The patient path to purchase is well documented. People who need to see a doctor tend to search first for information about their problems. The vast majority of American adults look to Google for healthcare information. As they learn, they narrow in on more specific searches. Having visited an average of about 10 sources of information, they’re ready to research specific solutions. At this point, they’ll look for a healthcare professional who takes their insurance and is close to them. Connecting with potential patients can take place all along this path.
Don’t hop on at the end of the line
The length of time a patient spends researching depends on the urgency of the problem as well as price and complexity. A healthcare decision can take one to five months. You might figure you should target potential customers who have already been through the intensive research and are ready to make a purchase decision.
You could do this. A consumer who has decided to go with physical therapy for his back pain will be more likely to search for “physical therapist near me who accepts Blue Cross” than to search for “back pain.” Set up ads for the end of journey prospective patient and you will mostly show up for people who are ready to book an appointment.
But you will have missed out on the opportunity to connect with those patients at earlier points. When you don’t show up for those early searches on “back pain” and “physical therapy vs. medication,” your competitors will. So you let your competitors step in and show prospective patients that they are knowledgeable, helpful, and generous.
One recent study found that consumers looking for an optometrist only considered two providers, on average, before making a decision. Once your prospective patient has been helped by content at your website, he will be more likely to visit your website when narrowing down provider choices.
Get contact permission
Getting back to our example consumer looking for a solution to back pain, we can imagine that he will become aware of lots of possibilities, from yoga to surgery. The required investment of time and/or money is considerable, so the path to purchase may be long.
Connecting with potential patients requires showing up in search and perhaps engaging them on social media, but it’s also great to be able to reach out. That back pain sufferer will do research, but he may be moved to make an appointment when you send him a newsletter detailing your treatment for back pain.
Getting permission to send an email without running into problems with HIPAA is essential. Use popups to invite subscribers. Offer a free download such as an ebook on back pain. Invite web visitors to join your online community. As long as you have permission to contact, you can reach out rather than waiting for your visitor to contact you.
Once you have permission
One great way of staying in touch with potential patients is to set up a series of email messages. An email mentioning milestones for new babies, a series emails examining and comparing back pain treatments, or a 30-day challenge moving toward better sleep — the possibilities are endless.
Make sure that you’re providing value. You don’t need to have something revolutionary to offer. Reminders of well established and well documented facts are just as likely to move your readers to make that appointment as a promise of a new and different solution. Demonstrating that you are competent and likable can be enough.
Haden Interactive can help you connect with prospective patients. Contact us to learn more.