The Intake

Insights for those starting, managing, and growing independent healthcare practices

15 healthcare marketing ideas for independent practices

Millennials have different expectations for their healthcare providers, and fine-tuning healthcare for Millennial-specific marketing strategies will help you reach, attract, and engage them.

a prospective patient illustrating healthcare for Millennials

At a Glance

  • To appeal to today’s market, prioritize a strong online presence, including an optimized website and online scheduling.
  • Create an active and responsive social media presence, with a focus on two-way conversation and cause marketing.
  • Build brand loyalty by reaching out to the community: support local causes, build partnerships with civic groups or host webinars and conferences.

Modern healthcare providers can’t hang up their shingle and expect to start scheduling patient visits right away. Medical school prepares you for a lot, but it doesn’t give you the knowledge, tools, and tips to implement digital marketing, content marketing, customer acquisition, or search engine optimization. And these are all keys to successfully growing independent healthcare practices.

The good news is that you don’t have to become an expert in such marketing efforts. There are marketing teams out there that specialize in the healthcare sector and can assist you in reaching your target audience. Based on our market research and experience in the healthcare environment, here are 15 ideas that will help you stand out in the marketplace.

Top healthcare marketing ideas

The first steps in implementing a healthcare marketing strategy are to have a marketing plan, a budget, and an idea of the brand you want to convey and the story you want to tell to potential patients.

The following ideas range from far-reaching (website optimization, digital advertising) to community involvement to personalized assistance. See which ones might work for you.

1. Optimize the online patient experience

This almost goes without saying: A fresh and appealing website that optimizes the user experience, provides multiple channels for contacting your office, and offers online scheduling is a must. Besides looking nice, the website needs to be well-written, engaging, accurate, and populated with valuable content that will enrich the patient journey. Include provider profiles, patient testimonials, and patient education content.

The website should include lots of photos (custom, not stock) with alt-text describing them. It should be mobile-first or at least mobile-friendly, load within 2 seconds, and comply with accessibility requirements (i.e. text and background colors).

There are lots of ins and outs here. For example, is the website structured so Google can easily crawl it? This step also involves using powerful search engine optimization (SEO) techniques that will help land your practice at the top of search results. You also want to find out what keywords prospective patients use when searching for healthcare solutions. Then use those keywords in your content.

2. Add a chatbot to your website

Thanks to artificial intelligence, chatbot algorithms can evaluate various patient data such as symptoms, available treatments, and more. They have this capability because of the public datasets used to train them. Various conversational chatbots have different intelligence levels, and some are HIPAA-compliant.

When every second counts, chatbots developed for healthcare technology rapidly deliver useful information. They also make healthcare information available to patients 24/7.

3. Invest in digital advertising

According to the Tebra Patient Perspectives Survey, 3 out of 4 patients “search online for doctors, dentists, or medical care often or sometimes.” Therefore, “advertising” can no longer be a dirty word in the healthcare ecosystem.

As an example, if an online user searches Google for “primary care doctor near me,” your effective, paid online advertising would populate their search results and pop up on their web pages. This significantly enhances your online visibility. Usually, you pay only when a user clicks on your ad.

4. Claim your online business directory listings

Some of the top search results will return a Google Business Profile. Google is so ubiquitous that many people make buying decisions based on what they find in a business listing. And Google makes it easy to claim the listing and manage it.

Customize your listing with photos. Highlight unique services and essential information (address, office hours, phone number, etc.) Post answers to frequently asked questions.

Best of all, discover what keywords people search to find you using Google’s data analytics to understand how your practice connects with current and potential patients.

If there are reviews, it’s vital that they are positive, recent, and numerous in order for them to encourage a person to book an appointment. A quick thank-you is even more positive. At the same time, don’t ignore bad reviews. They’re highly visible, so give a quick response — but not an excuse. It's important to manage your reputation online.

Remember that there are many other sites where you can claim business profiles, such as Yelp, Healthgrades, WebMD and RateMD.

5. Create content

Articles written by you or about you, as well as videos, will enhance credibility and reach. Provide timely advice (for example, as the seasons change), insights on illnesses you’re seeing (RSV, COVID), and announcements of new services or providers.

However, stay away from controversial topics, new research, and unproven medical products. And never promote anything for which you receive some form of compensation, unless you disclose it.

6. Forge social media partnerships

The content you create can not only live on your website, but also on social media, including such sites as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.If you’re just starting out with social media marketing, chances are you don’t have hundreds, let alone thousands, of viewers or followers. But you can develop partnerships with creators or influencers on social media to provide accurate and worthwhile healthcare information. This will help you connect with potential patients with humanity and empathy. They can help you with branding while disseminating accurate and valuable healthcare information.

