These Doctors Are Using Medical Marketing to REDUCE Stress While Growing Their Practices (Here’s How You Can, Too)
As a professional healthcare practitioner, you’re probably always searching for ways to attract patients and sustain a full practice.
At the same time, you likely want to be able to devote your time and energy to your current patients, instead of stressing about starting or maintaining complicated marketing campaigns.
You’ve already devoted years to becoming an expert in your field. You don’t want to have to become an advertising expert as well.
So how do you connect with your ideal patients?
By finding and applying the medical marketing strategies that work for you.
This article offers eight low-stress, data-based strategies shown to help practitioners like you increase your reach and visibility. And, if you want to boost your search engine ranking, improve your web design, effectively utilize email, and more, you’ll gain the insights your practice needs to thrive in our digital age.
By taking smart steps, you can fill your practice and start picking the clients you want (without having to spend extra time on marketing). Most importantly, you can focus on patients and the reason you got into medicine in the first place.
What Is Medical Marketing? (and Why You Need It)
Medical marketing is an umbrella term for all those ways professionals and practitioners utilize advertising to spread the word about their practices.
But why does a modern healthcare professional need to worry about a marketing plan?
To put it simply, healthcare practitioners can’t operate the way they used to.
For example, maybe you were relying solely on referrals or insurance panels, but those wells seem to be running dry. Or maybe you have noticed customers doing more preventative care or seeing holistic practitioners rather than seeking your services.
Let’s zoom in on the rise in holistic practices, which can be viewed as a case study in the value of medical marketing.
Because they aren’t on insurance panels or getting referrals the way traditional healthcare practitioners can, holistic practitioners must market themselves online. As a result, they are actually gaining an edge over some traditional practices that haven’t learned how to use medical marketing effectively yet.
That’s not to say that more traditional practitioners aren’t trying. In fact, many feel a great deal of stress as they try to build their practices and get the right patients. Countless skilled healthcare professionals are working extra hours and pouring in extra money, only to find that their practice still isn’t where they want it to be.
It’s no wonder that, in 2017, the National Academy Of Medicine reported: “More than half of US physicians are experiencing substantial symptoms of burnout.”
An effective, up-to-date healthcare marketing strategy can reduce this immense stress. So, why aren’t more practitioners using one?
Because they are:
- Used to primary care referrals
- On insurance panels
- Feeling ill-equipped to handle more patients
- Already short on time, with little to spare for marketing
- Skeptical of investing in unfamiliar strategies
- Concerned about HIPAA compliance
You’re not alone if one or more of the above describes you. But the truth is that the medical field is transforming, and medical marketing needs to adapt appropriately.
Here are some of the changes driving your practice’s need for a more consistent, robust medical marketing plan:
- Patients are more and more educated and know what they’re looking for.
- Increased patient privacy regulations impact how websites, email marketing, and social media can store and share information.
- As more hospitals buy private practices, more doctors are becoming employees. This means doctors have less power to choose and purchase medical services.
- Decreased insurance reimbursements make patients more concerned with how they spend their money.
- Widespread use of sophisticated technology means more potential patients select care providers based on digital marketing and online search results.
- Medical marketers are branching out from targeting doctors alone to directly targeting consumers, increasing advertising competition.
This evolving marketing landscape can be stressful for any practitioner. Concerns about being HIPAA compliant—or following federal regulations for protecting patient health information—can make it especially intimidating to try digital marketing. This is particularly true if you don’t feel tech savvy.
So, what’s the good news?
Changing your approach to marketing doesn’t have to mean risking patient confidentiality or sacrificing your professional ethics. In fact, you can claim complete control over how you represent your work and your practice.
Medical marketing for doctors doesn’t have to be cold or disconnected or push generic options—it can be personalized and build relationships with future patients.
It can also separate itself from the big, impersonal machine insurance has become. That split can be a great thing for both the health and finances of healthcare practitioners. It allows you to speak directly to your ideal clients and help them access optimal care.
To put it simply, more and more practitioners are discovering that change can be a very good thing.
