Change is constant in the medical field. New technologies and treatments are endless, and patient expectations are constantly evolving.
Similar to using an app on a mobile device to customize food orders and receive notifications about its arrival, patients want more personalized care and involvement in their healthcare journey. It’s time for medical practices to focus on the quality of care over the number of patients because satisfied patients will return, most likely leave reviews and recommend you to their peers.
Your strategy for 2023 should focus on meeting new patient expectations and delivering the digital experience patients prefer. By satisfying patient demands and using tactics proven to attract and keep patients, you’ll position your practice for growth and success over the next year.
Use this list to guide you and ensure you position your medical practice for success and growth.
1. Develop a powerful web presence
With three of four patients searching online for care options, it’s extremely important to rank well in search results and convey an exceptional first impression. Take advantage of every potential outlet to bring your brand, personality, services, and difference to an online audience.
Across websites, like Google and Yelp, patients find information about you and your practice. If you don’t claim those profiles as your own, you risk prospective patients encountering unverified, inaccurate business information. You also won’t have the opportunity to add photos, discuss your services, or even confirm business hours.
This inspires little patient confidence, and inconsistent or incorrect information can hurt your placement in search results.
To build your web presence, claim your profile across every review website, business, and healthcare directory. Google is the world’s largest search engine, with almost a 90% market share. An optimized Google Business Profile is the best way to ensure you show up for most internet users seeking what your business offers. Go to google.com/business to start building out your profile.
An optimized Google Business Profile give you better search visibility by patients located near you. Ensure your profile has the correct information, plus original photos and positive reviews.
Start to populate your profile with clear, consistent business information. At a minimum, provide what’s known as NAP: name, address, and phone number. Then add information about your practice and services, photos, and links to your website and online booking tool.
2. Optimize your practice website for patients and search engines
An optimized practice website can attract more visitors, impress patients, and inspire more appointment bookings. Check to see how your website stacks up against competitors using this free scanner from PatientPop. a Tebra company.
Organize your website hierarchy and content so search engines can find your web pages
With more than 60% of patients looking online for care with some regularity, your website is crucial to ensuring you sre discovered by the right people.
To begin positioning your site for search success, create an individual, content-rich web page for each service you offer. Use each page to answer common patient questions about that service, including relevant medical conditions, symptoms, remedies, and your overall approach to care.
This process — known as siloing — organizes your website content into distinct categories. With each service page focused on specific content and keywords, your site notifies search engines that the page may be an authority on the subject, boosting your search engine optimization (SEO). If you mix up too much unrelated information on one page, your SEO won’t perform as well.
Focusing on particular care services also helps establish your medical expertise and informs prospective patients about something they may have interest in or will need in the future. Even if a patient is not yet ready for an appointment, you and your practice can stay top-of-mind.
Create a design that looks and works great on every device
Your website design significantly impacts whether visitors stick around — and deciding to stay or leave happens within seconds.
Develop your website with a responsive design, so it will comfortably adjust to any browser size. This way, users can easily see and use your site on mobile devices, tablets, and desktop computers. A responsive design ensures a positive experience for every visitor to your website.
Consider the aesthetic value of your site, too. Keep the homepage organized so patients can focus on and find key information. Feature high-resolution photos of you, your providers and staff, your practice, and even community events.
Create calls-to-action (CTAs) that prompt appointment bookings
The ultimate business goal for your website is conversion — getting site visitors to request or book an appointment and become patients. This requires placing prominent calls-to-action (CTAs) strategically across your website.
To maximize scheduling opportunities, each call-to-action should encourage a site visitor to book an online appointment with a single click or tap. Another option to consider is featuring one-tap calling for patients to call your practice directly from their mobile devices. For either action, convenience is key.
Give prospective patients the power to book an appointment or speak with your staff without having to take additional actions beyond your website.
To improve your conversion opportunities, make sure at least one CTA is “sticky” — meaning it’s always visible as a visitor scrolls and navigates your website.
3. Ensure a streamlined digital patient experience
With the ongoing dominance of e-commerce and online shopping, people now expect to find and assess their healthcare options online and take action from their laptops or mobile devices.
In 2023, your practice must be able to deliver on that expectation more than ever. It’s imperative to deliver an efficient experience that brings convenience to patients and benefits your front office. At a minimum, you’ll need two fundamental capabilities: online appointment booking and automated appointment confirmation and reminders.
Enable online appointment booking
63% of patients said they prefer digital access to request a medical appointment. Online booking is the key to increased booking. Let patients see your in-person and telehealth time slots online and request an appointment. Not only does this deliver patient convenience, but it also greatly reduces the time your office staff spends answering phones and responding to email requests.
Send appointment reminders
Every no-show at your practice equates to the potential for lost revenue and a gap in care.
Sending automated appointment reminders via text or email can help drop your no-show rate and keep you connected with patients.
When you use automated reminders for all patient appointments, you also eliminate the need for front-desk staff to spend hours managing manual phone lists. Instead, this way empowers your team to devote time to higher-value practice work while patients receive alerts about upcoming appointments.
4. Invest in paid search advertising
It usually takes time to see results from your organic SEO efforts. You can turn to paid search advertising if you want to expedite positive performance and increase your practice visibility in search results.
