What has Dr Google done for you lately?
As the internet disrupts just about every industry we know, a growing concern has been the influence it has had on consumers and their relationship to their own health.
A trip to a trusted GP for advice or treatment is now often replaced with a quick google search, App or Siri request. Patients would rather take advice from an unknown source online than pay the price of a visit to a qualified doctor.
A 2016 survey by NPS Medicinewise found that 60% of Australians admitted to looking up online health information. It also found that many were attempting to self-diagnose rather than paying for an GP visit.
At first glance, the figures trigger alarm for the implications on public health as well as the effect on public confidence and trust in registered and reputable healthcare providers.
The repercussions are not all bad for smart and genuinely caring professionals however.
One of the upsides of an internet connected population is that, with the right digital tools and practices, specialist healthcare providers can reach and assist many more people than those that cross their physical threshold and with a little dedication, can generate opportunities to increase revenue and contribution to the community.
Like it or not, the healthcare industry must embrace the fact (some may even celebrate) that consumers have much higher access to health and treatment options via the internet.
Practitioners that choose to contribute to the free information available achieve at least three things:
- They assist many more people from a much larger area to find better health outcomes.
- They add to the accuracy and efficacy of information available. Yes, there is also the easy opportunity for incorrect, corrupt and misleading information on the net so the more qualified and accurate information there, the better off our communities will be.
- And lastly, they can reap the combined benefits of reach and automated interactivity to add to their own patient numbers, reputation and nurtured leads.
For specialist medical practitioners, the old way of growing your client base was through referrals from GPs. That can make life hard for newer practitioners and as a practice is becoming dated.
The internet allows patients to do their own research before, during and after a GP visit. This exposes them to a large and often varied amount of “advice” but also gives the practitioner a chance to short-circuit the old referral channel.
By using a disciplined approach to inbound marketing which includes content development, SEO and social media activity, specialists can not only garner a greater number of visitors to their website it can also engender a huge amount of trust and referral from patients themselves.
Inbound Marketing for health practitioners is not a quick fix solution – the internet is a busy place full of competitive information and misinformation. It does however, allow good information to slowly rise to the top of search engines rankings.
Several early adopters have, after a solid 12 months of activity with a professional strategy, found themselves with larger volumes of traffic, a bigger share of voice in their local market and a boost in reputation.
Not all visitors will become patients immediately. So a well-managed, opt-in automation plan also allows for the decision making process of patients to take its natural course with the practice playing a nurturing role along the way.* This has been found to increase long term business growth and public referral.
There are several techniques health practitioners need to become familiar with to maximise their contribution and reputation from the ongoing growth of the concept known as Dr Google. Seeking advice from a reputable Digital Inbound Agency is the first step. Committing to a solid monthly activity plan is the next.
For advice and case studies in Inbound Marketing for health practitioners, contact Nimbler Digital for a Free discovery consultation enquire here.
- NB There are clear regulations that medical practitioners must follow to remain within guidelines for marketing as set out by APRA and the AMA. These should be made clear to you at the outset of any Inbound Marketing plan by your chosen agency.
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