8 Healthcare Practitioners Who Reduced Their Stress By Going On Their Own & Marketing Themselves
(Zeifman Orthodontics) Connect Traditional Offline Marketing to Your Website
In a world of overwhelming digital options, many health professionals prefer traditional marketing. That is: billboards, print ads, speaking engagements, referrals, and more.
If that sounds like you, there’s good news. Done right, traditional marketing still works.
That’s because, just like practitioners, patients all have different media preferences. And in some cases, traditional marketing can seal the deal when digital marketing can’t.
The 2012 Google/Compete Wellness Study investigated “what influences [patients’] hospital choice.” They found that the vast majority of patients—84%!—”use both online and offline searches for research.”
This study found that TV, magazines, and newspaper all played a role in patient choice. But even more significant was the impact of referrals, both personal and professional.
- 86% of all patients said their physician’s recommendation is important
- 49% of patients using online and offline resources researched hospitals at their physician’s office
- 34% of patients using online and offline resources consulted family members and friends for recommendations
It’s also very important to note that, of those patients conducting online and offline research, 76% visited the hospital’s website.
What does that mean?
For traditional marketing methods to work, you must also have a well-designed, complementary website. And that website must offer prospective patients the information they need to make their decision.
To understand how this works, let’s take a look at this billboard from Zeifman Orthodontics.
The Zeifman billboard includes a phone number so patients can call right away and a URL so patients can go online to learn more. And their website matches their billboard so people visiting will automatically know they’re in the right place.
You’ll notice that the Zeifman website includes much more detail than can fit on a billboard. Here, patients can get a sense of what they’ll actually experience in the office, as well as gain a sense of confidence in the orthodontist’s credentials.
So, the billboard grabs attention, and the website converts interest into calls.
That means you and/or your staff don’t have to deal with the stress of fielding phone calls from confused, ultimately disinterested clients. Instead, you’ll get more contact from clients who already know they want to make an appointment with you.
(BK Ultrasound) SEO & Website
For your patients to request your services, they need to find you. That means you need a stellar website that tops the search engine rankings.
It’s important to note that most patients aren’t searching by doctor or practice name. According to the Google/Compete Wellness Study, when researching healthcare options:
- 38% of patients research symptoms or medical departments.
- 37% research conditions or diseases.
- 19% search a hospital-branded term (i.e., hospital name).
- 6% search treatments or procedures.
Why does that matter?
If you specialize in a particular condition, you want your practice to rank well when patients search symptom-related terms, or what digital marketers call keywords.
This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in. In part, an optimized website expertly utilizes relevant keywords to climb the Google ranks.
The BK Ultrasound website is a great example. In fact, it won the 2016 Medical Web Award (MWA) for Best Medical Equipment Website.
From the user’s end, their website is sleek and easy to navigate. It features compelling images, an active blog, and a running tally of media appearances.
But this website is much more than aesthetically pleasing. Let’s look at its ranking statistics.
You can see here that BK Ultrasound has excelled at Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It has a high domain rating (DR) and an incredible, growing number of backlinks (meaning links to BK Ultrasound from other websites).
This website is also currently ranking for 3.2k keywords and seeing 3.5k/month in organic traffic. That means just a 2% conversion rate would yield 70 new clients each month.
An optimized website helps attract new (and private pay) clients by ranking for organic search terms potential patients are using. It also drives referral traffic by securing links from other high domain websites.
That means your website does your marketing work for you.
Tips for HIPAA Compliant Marketing
To protect patient information on your website, you should:
- Encrypt patient data, including all information shared through online forms.
- Only send protected information over a secure network or through encrypted email.
- Make sure your server is secure with, for example, antivirus software and a firewall.
- Dispose of sensitive information correctly, regularly, and completely.
(Cleveland Clinic) Web Design
Seeking help is hard, especially for patients dealing with distressing symptoms. A medical practitioner’s website shouldn’t add to the confusion.
What makes this website so effective and appealing?