With paid search advertising, search engines allow businesses to bid for advertising space in search results. In Google results, these ads often appear above organic results and labeled “Ad.”
An example of ads appearing above organic results in a Google search.
These are referred to as pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-click (CPC) advertisements. As their names suggest, you pay each time a person clicks your featured link to arrive at your website. You can decide how much you’re willing to spend on each click, and set overall daily budgets.
5. Master online reputation in your market
Online reputation refers to any information patients find about your practice across various websites. Typically, and most often, online reputation refers to the quality, quantity, and frequency of patient reviews. In a 2021 survey, patients identified reviews from other patients as the most influential online resource when deciding on a healthcare provider.
Ask satisfied patients for feedback
Research shows 71% of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor, and 69%will only consider a physician with an average star rating of four or higher. Delivering on patient demand, and gathering reviews from satisfied patients, are critical to your patient acquisition strategy.
To obtain patient feedback, just ask. The most efficient option is to send each patient an automated patient satisfaction survey via email or text after their visit. Digital surveys often inspire patients to post testimonials to your website or submit reviews to other popular healthcare online resources.
Always reply to negative feedback
Asking patients for feedback is only half the equation. You must also respond to reviews, especially those from unsatisfied patients. Based on a 2020 survey of patients, when healthcare practices don’t respond to negative feedback, the rate of patient satisfaction drops 96%. It’s nearly impossible to gain the loyalty of any patient if you don’t respond to their concerns.
When you respond, do so directly within the forum on which the patient submitted their feedback. This lets prospective patients see your attention to current patients and your desire to remedy a less-than-satisfying experience.
Be prompt with your replies. Keep all responses short and professional. Stay HIPAA-compliant by refraining from sharing any protected health information (PHI), even if the patient shares some of their own medical history in a review. Tell the patient you hear their concerns and invite them to contact you directly for a conversation.
You may not be able to salvage every relationship with an unhappy patient, but prospective patients will see you’ve demonstrated professionalism and personal care when you address concerns.
Editor’s note: Are you struggling with how to respond to negative feedback? Check out this blog filled with tips and sample scripts to use.
6. Establish expertise with blog posts and social media content
Take additional opportunities to attract prospective patients by publishing content that can answer their medical questions. You’ll grow your reputation as a thought leader in your community while giving search engines more material to find and include in relevant search results.
Focus each blog post on a specific topic related to your specialty, and draw attention to services and conditions you most want to associate with your practice. To begin, create a list of possible topics and then decide on a schedule you can keep, with a minimum of 1 to 2 blog posts per month. Be sure to create an editorial calendar to match each blog post with a date you’ll publish it on your website.
Take a similar content approach to your social media channels because social media isn’t just for selfies and dinner plate pictures anymore. More doctors are on social media to help with patient acquisition, retention and to have more control over their online reputation.
Within your social media posts, share a link to each new blog post, keep patients informed about your services or care-related expertise and share content from other reputable medical sources. Like your blog strategy, keep an editorial schedule for your social media posts and publish consistently.
Overall, have fun with trends and topics related to your specialty. The goal isn’t to become “Insta-Famous” like Dr. Pimple Popper but to stay top-of-mind and to show prospective patients what it would be like to be in your care. As you expand your social media presence and solidify your role as an expert, patients are more likely to look to you for care.
7. Focus on digital interactions
Add convenient technologies
With a pile of administrative demands, managing a practice can be time-consuming and drudgery. But applying digital tools to your workflow can reduce manual tasks for office staff and meet patient preferences for more convenient interactions with your practice. Consider the following to improve productivity and patient satisfaction:
— Online patient registration and intake before the appointment to save time for your staff, reduce wait times for patients, and eliminate pens and clipboards
— Two-way text messaging with patients to deliver timely reminders and updates
— Online payments to make it easier for patients to pay their bill
— Email marketing campaigns to share medical and practice information, and increase patient recall and retention
These are in addition to more standard practice technologies you should use already, such as online scheduling and automated appointment reminders.
Patients prefer speaking with their healthcare provider using digital interactions. Use two-way text messaging with patients to deliver timely reminders and updates.
8. Apply a strategic approach to telehealth
Telehealth was extremely popular and useful during the COVID-19 pandemic and is here to stay. Although telehealth usage has leveled off, keeping virtual visits as part of your practice’s care delivery options can be valuable. Determine an updated telehealth strategy that works best for your specialty and helps serve your business goals.
In general, the following types of visits are best for telehealth:
— Follow-up care or ongoing care management
— Appointment types (or patients) with higher-than-usual no-show rates;
— Short 5-10 minute visits
— Appointments with patients whose health conditions make it safer to stay home or who have challenges getting to your office
Implementing telehealth as part of your regular operations can reduce no-shows, drive patient adherence, and even free up time in your physicians’ schedules.
Focus on 2023 practice growth with Tebra
Tebra is the market leader in practice growth, helping healthcare providers promote their practice, attract new patients, and retain them for life. Our all-in-one practice growth platform eases and enhances each touchpoint of the patient experience, from the moment a patient finds you online to post-visit communications that drive advocacy and return visits.