Patient Perspectives Report

7. Support values-based causes

According to Sprout Social, 66% of people — especially Millennials — think it is important for brands to take public stands on social and political issues.

What social causes are important to those in your target audience? Is there a need for expanding healthcare services to underserved communities, raising money for healthcare innovation and research, treating the health effects of climate change? Jump on the bandwagon by supporting and creating content around these causes.

If there’s an event, such as a 5K or fundraiser, you could sign on as a sponsor, host an information table, and provide some free swag.

8. Develop a niche marketing strategy

To get started, select medical conditions where you believe you have unique insights and can make a real contribution. Consider whether you have a special empathy for a particular customer segment, such as young parents, middle-aged women, or persons of color. Then, visualize your ideal patient.

You can then build a marketing strategy around those target audiences by providing services and information. For example, African Americans are particularly vulnerable to hypertension, and young parents will want to know about immunizations and childhood illnesses. Consider these audiences in your content creation plans.

9. Partner with community organizations

There are respected organizations in your community whose goals may align with your own. It could be a church, a Boys and Girls Club, a YMCA, or a social support organization. Anytime you have the opportunity to partner with one of these organizations, consider it.

Nonprofits are an excellent gateway to new audiences. Reach out to see if you can work with them, and be receptive if they contact you. You’ll be creating yet another channel for good healthcare information — and being a good business citizen at the same time.

10. Devise a wellness challenge

Encourage your patients to improve their health by either starting your own wellness challenge or partnering with a community organization such as the YMCA. Encourage patients to share their progress on social media, tagging you and using a branded hashtag. You can even offer prizes, such as gift cards for massages.

11. Collect email addresses, then use them

User-friendly platforms can make it easy for healthcare organizations to stay in touch with their target audiences via email campaigns. It’s another way to disseminate accurate healthcare information, timely reminders, and the content you’re creating (see tip No. 5).

It’s important, however, to keep the information relevant and useful, and to make sure users who unsubscribe don’t keep hearing from you. That’s a major turn-off.

12. Turn your staff into brand ambassadors

Doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and administrative staff are the best branding ambassadors. They are on the front lines, after all, and are in a position to promote key messages.

Of course, this requires that they can speak confidently, authoritatively, and accurately, so they need to have specific talking points. You might even persuade them to sport “Ask me about …” buttons to promote new programs (like a wellness challenge, perhaps?) and services.

13. Host monthly or quarterly webinars

During the pandemic, people became more comfortable with video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom and Google Meet. These platforms make it easy to set up webinars, register attendees, and interact with questions and answers. Perhaps there’s a health concern in your community, such as rising rates of RSV infections among infants. You might:

  • Schedule and promote a webinar to answer patients’ key concerns.
  • Offer online registration.
  • Follow up with an email thanking them and encouraging them to make an appointment online for an in-person visit.

14. Create an emergency packet for patients

Even if you are unable to practice personalized medicine in its true sense (using genetics to devise a treatment plan), you can still personalize the patient experience. Help them by compiling a medical history they can keep at home in case paramedics have to be called.

A branded packet can be filled with:

  • The patient’s information (name, date of birth)
  • General medical history
  • Information on previous surgeries, allergies, chronic conditions (diabetes, hypertension), medications, and your contact information

Encourage them to add family members’ contact information and a HIPAA authorization for the person who will be representing the patient Then advise patients to post the information in an obvious place, like on the refrigerator, and to make sure it goes with them if they’re transported.

15. Use new-patient packets as a marketing application

Instead of handing new or returning patients a piece of paper and a clipboard, consider a folder that contains information about the healthcare providers, services offered, hospital affiliations, etc. Perhaps include a magnet that can live on the refrigerator.

Make the most of healthcare marketing ideas

That’s a lot of tips, isn’t it? You probably won’t want (or be able to) implement all of them all at once. Some will take considerable effort, expense, and expertise, such as optimizing your website and digital marketing.Some require regular attention, such as creating content or hosting webinars, but there are a few that are low-tech and set-it-and-forget-it, such as designing patient packets.

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Catherine Tansey, business writer and reporter

Catherine Tansey is a business and healthcare writer and reporter. She has close to a decade of experience writing and reporting on small business best practices, emerging technology, market trends, and more. Catherine has several family members who own private practices in mental health services, dentistry, and chiropractics, and she’s seen firsthand the pride and privilege practice owners feel to be able to support their communities.

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