- A welcoming above-the-fold image to build rapport and establish a sense of warmth
- A header that lets visitors know exactly what they can get (Access Anytime Anywhere)
- Clear navigation at the top of the site, including an immediately accessible phone number
- Links that cater to local and non-local patients so people always know the right link to click on
- Clear Calls to Action referencing their primary services and differentiating between patients and doctors
- Content that gives patients the information they want and allows them to learn more
- Menu options that make it easy to schedule a consultation or appointment without leaving the website or searching to find the scheduling page
- Well-chosen, soothing colors (blues and creams)
- Images that inspire connection and confidence
On every point, the Cleveland Clinic offers a great model for practitioner websites.
Taking the time to build a website with care is a huge stress reducer in the long-run. The right design helps patients find the information they need, increasing conversions.
And when a website offers detailed, well-written information, online visitors stay longer. That helps search engines recognize the site’s value, helping it become more visible for yet more potential patients.
(Philips Healthcare) Social Media
Social media is a significant force in online healthcare marketing. On Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, and more, you have a unique opportunity to showcase your brand (and control the messaging).
Social media also allows you to engage potential patients, as well as other doctors and potential referrers. You can do this directly, through comments and messages, or indirectly, perhaps by participating in a hashtag campaign to increase awareness around an issue and/or your brand. (For example, Carilion Clinic of Virginia’s Roanoke Valley used the #YESMAMM hashtag to raise awareness about breast cancer and advertising their screenings.)
On social media platforms, you can also use contests, quizzes, and social campaigns to increase your reach and shares. The more people share your posts, the more people learn about your work.
Social media allows practitioners to reach swaths of patients and build brand visibility for free.
Philips offers a great example of that low-stress marketing in action. They use different social media platforms to connect with patients wherever they are.
Let’s zoom in on how Philips is utilizing some specific platforms:
- Offers an engaging mix of links, helpful information (like nutritious juice recipes), and video content.
- They typically reply within the hour, allowing them to interact with patients and practitioners more directly than they can through a website alone.
- Doesn’t just repeat Facebook content.
- Offers a mix of images, links, polls, company announcements, and healthcare info to keep followers interested.
- Features an “Innovations in Health” group that has over 145k members.
- Provides professionals a way to connect with their brand and to give medical practitioners a professional platform.
- Features videos about the work they do, specific products and solutions they offer, company announcements, etc.
- Uses YouTube as a resource for patients. (You don’t have to have every video go viral to use the platform effectively.)
Across these platforms, Philips doesn’t bombard followers with posts, but they do enough to maintain their presence and help patients find them quickly. And by linking back to their website, they increase organic traffic. That means increasing their client base.
Tips for HIPAA Compliant Marketing
To protect patient information on social media, you should:
- Build separate social media profiles for your practice. You don’t want to mix up personal and professional posts!
- Implement a workplace-wide social media policy. Clarify what is and is not acceptable to post.
- Maintain professional boundaries and reject friend requests from patients.
- Never include any information that can help someone identify a patient.
(UCHealth) Paid Advertising/Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaigns
When your potential patients search for health services, they most likely use their region or location in their search terms. After all, they want to find a medical practice that’s convenient and accessible.
Even if your area is flooded with medical practitioners, using paid advertising can help you rise to the very top of a local Google search.
For example, here’s what you see if you search “boulder doctor”:
UCHealth is the very first practice you see, even above other local doctors. That’s because they’ve invested in a Google Ad to increase visibility.
That ad is formatted just like any other search result. Potential clients don’t have to do anymore scrolling. They don’t even have to click! The UCHealth phone number is right there in the ad.
But, if they do click, they arrive on a simple landing page, which invites people to request an appointment. This no-distraction landing page increases conversion rate: visitors can either opt-in or click back to other results.
At every step, UCHealth has made requesting their services almost effortless.
When it comes to medical marketing for doctors, that’s an undeniably smart approach. Remember, people want their healthcare search to be painless. In fact, research shows that “81% of people click on a sponsored link when looking for health information.”
Sponsored ads and PPC campaigns help practitioners carve out their place in crowded markets. And they drive results faster. That means less time wasted stressing over gaps in your schedule and more time spent serving your patients.
(The Floating Hospital for Children) Email Marketing
Email marketing involves the creation of engaging, info-packed newsletters that speak to the interests of your patients.
It’s important to note that you grow an email list through voluntary sign-ups. So, email marketing speaks to an audience that has already expressed some level of interest in your services.
