Physician Marketing – Everything you need to know

Table of Contents

Physician Marketing - Everything you need to know

Introduction to physician marketing

In an age where every person accesses a practice’s online presence to establish their credibility; efficient management of listings, ratings, and reviews on the internet becomes mandatory for physician marketing. A physician’s practice will only flourish if they regularly maintain their social media pages and generate SEO content in form of blogs or social media posts. Any business, big or small, cannot afford to have either a negligible or negative online presence, which is where online reputation management for physician marketing comes in. Online reputation management ensures the promotion of a positive brand image whilst monitoring the internet for negative content or feedback, creating strategies for physician marketing to bring in positive reviews from clients, and maintaining only relevant content about your practice online. Physician marketing also involves advertising your practice through services like Google Ads since it increases your visibility and helps in getting more patients onboard.

Physician marketing through online reputation management

While an apple a day may keep the doctor away; however, failing to invest in physician online reputation management can pretty much shut their practice. According to a 2020 survey, 71 per cent of patients rely on online reviews to choose a healthcare provider, which clearly shows that physician marketing is heavily dependent on positive customer feedback for patient acquisition and retention. Word-of-mouth physician marketing may have worked for doctors in earlier times but as internet reliance becomes commonplace, a positive presence on the internet assures a new patient to sign up for your services. A distressed patient seeking treatment will go by the ratings and customer comments on various review sites to find a physician, who can relieve them of their ailments. Hence, proper physician online reputation management is a must for establishing a successful practice.

Strategies for physician marketing

Whether you have just graduated medical school with the highest distinction or have been a medical practitioner for 30 years, patients will not flock to your practice without an established reputation.  The best doctors in the world require physician marketing – whether physical recommendations or online presence – to bring in more patients. More and more physicians are warranting their patient outreach and satisfaction through online reputation management. Like every marketing tool, it constitutes several strategies. These strategies are further streamlined below to specifically focus on physician marketing;

  • Monitoring your online presence

Awareness is the key to unlocking your true potential when it comes to physician marketing. Checking prominent review websites like Yelp, ZocDoc, HealthGrades, Vitals, RateMDs, etc will paint a picture of your practice’s online reputation and provide you with a map to building a strategy to enhance it. If you do not have enough listings or reviews, it is imperative to reach out to patients to give their valuable feedback and testimonials. In case there are any negative reviews, a physician must respond to them in a timely manner, address the patient’s issues and use the input to avoid the same mistakes in the future. When the potential patients search for your entity online, they usually see the review websites even before they reach your practice’s website, making it incumbent to know what everyone is saying about you on the internet. 

  • Claiming Google Business Profile and other listings

Formerly known as ‘Google My Business’, this service by Google allows individuals and organizations to claim their presence on the most-used search engine. A physician’s Google Business Profile can be claimed to provide correct contact info, website, directions, photos, working hours, and answers to general queries. But the most prominent use of a Google Business Profile is to check ratings and reviews of a physician’s practice. Claiming this profile brings authenticity to your online presence and thus, it is a crucial step in physician online reputation management. The service also provides insights to ensure your success. Other similar services like Yelp help in authenticating a physician’s reputation.

  • Getting Patient Feedback

After being successfully treated at your practice, a patient would be willing to provide their feedback. Applying a proactive approach becomes important to utilize this window of opportunity. The physician or support staff can ask the patient to review their services immediately after the visit, which translates into honest and helpful feedback. This process is necessary to invite positive feedback to balance any negative reviews, which will be left by discontent patients without any encouragement. Physicians can use automated reputation management services to send out satisfaction surveys or feedback forms to their patients, post-appointment. Rating systems are always beneficial as they let potential patients make up their minds about choosing your services. Online reputation management also includes segregating high and low star ratings and addressing them as required.

