With information available at our fingertips, it should come as no surprise that our phones have evolved into a symptom-checker and the place to evaluate a doctor’s reputation or schedule an appointment. One in every 20 Google searches is health related, 57% of consumers go online first to research a specific health condition, and 72% of patients check provider reviews before booking appointments.
This behavior is an extension of what Google’s content marketing team, Think with Google, describes as micro-moments, which “have been accelerating consumer expectations for right here, right now experiences.”
Our mobile-dependent culture has led healthcare patients to demand the same convenience, availability, and instant access they receive from retail providers. Are healthcare marketers ready to take advantage of these micro-moments? Here are five ways to move the patient’s journey forward with digital healthcare marketing.
1. SEO-Optimize For Local
Patients search locally for healthcare providers, so it’s important to land on the first page of search results. This first position of Google search results brings a 33% clickthrough rate. To move up, or stay, on the first page of search, your site must include regularly updated content that is driven by your patient’s needs. Search engines rank content by how well it matches their questions, so you must build a robust content arsenal around specific symptoms people search for within your specialty, with a strong base of appropriate keywords. Use the same keywords used by your patients and explore new keywords with search tools, such as Google Trends, to target the most popular healthcare words used in your region.
While providing location-specific health-related content on your website and on social platforms is essential, the most pivotal spot for ensuring you are optimized for local is through your Google My Business page listing. If you haven’t claimed your business, do so now. Ensure your category, description, phone number and website are accurate. Boost your presence by answering, in advance, the questions searchers want to know. For example, do you provide free parking? Where? What insurance plans do you accept? Are you taking new patients?
2. Build Credibility with Video
While it’s important to give prospective patients a variety of content paths to reach you with blog posts, email, newsletters infographics, and E-books, video’s power to educate is unparalleled. YouTube is on its way of becoming the most visited internet site, giving you one more opportunity to meet prospective patients where they already are. Healthcare facilities and physicians can use video to create:
● Physician profile videos: Build trust and a welcoming bedside manner with a physician or practice video that highlights specialties and accomplishments. Give prospective patients a reason to choose you by highlighting your experience, credentials, and commitment to quality care.
● Patient review videos: Testimonials and reviews, covered more below, help build credibility and provide additional search-optimized content.
● Procedure and treatment overviews: Health-related concerns can often be high-anxiety moments. Break down complex procedures, and patient pre and out-patient instructions, into informative short video demonstrations.
● FAQ: Give patients answers to the questions they want to know.
3. Optimize For Voice
Consumer’s growing comfort with personal assistants and voice-assisted search should be reflected in your content. Match your content around natural language searches to increase the likelihood of bots finding and reading your content back to the patient.
4. Proactively Respond to Negative Reviews
In 2018, nearly 72 percent of patients used online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor, and 42% of patients viewing health information on social media are exploring health-related consumer reviews. Google believes reviews are so important that stars are placed alongside each physician in search results. While the validity of many of these online review sites may not always accurately reflect your competency, online reviews give patients the social proof they’re looking for to make decisions faster. Check your own reviews on Google, Yelp, HealthGrades, Vitals, and ZocDoc social media.
More importantly, develop a strategy to consistently cultivate positive reviews on your website and social media channels by asking for them from patients. Consistently updating your website with customer reviews ensures a steady flow of new, unique content, which boosts your chances of landing on page one of search. Leveraging your patient experiences through testimonials provides valuable information for patients looking for similar issues while giving search engines the same natural language keywords patients are using to search.
5. Tap To Schedule
An Accenture survey shows 77 percent of patients place a high priority on the ability to book, change or cancel appointments online. Ensure your patient portal not only includes the ability to book an appointment, but also the ability for patients to access their own private health information and to pay bills electronically. With society’s priority for mobile, consider giving patients access to your practice with a progressive web app, optimized for mobile and tablets. To help patients remember appointment times and reduce no-shows, offer a text messaging app for appointment reminders.
Digital access to healthcare research, provider reviews, and treatment options have created a new generation of empowered consumers. They are much more selective about their choice of providers, treatment options, and more likely to take a proactive role in their care. As a provider, your overriding goal has always been to improve the continuum of care for your patients. The key today is recognizing that the patient journey no longer begins with that first office visit, but rather with a search on a mobile device. Do you have the digital resources in place that consumers are searching for so that they will book that first appointment with you?