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Social Engagement for the Medical Industry

In this ever changing landscape of social media, the medical world is seeing the benefits of using social media as a marketing tool. Many physician groups are using Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to grow their practice and earn patient referrals. From the small country doctor, to large hospital groups, the use of social media is becoming a powerful way to engage patients.

So what is social media and how can it help my practice? Social Media is, in its purest form, interaction among people and is used to share opinions, ideas, hopes, dreams, and fears. It is an open door into their lives inasmuch as they allow it, creating a unique opportunity for a medical provider to be able to engage their patients. Engaged patients are more likely to follow the advice of their medical professional, keep appointments, seek out new information on their health, and therefore, have better medical outcomes. Using social media allows your practice to be active in the care of your patients outside of the typical visit.

Through the use of Twitter, Facebook, and the multitude of physician rating sites you can provide valuable information directly to a multitude of people without being intrusive. Examples could be as simple as a tweet reminding your followers to use sunscreen on a holiday weekend, or placing a post about a new medication or treatment on your Facebook site. You could write a blog on some of the cutting edge treatments available for your specialty or can be as simple as wishing your patients a happy birthday. Subliminally your patients will then have you top of mind and will most likely have a higher degree of regard for you. As a medical provider you have a front row seat into some of the most personal aspects of your patients’ lives and is a vehicle for you to be on the forefront with them and no longer out of sight or out of mind.

While it was slow to adopt, the healthcare industry is quickly moving towards social media as an avenue to not only market, but to have a meaningful impact on the lives of their number one asset- their patients.

Social media is most likely already a part of your patients’ lives. While they are “Tweeting” and “Liking”, you have an awesome opportunity to engage and empower them to become involved in their health. The returns for both you and your patients are immeasurable. Here at IMAGINE, we are committed to helping you navigate this ever changing world of social engagement. Feel free to contact me directly for more information on how IMAGINE can develop a strategy for you to become a more social part of your patients’ lives.




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Physician Rating Websites Influence Patient Acquisitions

Patients are increasingly researching doctors, the question is: are they finding your practice, or your competition’s? “It’s important that when patients go to search for a service or procedure online, that your practice comes up,” explains Katie Robbins, Director of Marketing for Charlotte Radiology at the May 2014 Radiology Summit. If and when these patients see your practice online, are they viewing positive or negative information? With sites like RateMDs.com, healthgrades.com, and vitals.com, patients who have visited your practice are given a strong voice that can loudly influence how online potential patients are viewing your practice. Having positive online reviews and testimonials is vital for your practice reputation.

Due to consumer demand, health insurance companies are expanding their healthcare networks and patients (now more than ever) are being given the go-ahead by their insurance companies to choose which in-network doctor they visit with no referrals needed. Blue cross Blue Shield of NC’s top three health insurance plans offer patients the ability to visit specialty doctors with no referrals.

Not requiring referrals gives patients the right to choose, and many online savvy patients are whipping out their smart phones, tablets, and laptops to start picking their best option. “When I found out I needed surgery, I immediately went online to search for the most qualified and well rated doctor,” stated Patti Galloway, a mortgage loan originator in Charlotte, NC. Patti chose the doctor with the highest patient satisfaction scores and this trend is continuing to increase.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, (JAMA) ( Zylke, 2014;311:734-735,) word-of-mouth referrals and referrals from partnering physicians currently surpass doctor rating website referrals, but the numbers of patients who are using them is continuing to rise as many of these sites are still gaining traction.

While patients will continue to turn to resources online to uncover their best option for services, practices need to be aware of how their doctors are rated and develop strategies to increase positive patient reviews.




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Internet Marketing for the Medical Industry

Long gone are the days when the medical world could just rely on referrals from their colleagues.

Two things have spurred this catalyst: the first being the advent of a digital age in which consumers can have research at their fingertips to help with decisions that they used to leave to the "professionals." The second being the Affordable Care Act, wherein now, the freedom of choice in providers has opened up new levels that have not been seen before.

This creates a whole new world, not only for the patients, but now also for the providers. First, one must consider how truly competitive the medical industry is and understand that anything that can create an edge over the competition should be looked at. In days past, a practice could rely upon basic marketing principles, such as the Yellow Pages, radio, newspapers, and word of mouth. Now, however, the internet is arguably the most important marketing method that you can have. Just having a website is not enough, though. You need to appeal to your potential clients and you must engage them.

SEO, Social Media, and Reputation Management are now the tools that need to be employed to develop a reputation as a provider of choice. What these tools will do for you is make you stand out in the sea of information on the search engines as well as help you to build trust. Having a high ranking in the search engines is important as the typical person will only search so far before making their choice. The social media portion is important in that it helps you to provide valuable information to your patients and potential patients, yet it also allows you to engage them on a more personal level, creating trust. Your competitors are likely already doing things like this and should you decide to ignore it, you are, without a doubt, falling further and further behind.

There are many modalities and complexities when it comes to Internet Marketing, least of which being Google's constant changes and tweaks to its algorithm. What you should realize, though, is the need to develop keywords and terms that specify your specialty and practice and build upon that. Secondly, engaging the public-at-large with info that is relevant to their needs and tying everything back together will position your practice as an authority.

This is accomplished by utilizing keywords and targeting them through correct use on your website and developing backlinks that lead to your site. Additionally, develop appropriate content and utilize social media to increase the exposure that your practice is receiving. This, however, must be done correctly and remain compliant with the terms of service of the search engines. Failure to do so can lead to diminished rankings and even a ban from the search engines. Can you afford that to happen to your practice?

In closing, here at IMAGINE, we have a group of experts ready to assist you in this area. We are committed to your success and the success of your internet marketing efforts. Feel free to contact me directly for more information on how IMAGINE can help develop the strategies that will work for you.




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