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August 2012

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August 2012

August 2012

How to Take a Leadership Position Online

Today’s healthcare practice has been besieged by monumental changes in America’s economic landscape, and now, by sweeping healthcare reforms in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Despite the uncertainties of managing a healthcare practice in this new world of change, you can take steps to ensure that your practice remains healthy and viable no matter what the future brings.

Use SEO and PPC to Deliver Results
A critical step to grabbing a leadership position is search engine optimization, or SEO. Your site should be properly optimized to appear high up (preferably the first page or two) in search engine results to generate traffic. When your website is found, it will be read. When readers find it interesting enough, they will share it. That’s why it’s important to have sharing capabilities on your website. Sharing capabilities should include email-to-a-friend, FaceBook® and Twitter®.

The two main conduits to your website from various search engines are organic SEO and Pay-Per-Click (PPC). If you are investing in a website, you owe it to yourself to ensure your Return on Investment through one or both of these conduits. SEO catalogs your web pages so that your site will appear high on the search engine results page (SERP) every time a prospective patient makes a query. Search engines like Google®, Yahoo!®, Bing™ or MSN®, index billions of web pages every day to return relevant data to their search patrons. Your website could have structural “walls” and “bumps” you’re unaware of that prevent search engines from finding it at all.

Keep in mind that only 8 percent of search engine users review more than the first three SERPs prior to clicking on a result. Don’t get buried too deep or remain invisible on the web. Get professional help to make your Internet presence known. When your website is optimized, your practice will benefit from a level of web presence that can generate a steady stream of new patients.

For maximum visibility, make your practice accessible from all points of the search engine – whether from the natural search results list or from Google’s sponsored links. When a potential patient types in a keyword related to your practice, your practice ad will appear right next to the returned list of search results. This will be quite visible as a standalone ad, or together with only one or two competitor links.

With PPC, you pay only when a user clicks your ad, not every time it is displayed. And you can customize your ad to reflect your practice/product branding. You decide how much you want to spend on your ad. You can apply your own fixed spending limit and keep costs to a minimum. You can ensure the effectiveness of your PPC ad further by choosing only certain adwords aimed at your preferred TA. You can also restrict your ad’s visibility to a five-, 10-, 25-mile (or more) radius of your practice location. This will narrow “click-throughs” to your specific market area. With PPC, you have control of when and where you will be visible, thereby yielding the best returns at the lowest costs.

Use Social Networking to Build Relationships and Referrals
The third and final step to achieving a leadership position online involves investing time into “social media.” Social media includes all the major social networking platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube®, LinkedIn™) that facilitate talking to your patients and prospects directly. Social media allows you to answer questions and build trust over time. For example, here are some “do’s” and “don’ts” for getting the most out of your Facebook network:

  • Plan what you want to achieve with a professional online presence (e.g. Facebook “fan” page). Start with clear objectives.
  • Consider adding corporate pictures or video to your professional account to help generate traffic.
  • Think twice about adding personal friends versus patients: If friends (non-patients) post a personal comment on your wall, would you want your patients to see it?
  • Remember that social media websites offer a space for you to engage in authentic dialogue. If you treat social media solely as a method for pushing your promotional messages, you will turn prospects off and waste your time.
  • Monitor what’s being said about your practice, and respond when necessary.
  • Don’t build a Facebook page for your medical practice without having a solid website first. It’s important to provide a link back to your main website on all of your social media profiles to build credibility and visibility.
  • Don’t respond to personal medical questions on Facebook.
  • Don’t, under any circumstances, post any identifying information about patients online.
  • Don’t “friend” your patients online. Instead, steer them to “like” you on a professional fan page.
  • Don’t expect to achieve results overnight.
  • Don’t get too personal in your updates.

Your Online Leadership Strategy: Easy as 1-2-3
Taking an online leadership position for your practice boils down to doing three things:

1) creating traffic through search engines, SEO, PPC and social media

2) turning that traffic into leads through calls to action on web pages and web forms and;

3) turning leads into patients by having trained staff handle phone calls and greet walk-in prospects. Better still, use the new myPracticeBuilder service to automate this process for your practice. Do each of the three steps to help your practice grown and prosper.

In the meantime, if you’d like to know more about taking an online leadership position, or if you need help getting your practice online, call Practice Builders at 800.679.1200 or email us at info@practicebuilders.com.

Shape and Protect Your Online Reputation

Thanks to the meteoric rise of social media and consumer review sites such as Yelp, HealthGrades and Vitals, it is increasingly important for healthcare practitioners to build and manage their online reputations. That’s because more and more patients are reviewing their own personal experiences with health practices online, and more patient prospects are reading those reviews before they make appointments.