Through regular emails, you can keep your practice in your client’s thoughts, share events and findings, and build rapport.
For example, consider The Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center.
The hospital treats children, but their target audience is the parents—specifically, the moms with children who are patients. Using both a separate website and dedicated email marketing, The Floating Hospital builds community around a specific shared experience. They also build a connection with their audience and provide a valuable resource these parents need.
Email marketing can be automated. That makes it a great marketing method for practitioners looking to grow and ascend relationships with current and potential patients without spending extra time on it.
Once your emails are set to send out, you can focus on their practice, not the marketing.
Tips for HIPAA Compliant Marketing
To protect patient information in email marketing, you should:
- Confirm that your actual email marketing service is secure and HIPAA-compliant. Not all services are designed for healthcare promotion, which means they don’t always protect sensitive patient information.
- Make sure your patients know that email is rarely 100% secure and offer them alternative methods of communication.
- Ask patients whether or not they wish to receive emails. Never send an email to a patient who doesn’t say yes.
- Encrypt all professional emails.
(Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center) Mobile Optimization
Patients are increasingly using their phones to conduct research and look into doctors, hospitals, and treatment centers. To accommodate the modern patient’s needs, it’s important that your mobile website is functional and clear.
Here are two screenshots of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s website.
By ensuring their website is mobile friendly/optimized, MSKCC guarantees users will be able to access/navigate the info they provide without awkward scrolling (which would result in many visitors leaving).
Their website doesn’t freeze phones or cause browsing apps to crash. Instead, the design shifts to fit the screen size, making it easy for potential patients to get more information, make an appointment, find a doctor, etc. Visitors can learn relevant details and reach out from anywhere, anytime.
This functionality is crucial for online medical marketing. According to the Google/Compete Hospital Study, “roughly 1/3 of patients used tablets or mobile devices on a daily basis for research and/or to book appointments.”
In 2017, Becker’s Hospital Review published other important findings. According to data from DocASAP:
- 69% of appointments are booked from a mobile device.
- 54% of appointments booked online are from new patients.
- 43% of appointments are booked after normal practice hours (made possible by mobile options).
- 39 % of online bookings are from patients over the age of 40.
Having a functional, simple-to-navigate mobile website makes it easy for busy clients to actually make appointments. Clients of all ages are looking for convenience and ease.
And when patients take charge of booking their appointments, you save time coordinating schedules and returning calls.
(Dr. Sandra Lee) Video Marketing
On YouTube, Board Certified Dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee uses a range of videos to build a following, grow interest in the field, and increase visibility on her brand/practice.
Dr. Lee showcases different skin conditions, partners with other video marketers, and taps into people’s interest in seeing… well, pimples popping. She makes dermatology interesting and “fun” without trying to do too much or branching too far away from her area of expertise.
Some of her videos have 10s of millions of views. Because she includes links back to her website and other social media channels, those millions of views convert to huge traffic for her practice.
While her site isn’t as optimized as some others we reviewed, she drives an incredible 52.5k/month organic traffic, largely attributed to her strong video marketing and YouTube presence.
As Dr. Lee’s success shows, video marketing increases visibility and helps build rapport with patients before they contact you. This reduces calls that go nowhere and increases calls from patients ready to get started.
Video marketing is yet another effective strategy to alleviate stress and boost professional progress.
Better Marketing. Lower Stress. Better Patient Care.
In our modern digital age, medical marketing is key for building your practice’s good reputation and growing an engaged client base.
Although it takes some investment of time and energy, these marketing ideas show that this growth doesn’t have to be painful. By choosing some strategies that appeal to you, you can create a platform that does your outreach for you.
Don’t let marketing cause you stress. Let it relieve the pressure and reconnect you with the work you love.
If you’re ready to spend your time working with patients, explore these articles and learn more about different effective marketing strategies.
- Why Medical Content Marketing is More Important NOW than Ever Before
- Reasons Why Your Website Isn’t Winning Over New Patients
- How Conversion Optimization Gets You New Patients
- Healthcare Advertising Budget
- Four Marketing Mistakes to Avoid This Year