Health care marketing is experiencing some significant changes, and medical practices need to keep up if they’re going to get a good return on investment from their marketing dollars.
Who’s your customer?
Under the Affordable Care Act, we saw a flood of new patients who had not previously had access to private insurance and in many cases had not had a primary care physician since they were children. Reaching out to this new market has been helpful to these patients and to growth-oriented medical practices.
Now, with uncertainty over the future of private insurance and Medicaid/ Medicare programs alike, we may see more new patients… or a loss of patients and a need to change our focus if we want to continue to maintain or grow practices.
At the same time, technology gives us more data about the people who are looking to us for information. Web analytics can tell us the age, gender, and location of the people who visit practice websites, as well as the kind of information they’re accessing. And of course we can now offer people much more information online as well as convenient ways to book appointments, pay bills, or refill prescriptions online.
Who’s your competition?
New business models are emerging in healthcare and tech use is increasing. But when it comes to health care marketing, doctors are behind the times. A check of physicians listed in Google’s local search results here in Fayetteville, Arkansas, showed a pattern that Google tells us is typical across the nation:
- Of all the doctors listed as individual practitioners, nearly half (47%) had no website at all.
- 42% linked to another web page. In about half of these cases, the website was their clinic or group practice. However, several linked to a social media platform and one linked to a review website.
- Only 10% had their own practice websites.
Clinics, hospitals, and group practices are much more likely to have websites than individual practitioners. However, the numbers above are from Google’s local listings. Google’s local search will show some doctors without websites, but a doctor without a website will usually not show up well except in searches for his or her name. The number of physicians who are not included in the listings and do not have websites is probably much larger than what we saw in our sample.
From the perspective of online health care marketing, these facts make it a great time to be working on your website. Clinics, hospitals, and group practices have fewer competitors in any town than private practice physicians. Private practice physicians have more competitors, but so many have no websites at all that the level of competition online is far lower than the total number of competitors.
This is before we even think about the quality of the websites. In many neighborhoods, any doctor who makes an effort with his or her website could easily outshine all competitors. Click To Tweet
What are your next steps?
More than 85% of Americans look for health care providers online, but only 10% of private practitioners in our sample had their own websites, and nearly half had no website at all. This is a serious mismatch.
Facebook or your page on a review site are not good substitutes. If you don’t have a website, you need one.
If you do have a website, you’re already so far ahead of the competition that some effort with SEO could probably put you in a strong position faster than you expect.