders. When a front desk receptionist doesn’t have to manually make appointment reminder phone calls each day, they have a lot of time to do other tasks that can help grow your practice. This can be done via text or email.
- Have digital online forms. Sending paperwork electronically saves time in office and for the patients during their visit. It also prepares your staff to have the patient’s file ready and prepared for the physician prior to the patient’s appointment.
- Train Your Staff. The more you educate your front desk staff on your marketing strategy and your long term goals, the more effective they will be. GIve your staff the right tools they need to gather patient reviews before the patient even leaves the office. This can be done easily by having a QR code set up in the office or sending immediate text messages to patients with a review link.
- Online Payments. With your website as the hub of all your business, it would only make sense to have online payments available. This would eliminate the need for your staff to get payments manually from each patient and streamline their duties. Online statements and paperless billing are becoming the way of the world for a reason.
A lot of the changes healthcare providers and their practices are facing are due to the lasting effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Practices have to shift their focus to more digital and web-based goals to accommodate patients’ needs and desire to have things available on their smartphones.
Gathering reviews should be at the top of your checklist as you plan a marketing strategy for 2022 and beyond. To streamline this process, connect with the team at Valet Health. Their team creates review-capture forms and monitors your online profiles to ensure you get quality reviews to boost your online reputation. Contact Valet Health today to get started.