Choosing the Right Channel for Patient Attribution

When measuring the Return On Investment (ROI) from digital growth programs, physicians should be evaluating data based on patient attribution. Monitoring and measuring the quantity of appointments made means you are working backwards from an event or campaign to determine what channel gets the credit. Essentially, attribution is a technical term for knowing which marketing tactics are bringing in the most patients and incremental revenue lift. 

Your practice may have no shortage of loyal patients, but unless you know where those patients are coming from, decisions for future campaigns and budget allocations will be unclear. An attribution model that allows you to see where your patients are coming from, and from which channel.

Creating attribution campaigns and tracking helps inform you on where in the patient’s journey they converted. A typical patient journey looks something like this: 

Organic search

Doctor website


Health plan


Tracking this journey determines what step was responsible for the patient making an appointment – whether it was from a call-to-action (CTA) on your website or a Facebook ad campaign. While all the steps in the patient journey assist in the conversion, there is always one step that accounts for the majority of the “heavy lifting.”

Using Google Analytics

Using a tool like Google Analytics to track attribution funnels and campaigns helps follow the patient’s journey and help you determine what channels are most important to your patient attribution success. 

Google Analytics provides two attribution models. The first is a “last click” attribution, which gives 100% credit to the last click in the model – or the last click made before an appointment has been made. A multi-channel attribution model provides more in-depth insight on ROI and has the ability to integrate with Google Ad campaigns. If your practice currently runs Google Ads, this is an effective way to track leads that convert without making a large change in your marketing tactics. 

Google Analytics can also be used to track UTMs (Urchin Tracking Models), which are trackable links that can be used on social media to help your practice track the source of visits for a specific URL in an attribution campaign. 

Google Analytics can help track leads and funnel those leads into proper pipelines that track where they are in the conversion process. Tracking leads helps determine where people convert, what ads they see, and what CTAs are most effective. Google provides an additional layer of insight visibility through Custom Dimensions which allows leads to be segmented into specific types of journeys. The Google User Explorer is used to examine user behavior during their sessions within a conversion funnel.

Social Media Tracking

People who are looking for a physician or specialist make digital contact with a practice approximately 6 times before booking an appointment. Using trackable links helps provide insight on what social media channels are effective and where people are in the conversion funnel. 

Facebook conversion ad measurements can be set up to understand what ads are driving traffic and converting to patient appointments. This tracks conversions across a variety of devices – mobile or desktop – and assigns credit based on incremental data-driven statistics

Premium Profiles

For physicians, utilizing premium profiles on a healthcare-specific platform such as WebMD can help drive patient attribution at more effective rates than even social media. In fact, 83% of patients report visiting a physician’s profile and reading online reviews before making an appointment. Premium profiles have undergone recent advancements which allow appointment request buttons and call tracking capabilities. This makes it easier to track a patient’s journey and where they are in the conversion process. 

Learn How an Appointment is Made

Tracking patient attribution through the conversion funnel, using leads and an effective patient journey mapping tool. For most practices, their patient-facing administration and front desk staff are at the forefront of in-office conversions. A call tracking number might be the last click in an active campaign, depending on the attribution model and advertisements being created.

Have your front office staff trained on what ads are being created and currently running for patient attribution helps them be aware of where leads are coming from and how they can assist in creating high conversion rates. A simple training example follows these three steps: 

  1. Educate the front desk team on what ads are being ran and on which platforms
  2. Give them the necessary tools to contact leads as soon as they enter the pipeline to schedule an appointment
  3. Track those leads and conversions on a spreadsheet or third-party software. Follow the patient journey and learn if a lead has successfully converted

The goal is to convert as many leads as possible into appointments. Give your staff the tools and information they need to be successful in their efforts. This will result in a higher number of new patients.

A key factor in this strategy includes your front desk staff, who act as your clinic ambassadors. Frequently, they are the first person a new patient will speak with when making a new appointment. Have your staff well-trained to track leads and convert leads into patients is of the utmost importance. This is even more so critial as clinics turn to telemedicine and do not require in-office contact with their patients. 

Measuring and monitoring patient attribution, effective marketing campaigns, and patient ROI through utilization of Google Analytics or another third-party database creates a systematic way to follow a patient’s journey and have a higher patient attribution rate.