March 30, 2017
What is the best way to promote your physicians online?
To answer that question, you have to understand today’s healthcare consumers. Who are they, what are they looking for, and what factors influence them most?
Who Is Searching for Medical Information Online?
Women are avid healthcare information consumers. So it is no surprise that middle-aged women (45-64 years old) and younger women (18-44 years old) are the demographic groups that perform the most online searches for medical information. Nearly half (43%) of consumers who believe there are large quality differences among providers also perform frequent healthcare searches, as do high earners and those who are insured through their employers.
Since women are more likely to be caregivers, either for children or an elderly parent, they are motivated to search for medical information more often. Educated, high-income consumers also realize that where they receive care affects their outcomes.
What Factors Influence Them?
In general, consumers prefer provider experience over a maximum star rating, given only a 1-star difference between doctors. Also, given the choice, consumers prefer a provider with a slightly lower star rating combined with more patient reviews (64%) over a provider with a higher star rating but fewer patient reviews (36%). But “reviews” can take multiple forms when we consider the influence of social media.
For example, consumers will choose a 5-star physician with only three patient reviews over a 4-star physician with 25 reviews if the 5-star physician also has multiple Facebook likes and Twitter followers. Consumers are looking for the overall volume of endorsement, in addition to the specifics that reviews provide.
Social media indicators matter most to consumers under 55 years of age, and those living in cities or suburbs who have more care options than rural dwellers. Specific social media influence shouldn’t come as a surprise, as, according to recent Pew Research Center findings, the majority of social media users are between 18 and 64 years old. Facebook remains the favorite social networking platform.
How to Effectively Promote Your Physicians
What does this mean for your physician marketing strategy? Four things:
1. Flesh out online physician profiles. Build the most comprehensive profiles possible for your physicians, so they appeal to savvy consumers who regularly seek out health information online. Include a professional photo of your physician. Ensure their educational and professional information is accurate and complete — including their specialty, practice address, and phone number. Include ways to connect with participating physicians on social media.
2. Get proactive about reviews. Capture patients’ email addresses and cell phone numbers when they make an appointment. Ask for permission to send them useful messages by text or email. Automatically send out patient review requests immediately following appointments, when consumers are most likely to act.
3. Realize that social media matters. Invite patients to connect with your physicians through social media. Encourage your physicians to connect with patients by providing useful health information on Facebook or Twitter. The more friends and followers your physicians have, the more appealing they will be to prospective patients.
4. Invest in your younger physicians. Provide marketing support to build the practices of your younger physicians. They need to cement their reputations through reviews and social media promotion, balancing their relative lack of experience compared with older peers.
The best way to promote your physicians online is to cater to factors that influence consumers. Make provider profiles transparent, informative, and social.