An Introduction

What Is Healthcare Marketing?

If you are running a healthcare facility, you are no longer just a medical provider – you are also a businessperson. And every business needs to be promoted in order to find more customers and improve its brand image in the marketplace. In short, promoting and marketing your healthcare facility is a fundamental part of your healthcare marketing plan.

You may have a great patient base and experienced staff and offer excellent services, but if you want to grow your practice, you need to build an effective marketing strategy. This means putting some serious thought into who your target audience is, how you plan to improve your bottom line and how you can attract more patients and retain existing ones.

A clear focus on your target audience will help you tailor your services and implement marketing strategies accordingly. It is critical to take a step back from day-to-day activities and apply an entrepreneurial mindset. By thinking like a business owner, you can assess what you are good at, what your patients need and what your competitors are offering.

Fundamentals of Healthcare Marketing

Every medical practice owner understands the importance of a marketing strategy, but not every owner has the time or resources to build and implement an effective strategy. So, what are the fundamentals of building a winning healthcare marketing strategy?

Website: Your website is the first impression potential patients are going to have of your practice. Most of your digital marketing efforts will also point toward your website. The most effective way to generate a steady stream of patients is to build a professional website that has relevant content, is optimized for search engine optimization (SEO) and is mobile-friendly. Your website should reflect the personality of your medical practice.

Social networks: Social networks offer a host of advantages for medical practitioners because they allow potential patients to get to know you before seeing you in the exam room. In addition, social networks make great public forums for sharing health-related information and special events. As a healthcare provider, you can use social networks to ask insightful questions about your services, staff and procedures.

Blogging: If done right, blogging can take your healthcare marketing strategy to the next level. If you blog twice or three times a week, not only does Google rank you higher than competitors, but other relevant websites will publish snippets of your content and give you attribution. When you consistently write useful blog posts, it enhances your credibility and builds trust between you and patients.

Referrals: Most practices need a referral base in order to thrive. Getting a new patient referral from another doctor requires relationship building. The first step is to identify which doctors will recommend your practice to their patients. You then have to plan a strategy to build and maintain relationships with those doctors. Attend conferences and meetings to seek networking opportunities. You can also ask your existing patients to refer their friends and family to your practice.

Search engine optimization (SEO): SEO is all about searching specific keywords for your healthcare practice. To choose the most relevant keywords, you will need to get into the minds of your patients. The more relevant keywords you pick, the more patients you will attract. Other than keywords, a factor that can affect SEO is your website’s speed. A website that loads quickly can boost your SEO efforts, whereas a website that takes a longer time will fail to engage visitors. In addition, good-quality content should be at the core of your SEO strategy.

Patient review sites: According to a survey by Software Advice, more than 77 percent of patients use online reviews as the first approach to finding a healthcare practice. The survey also revealed that almost 47 percent of patients would go out-of-network for a doctor who has positive reviews. These review sites can open the door for you to grow your practice and engage with your patients. Your practice will have a better chance of serving your patients well if you can use the power of online reviews for marketing your healthcare practice.

Online local directories: With the majority of patients using search engines to find local healthcare facilities, being listed in local directories is critical for the growth of your practice. These directories can improve the visibility of your practice and take it to the next level. While some of these local directories are specific to the medical community, other directories such as Google+ Local and Yahoo! Local are not industry-specific.

Email marketing: Collecting your patients’ e-mail addresses is critical to a successful marketing campaign. This is one of the best ways to remind patients of their upcoming appointments. You can schedule follow-up emails for three to five months after each appointment to ensure your patients do not miss their annual checkups. Through emails and newsletters, you can also update existing patients with healthcare tips, seasonal offers and discounts and updates about your practice.

Benefits of Healthcare Marketing

Healthcare marketing educates patients.

It has become critical for healthcare facilities to market their services in order to attract more patients, retain existing ones, increase the bottom line and improve their brand image.

Healthcare is an ever-evolving industry and it crucial for healthcare marketers to keep up with the changes. Healthcare marketing is important for a number of reasons, but it must be done correctly for existing as well as potential patients to trust it. How well your services are promoted is a direct reflection of how well you know your job. It is important to know your target audience because healthcare marketing strategies vary depending on the specialty, location and target audience.

Healthcare marketing allows your practice to thrive, but initially your target audience needs to know why your practice is better compared to the hundreds of other practices in their area. For this, you need to have an effective healthcare marketing strategy. Creating a healthcare marketing strategy specific to your needs will not only highlight the effectiveness of your services but will also position you as a provider who is trained to help patients.

Healthcare marketers who engage in blogging and answering online queries posted by searchers provide the valuable insights people are looking for to make informed decisions. When patients are informed, they have realistic expectations, which lead to better outcomes and higher satisfaction rates.

When implemented well, healthcare marketing can strengthen relationships with patients and present your practice in a more positive light. The most effective way to boost your patient base is by building stronger relationships with your existing patients and addressing any issues they may be having.

Key Challenges and Ways to Address Them

There are many challenges to maintaining a warm yet authoritative tone in healthcare marketing. However, with a thoughtful approach, it can be very rewarding. You must aim to be successful, not through selling services but through building trust and becoming a go-to resource for your target audience. A patient faced with a health problem is looking for the best and most cost-effective healthcare facility, and as a healthcare marketer, you have the option to connect with him or her and offer your unique services.

It is important to have an effective marketing strategy in place to grow your practice, attract new patients, retain existing ones, maintain relationships with referrers and retain staff. And all this while running an efficient and profitable practice.

Despite the fact that there are more ways than ever to market your practice and reach your target audience, healthcare marketers face a number of challenges:

Lack of investment: According to a report by Deloitte Consulting, healthcare marketers spent merely $1.4bn on digital marketing, a figure that lags marketers in other industries. The biggest consequence of this underinvestment is that it has created opportunities for third-party sites to become the go-to resources for potential patients looking for healthcare information online.

Lack of metrics to measure performance: While measuring the impact of marketing activities is top-of-mind for most marketers, it has not been as critical in healthcare because of the perceived role of marketing in healthcare facilities. This perception is changing, and many healthcare marketers are implementing growth and brand-related metrics.

Unstructured market: Healthcare is not like a typical, structured market. In the US, not many patients pay directly to healthcare providers for care and drugs; instead, third parties like insurers pay the bills and control the market. For healthcare marketers, this arrangement and market structure are the biggest challenges because even if you persuade a potential patient that your practice provides the best-quality care, the prospect might not be able to access your service.

From strict HIPAA regulations to a lack of marketing budget, healthcare marketers deal with limitations every single day. While the healthcare industry is becoming open to the latest digital marketing strategies and tricks, marketers still have a long way to go before they can gain flexibility for the most effective healthcare marketing.

Chapter 1
Digital Marketing
Chapter 1 – Digital Marketing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) A steady stream of new patients is the lifeblood of any healthcare practice. However, medical practices looking to acquire new patients in a crowded marketplace can face a lot of challenges. With thousands of healthcare practitioners operating in the US, finding a way to separate ...
Chapter 2 – Practice Growth Marketing Plan A healthcare marketing plan can help you define and identify the target audience and key prospects. It can also assist in evaluating and comparing your practice data against your industry. A marketing plan is necessary, so does your practice have one? Here are some more benefits of creating a growth p...
Chapter 3 – Staff/Doctor Training Professional Referral Outreach Developing a strong referral network is critical to ensuring the success of your healthcare practice. In order to grow your practice’s revenue, it is important to attract new patients consistently. In addition to advertising and connecting with insurance agencies, establishing...