July 2013

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July 2013

Six Ways a Lack of Online Presence Can Hurt Your Practice

Establishing an online identity is critical for doctors, dentists and other health practitioners in private practice. Yet, when considering the business and marketing aspects of healthcare, this component is often overlooked or downplayed, which can jeopardize your practice and your livelihood. There are several reasons why it’s important to establish an online identity…

1 – Stand Out

Your ability to stand out as a medical or dental professional to prospective patients can be greatly enhanced by an online presence. Having an online presence does not merely mean having a comprehensive website or your name on top of a search engine ranking. A complete web presence offers you the ability to humanize yourself by offering potential patients ways to learn about your area of expertise, skills and services through social media and online profiles.

Medicine is very personal and people today want to learn more about a doctor, dentist or treatment before their first visit.  If you don’t have an online presence, patients are more likely to choose a medical or dental professional who does. A website is an excellent medium for promoting your experience, skills, services and achievements, making them known to your current and prospective patients. Even if your name appears high in a Google search, patients will probably pass you by in favor of medical and dental providers who have websites.

2 – Market More Effectively

In today’s world, healthcare decisions are often based on Google searches, Yelp reviews and recommendations, YouTube videos and connections on Facebook and LinkedIn. A recent survey reported that half of all Internet users look for healthcare providers and general health care information online.

The web has had an enormous influence on dental and medical marketing through expanding social networks and online profiles, which has made information far more easily and quickly accessible. Healthcare providers in virtually every specialty should use these resources to their advantage. Creating a user-friendly website and an online profile (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn) gives you the opportunity to define your practice and create an image that best represents your overall goals and mission. It also gives you the opportunity to interact with patients and potential new patients.

3 – Enhance Your Reputation

Healthcare consumers are becoming more and more influenced by online patient reviews. Patients who search online will gravitate toward providers who are well-reviewed and frequently referred to by other online resources. Health providers who have established an online identity through their websites will attract patients who are looking to learn more about their capabilities and services. Health providers with positive online patient reviews will build even stronger reputations through social media connections.

4 – Improve Your Office Efficiency

You might be surprised at how many of your office tasks can be streamlined and automated using online resources. Your website can help educate your patients and potential new patients who need information about treatment for a particular disorder or disease. A website provides you with a platform for timesaving services such as online appointment scheduling, downloadable office forms, follow-up reminders, post-visit thank-you notes and patient satisfaction surveys, all of which can save valuable time for your office personnel.

5 – Attract Your Preferred Patients

Having an online presence gives you the opportunity and ability to connect with the kinds of patients and case-types you really want to see in your practice. Your patients should be able to share their experiences through your website – offering constructive feedback as well as recommending your practice to more prospective new patients. Having a place for feedback on your website tells patients that you care about what they think. Not being online prevents you from seeing or responding to patient comments, complaints and concerns. Without an online presence, you have no truly effective way to identify, attract or engage the right patients.

6 – Capture Your Recommendations

Without an online presence, you won’t know when patients are singing your praises. Patients who have good experiences are more likely to recommend you to friends and acquaintances via social media. However, if patients can’t find you online, they typically won’t make the recommendation, even if they had a good experience. So you cannot simply ignore the intersection of healthcare and social media. You cannot ignore our own relevance as a healthcare practitioner with expertise to share with an audience who needs and wants good information.

To lack an online presence in 2013 is simply unacceptable, and you will lose patients and see your practice shrink because of it. It’s only a matter of time.

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