5 Best Strategies to Market Your Telemedicine ServicesPosted on
It seems that telehealth telemedicine services are suffering from a provider adoption problem. Despite the fact that nearly 80% of all patients say they are interested in trying telehealth, physician adoption of telemedicine services is, so far at least, extremely low. In fact, current physician adoption rates range from about 10% in small practices to about 30% in ambulatory networks consisting of 40 or more doctors.
In 2018, we saw an unprecedented leap forward in user adoption of telemedicine, as more consumers realized that they don’t need in-person interactions for many routine office visits and non-emergency consults. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine has been used to keep patients and healthcare providers safer, especially for patients with compromised immune systems, disabilities that make travel difficult, or highly contagious diseases.
Yet doctors continue to lag well behind consumer demand for telehealth. Their adoption reluctance may be due in part to their difficulty adapting to a virtual office visit model. Doctors are accustomed to seeing patients in their offices. For those who lack the knowledge about how to market telemedicine services to their patients, here are five best practices and strategies for telehealth marketing.
1. Healthcare Marketing for Telemedicine
The successful launch of any new health-related product line requires marketing strategies. When you actively market telemedicine to your patients, you can reach an audience that is predisposed to the idea of virtual health visits. You can give your patients exactly what they want at a time when they want or need it most.
Consumerism is rapidly gaining a stronghold in the healthcare marketplace. Patients are seeking increased control over their healthcare decisions, treatments, and choice of providers. Telemedicine brings healthcare directly to consumers by engaging them in virtual house calls using their computers, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. Healthcare practices that offer telehealth would greatly benefit by fully marketing the service to those patients who want and need it. The first step in marketing your telemedicine service is defining your target audience, those patients who will most likely use your telemedicine service line. Ask yourself:
- Which patients would benefit most from your telehealth telemedicine services?
- How far do they live from your practice location? How far do they have to travel to see you?
- Which patients only see you for routine consults, to get answers to specific health questions, or for prescription refills?
- Could you add more patients by improving their access to your providers with telehealth?
2. Targeting Your Healthcare Marketing Strategies
The benefits of telemedicine are going to be very different for different patients. Try identifying your target audience. Do they live or work within a certain zip code? How old are they? What specific health needs could be addressed effectively in a virtual house call? Are these patients primarily private pay or insurance based? What would motivate them to use your service?
Remember that adding appointment time flexibility and reducing total appointment times by eliminating the patient’s commute and waiting time in your office are telemedicine’s main benefits. Think about how these benefits make your patients’ lives better.
A large part of targeting your telemedicine service line is understanding the needs, wants, and priorities of your patients, then marketing your telehealth service to meet those demands. Understanding your target audience and targeting your marketing effort toward attracting those patients is a crucial step toward launching your service line.
3. Positioning Your Practice as a Telehealth Provider
Consider your competitors. Could offering telehealth services differentiate you and elevate your practice above other independent providers in your area who don’t offer virtual health visits? Make sure you understand that telehealth offers several benefits for your practice and your patients, including:
- Patient convenience
- Reduced office costs
- Reduced wait times for patients
- Fewer patients in your office waiting to be seen
- Reduced patient costs by eliminating their travel time, childcare, time off work, parking, etc.
Position your telehealth service in a way that capitalizes on these benefits. Doing a better job addressing patients’ needs will surely set you apart from many competing practices. The key to accomplishing that is through your marketing messaging.
4. Messaging Your Patients About Your Telehealth Services
One of the most effective ways to message your patients and potential new patients about your telehealth service is to create what’s known as a landing page on your practice website. All your telemedicine content should be included on one easy-to-find landing page on your website. You can then link to your telehealth landing page from your marketing campaigns, emails, banner ads, blogs, and pop-ups—creating continuity and a better experience for your patients.
Your messaging should explain how telemedicine allows patients stay in the comfort of their homes while receiving the care they need. Consider creating a list of common questions that your patients and potential patients may ask regarding telehealth:
- Will the cost differ from traditional visits?
- Does insurance cover telemedicine?
- Do Medicare and Medicaid cover telemedicine?
- How can a doctor know what’s going on with a virtual visit?
- What quality of care will a telehealth patient receive?
- What types of healthcare visits can telehealth provide?
- How does telehealth complement in-person care?
Remember that today’s patients/consumers are increasingly scrutinizing health practices through the same microscope they use for other service-related industries. Thanks to the consumerization of healthcare, medical practices and hospitals must now market themselves like any other business. The basic goal of your marketing messaging is to provide an answer to this question: Why should your patients choose your practice over any other option that’s available to them in your market?
5. Marketing Your Telemedicine Service
Once you have settled on your telemedicine service and nailed down your target audience and messaging, it’s time for product promotion. Where and how will you market this service? If you develop marketing materials like those typically included in healthcare marketing plans, things like brochures, flyers, postcard mailers, and other collateral materials, then be sure to write them for the consumer. Speak directly and clearly to their needs and wants by sharing the benefits of your services in a casual, conversational language style that appeals to patients.
After your materials have been created, your final step will be distribution. There are many ways you can effectively distribute your promotional materials. For example, you can:
- Email details of your service to your patients
- Send a postcard mailer to patients
- Place telehealth messaging in your patients’ informed consent/new patient packets
- Add telehealth messages to your billing statements
- Include a telemedicine landing page on your website
- Include patient telehealth testimonials on your website and in collateral materials
- Place telehealth service announcements in your reception area
- Market your service on social media
Telemedicine can help you use your time more efficiently so you can help more patients. It gives you extra time to connect with your patients while adding continuity of care between providers. Realize that doing all of the above well will take time and resources, which you may not have. That’s why more and more practices are not only including telehealth in their healthcare marketing plans they’re turning to a healthcare marketing agency for help.
Telemedicine is here to stay — let’s make sure you take full advantage of it.