Even one negative review can seriously impact your patient acquisition and retention efforts, especially if you only have a handful of online reviews. Your goal is to build a positive reputation for yourself and your practice. The big question is how. Basically, you have two ways to deal with online reputation management. The first includes all of the following steps:

Set Goals – Keep them simple in the beginning. What are the health issues and topics you care most about? How do you want to represent yourself and your practice online? What is your professional brand? Do you want to be an influencer in your community? Do you want to enhance your reputation with colleagues, speak at more conferences or contribute to more journals? Do you want more of certain types of patients or cases?

Create a Profile – You can create a simple public-facing personal profile in Google Profiles with very little effort. This profile will be the starting point for all online references to you, so think of it as your online curriculum vitae, but with more of a personal touch.

Start a Blog – Think of a blog as a personal website. Unlike a website, a blog is easy to set up and maintain yourself. You can create original content or you can simply post information you find elsewhere that may be useful for your target audience. Your content may be patient-oriented or peer-oriented around your areas of expertise. Posterous and Tumblr are two blog sites that are extremely easy to set up and manage. As of 2010, 70% of Internet users were reading blogs and more than 120,000 of those blogs were healthcare-related. Done correctly, blogs can provide your practice with an opportunity to share your expertise and knowledge with a much larger audience. Other blogging tips:

  • If you have a niche, focus on it. It will help differentiate your practice and attract your target audience.
  • Post entries that provide perspective and insight about your practice. Intersperse these with current news or events related to healthcare and your specialty. Blog about general health information, patient health tips, new procedures or anything related to your practice and specialty.
  • Post content that mixes professional and personal entries.
  • The AMA’s Social Media Policy recommends using privacy settings to safeguard personal information and content to the fullest extent possible. Remember that any harmful or inappropriate actions or messages online can negatively affect your reputation among patients and colleagues.
  • Stay HIPAA-compliant by not posting any patient-identifiable information on your practice blog. Maintain appropriate boundaries for your patient-provider relationship. When interacting with patients online, be sure that patient privacy and confidentiality are always respected and enforced.

Befriend Facebook – With over 950 million members, Facebook is the 800-pound gorilla of social media sites. Though it is used primarily for personal interactions and connections, Facebook can also benefit professional users. Hospitals and physicians can use it to reach patients and create user groups based around health-oriented issues and topics. Facebook helps you engage with your patient base, promote your practice and build your presence on the Internet. Readers can navigate your page to learn more about your subspecialty and access basic contact information for your practice. Your “fans” can read your educational posts, view pictures or videos of your practice or visit your blog or website. A Facebook fan page is viral marketing at its best. When someone “likes” your page, all of their connections will see it, too. This can direct even more traffic to your practice. Facebook offers incredible flexibility and many ways to connect with your target audience.

Get LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a great platform for keeping in touch with patients and colleagues, connecting with industry insiders and generating new leads and referrals for your practice. LinkedIn emphasizes knowledge and leadership, which allows you to separate yourself from your competition. LinkedIn lets you engage with a targeted network of people and showcase your knowledge within your field. You can also start a group with a group page or participate in LinkedIn Answers.

YouTube Showcase your expertise, share your knowledge and market your practice to existing and future patients with video. YouTube lets viewers watch videos about your practice. Your YouTube channel can help extend your brand by letting you customize your colors, look and feel to complement the look and feel of your practice’s website or marketing materials. You can add links to your practice website and relevant information to your channel. Your videos can serve many purposes but should generally give viewers a look at your practice with a level of personalization that cannot be matched by plain text or other forms of messaging. Web videos let you demonstrate your expertise and establish you as a credible source to your viewers.

Or Try Online Reputation Management Made Easy…

The first way, as outlined above, takes a lot of time-consuming effort on your part. A much better way and a much smarter option is for you to use myPracticeReputation, the new service from Practice Builders that automates practice reputation monitoring and enhancement for you. Using proprietary software developed specifically for healthcare providers, myPracticeReputation solicits and collects positive patient reviews and posts them on all major review sites for you.

myPracticeReputation also helps you resist the temptation to respond to a negative online review with an equally damaging, even HIPAA-violating online retort. One of our clients recently responded publicly to a negative review and stated that the patient/reviewer’s dental issues were exacerbated by her HERPES lesions! With myPracticeReputation, there is no need to respond publicly to negative online reviews or get yourself in trouble with HIPAA.

To learn more about the many ways we can help you protect and manage your reputation online, call Practice Builders at 800.679.1200 or email us at info@practicebuilders.com.

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