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To Attract Patients For Your Medical Practice, Protect Your Online Reputation

The average patient may not know much about medicine, but they know they want a doctor they trust. To succeed in digital marketing, you need to not only inspire confidence, but get patients to share their positive experiences online for others to see.
Unfortunately, people are more likely to share negative experiences online than positive ones. Many medical practices have a spotty online reputation – not because of poor care, but because they don’t market their patients’ positive experiences.

Some doctors shy away from participating in the conversation around their online brand. They are concerned working to uphold their reputation in the online arena could become misleading or even unethical.

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Bringing positive patient experiences to the forefront means others in your community will be able to recognize when your practice is a good fit for them. The result is greater patient control over the healthcare experience and better outcomes.

Reputation management means safeguarding your online “first impression” in three areas:

  • Collecting and sharing positive patient experiences in compelling ways
  • Correcting misconceptions and inaccuracies in reviews of your practice
  • Providing an outstanding online experience for new and current patients

Let’s look at these three pieces of the puzzle and how they fit together.

1. Help Your Current Patients Tell Their Stories
Social proof is how you reflect the positive experiences of your patients by telling their stories. It helps leads see that others in a similar situation to them received excellent care at your practice.

There are three main ways to offer social proof:

  • Reviews, including those you collect yourself and those submitted to third-party websites
  • Testimonials, in which patients provide a more detailed description of their experience
  • Case Studies, a narrative account of the patient’s whole journey to achieving wellness

The line between reviews and testimonials is often blurry; reviews usually include a score of 1-5, but might have detailed information about the patient’s experience like a testimonial.

There are many medical practices, such as chiropractic, acupuncture, and medical spas, where patients can see rapid results and be very enthusiastic. While you can’t incentivize reviews, you can make a habit of requesting them when patients are clearly ready to share.

You then showcase those reviews throughout your website and share them on social media.

What about dieticians, dentists, and others where treatment is variable and takes longer?

This is where the case study comes in.

A case study is a narrative that can follow a patient’s journey across months or years to show what their concern was, how you treated it, and what kind of results the patient is enjoying now. It enables patients to speak in their own words.

Future patients identify with them–and then call you.

A testimonial may be only a few sentences, but a case study is longer, often 6-10 pages. It provides enough detail for readers to truly understand the patient’s situation, the stakes, and how things changed as a result of care. Relatively few patient stories will be suitable for a case study, but they’re the content new patients most often turn to before choosing between several medical practices.

2. Monitor Your Third-Party Review Websites On A Weekly Basis
Websites like Yelp, Zocdoc, and Healthgrades have grown over the years as more patients want to compare doctors before deciding on a visit. Unfortunately, these sites aren’t exactly objective.

Rankings on these sites don’t take into account medical outcomes, only patient comments. So, medical practices can get slapped with a low rating just because a patient disagreed with advice.

You should already be listed on these sites – having your business address, website, and email up to date in listings helps you show up in local search. But you should also set your accounts to let you know when you get a review. As new reviews appear, take action right away.

Most of the time, you can simply thank the reviewer for a positive review.

For a negative review, always respond in a calm, courteous fashion. Check your understanding of the facts. Could the review contain a grain of truth? Is there anything you could do now to resolve the situation? Succinctly explain your understanding of the situation, avoiding Protected Health Information, and try to engage the reviewer by phone or email.

Sometimes, negative reviewers simply want to be heard. If they feel their issue is addressed, they might amend or delete their negative review. Either way, future readers will appreciate your professionalism and personal attention to a patient’s concerns.

3. Provide An Outstanding Patient Experience On Your Practice Website
Interactivity on your website can help patients feel connected, even when you’re not involved.

For example, a 2020 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed an AI-based chatbot was more effective than a static page in helping patients understand their symptoms and reduce anxiety around them.

Other options can include:

  • Live chat with your patient support team
  • Email correspondence from care providers
  • Brief telehealth meetings of 10-15 minutes

When you’re looking for the best way to provide patient support, be sure the option you choose allows patients to access medically vetted information fast. Patients should also be alerted to symptoms and situations that mean they should seek medical attention immediately.

Video storytelling is another way to provide the personal touch. Most patients surveyed say they don’t get to spend enough time with physicians and other care providers. Even a pre-recorded video can be reassuring, as patients can see your face and hear your voice.

Studies say many people find reviews and testimonials more trustworthy than recommendations from their friends. Contact New York Ave to discuss a medical practice marketing strategy that will help you attract more great reviews–and more of the right patients for you.

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