At a Glance
- Embrace change and focus on quality of care in the constantly evolving medical field
- Develop a powerful web presence to reach potential patients online and convey a positive first impression
- Streamline the digital patient experience with online appointment booking and automated appointment reminders to improve convenience and reduce administrative burden
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 2024 should focus on meeting new patient expectations and delivering the digital experience patients prefer. By satisfying patient demands and using proven tactics 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 3 of 4 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 your 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 the greatest number of internet users seeking what your business offers. Go to google.com/business to start building yours.
An optimized Google Business Profile gives you better search visibility for patients located near you. Ensure your profile has the correct information, 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.
Organize your website hierarchy and content so search engines can find you
Your website is crucial to ensuring that patients discover you.
To begin positioning your site for success, create an individual, content-rich page for every 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 disparate information on one page, your website 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 access your site on mobile devices, tablets, laptops, and desktops. 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 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 throughout 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. Streamline the 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 2024, your practice must be able to deliver on that expectation more than ever. It’s imperative to create an efficient experience that brings convenience to patients and benefits your front office. At a minimum, you’ll need 2 fundamental capabilities: online appointment booking and automated appointment confirmation and reminders.
Enable online appointment booking
Many patients prefer to send digital medical appointment requests. Online booking is the key to increased booking. Let patients see your in-person and telehealth time slots online and request an appointment. This not only delivers patient convenience, but also reduces the time your staff spend 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, you empower 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 are labeled “Ad.”
An example of ads 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 accordingly.
5. Master local online reputation
Online reputation refers to any information patients discover about your practice across various websites. Typically, and most often, online reputation refers to the quality, quantity, and frequency of patient reviews. Many patients won't select a healthcare provider without positive, recent reviews.
Ask satisfied patients for feedback
Many patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor. Of Gen Z, 62% won't even consider a provider with no online reviews. Delivering on patient demand, and gathering reviews from satisfied patients, is 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. When healthcare practices don’t respond to negative feedback, the patient satisfaction rate drops. It’s nearly impossible to build loyalty if you don’t respond to their concerns.
When you respond, do so directly in 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 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.
6. Establish expertise with blog 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 because social media isn’t just for selfies and dinner plate pictures anymore. More doctors are on social media to help with patient acquisition and 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 turn to you for care.
7. Focus on digital interactions with 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
— 2-way text messaging with patients to deliver timely reminders and updates
— Online payments to make it easier for patients to pay their bills
— Email marketing campaigns to share medical and practice information and to increase patient recall and retention
These are in addition to more standard practice technologies, such as online scheduling and automated appointment reminders.
Patients prefer to interact with their healthcare provider digitally. Use 2-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 acute phase of 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 serves 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 to 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.
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75% of people look online to find a doctor. Patients take a critical look at web presence, online business profiles, and reviews when they decide to pick a health provider. Learn where your practice should be online in the 2023 Patient Perspectives report.