  • Acknowledging positive and negative reviews

The next strategy in physician marketing is to respond to the reviews – good or bad. Replying to the reviews shows a practice’s investment in their patients. It shows that a physician is still taking care of you even after you’ve left their premises. By responding to the positive reviews, a physician effectively presents their gratitude. On the other hand, it is even more significant to acknowledge negative reviews and reply respectfully, taking care of their concerns. If appeased by your response, such patients may also be convinced to reevaluate the ratings and provide fresh feedback.

  • Using AI tools to manage online reputation

A physician’s primary goal is to satisfy the patient’s needs, which cannot be achieved only with treatment. An out-patient requires further information about their treatment and progress, and a medical practitioner can engage an AI platform to send out appointment reminders, care information, and surveys through text messages. Emitrr is one such digital platform, which helps create an automated channel between medical practices and their patients, taking care of physician marketing. Physicians can also use AI-Powered Patient Sentiment Analysis to pick up on any negative sentiments in the reviews provided by patients. Such algorithms cut down the manual time to scan through reviews and help a practice extend complete satisfaction to their patients.

  • Involving staff for wholesome patient experience

While patient satisfaction relies mostly on successful diagnosis and treatment by a physician, the experience provided by the staff is beneficial as well. A friendly staff, who schedule appointments on time, make billing easy, and provide easy access to other information, will count in the eyes of a patient as they write down their review. The staff’s involvement may only seem important in an operational sense, but their attitude towards the patients matters a lot when it comes to physician marketing. 

  • Using Social Media

Apart from reviews and ratings, social media presence is a prerequisite for all businesses these days. Physicians and other medical practitioners are taking to LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and even Tik Tok to promote their brands. Although physician marketing is primarily dependent on patient reviews, creating a brand image on social media is proving to be helpful. Physicians can write posts or create videos about useful medical information, and conduct Q&A sessions to connect with potential patients. Comments on these social media posts also count as reviews.

An infographic listing top 7 physician marketing strategies

How to deal with negative reviews? 

Any business is bound to receive all kinds of feedback. While patients may not volunteer to leave positive feedback upon satisfactory treatment, negative ratings are always dispensed without reserve. A negative review cannot be taken off the internet (unless it breaches certain legal parameters) and must be dealt with courteously. It is important to take criticism in stride because it will help in physician marketing and let doctors build a better business. If a patient has faced any problems at your practice, the first line of action is to assure them that the inconvenience is deeply regretted and that you would take specific actions to rectify the mistakes. When reaching out to such patients, ensure that there was no miscommunication and that all the information was relayed correctly. 

The patient can also be asked to discuss their complaints via telephonic communication with the physician or their staff. The idea is to prove to the patient that the physician cares about their needs and is willing to go a step ahead to guarantee satisfaction. No physician wants to invite lawsuits against their practice, therefore addressing these complaints is inevitable. The timing of response is a critical factor. The sooner, the better.  Nevertheless, responding to negative reviews cannot be avoided. If you fail to admit to your errors publicly, it shows you as apathetic, bringing your ratings further down.

The only other way to deal with negative reviews is to bury them under positive posts about your practice. It is paramount to seek positive feedback actively so that the balance of positive vs negative reviews is tilted in the physician’s favor. Writing blog posts or social media posts and asking patients to leave positive comments on both can hide the negative feedback a physician may have received.

An infographic flowchart on how to handle negative reviews; 1. Unsatisfactory treatment by physician, 2. Patient leaves negative review, 3. Acknowledgement and Apology, 4.Communication to improve services, 5. New Action Plan

Conclusion

Online Reputation Management is an important tool for physician marketing. Putting up your credentials on a display board outside your practice doesn’t cut it anymore as people pin their hopes on search engines to help them choose a physician for consultation. There are several points of focus including positive and negative reviews, social media presence, online listings, star- ratings, Google Business Profile, and use of AI tools, which become key parameters in defining strategies for physician online reputation management. A physician has to employ these strategies to their optimum potential in order to acquire and retain patients while also using the feedback to implement a better action plan for the future.

 

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