Today’s patients aren’t using their phone to leave a voicemail filled with questions about your practice—they’re using their phone to do individual research and only making a phone call if it’s absolutely necessary. We live in a digital world, so isn’t it about time that how we find patients reflects that? In this article, you’ll find five online tactics you can use to appeal to today’s patients.
1. Clearly communicate which insurances your practice accepts.
Don’t wait until a patient calls to schedule an appointment to let potential patients know if you’re in-network. Instead, make in-network information easily accessible on your website.
According to a 2018 Scorpion survey, the most common type of search terms patients research when looking for a physician related to whether the doctor accepts their insurance (33% of respondents). Insurance-related search terms even beat out other common search terms patients used to search for a doctor, including the name of the treatment the patient needs (25% of respondents); the type of physician they’re looking for (17.6%); geographic location (13.7%); and symptoms (6.6%).
That’s not to say your other efforts aren’t changing the game. A survey from Software Advice, for example, shows that “nearly half (43%) of respondents would go out of their insurance network for a provider with favorable reviews.”
#2 Show patients who you are.
The number one way patients find doctors is through independent research, even with a referral from a healthcare provider, according to the 2020 Patient Access Journey Report from Kyruus. As it turns out, 92% of respondents said they always or sometimes did their own research to support a doctor’s referral recommendation.
So patients are searching for information about you, but what will they find?
You should already have the standard biography, resume and headshot for your providers on your practice’s website though they may need to be updated to reflect current providers, specialties and headshots.
Next, communicate the things that patients care about when looking for a physician. Clinical expertise and experience is only one part of what patients want to know before scheduling an appointment—they also want someone who is compassionate, is a good listener and views the patient-physician relationship as a partnership, according to the 2020 PatientPop survey.
The 2018 Scorpion survey reinforces this idea: 31.9% of respondents said they appreciated messaging conveying compassionate care. That’s not all—patients also wanted messaging related to professionalism (20.2% of respondents), cutting-edge technology (13.3%) and value/affordability (12.9%).
#3 Provide info where patients are looking for it.
Everyone is a patient at some point, so where do you search for physicians? Google is currently the number one place patients look when searching for physicians.
When asked which websites patients use for reading reviews of healthcare providers 72.9% of respondents said they use Google, per the PatientPop survey. Plus, the Software Advice survey concluded that Google reviews was the most popular website for physician reviews with 37% of respondents.
So, what can you do to improve? Make sure your Google profiles contain accurate information.
But that’s not all. According to the Kyruus survey, nearly 25% of patients start their physician search on their insurance company’s website—meaning your physician listing information needs to be accurate and complete on websites such as Healthgrades.com and Doctor.com.
That may sound like a to-do list item that's nice if you have the time, but it may be what’s holding you back from getting patients in the door. A Doctor.com survey found that half of patients will decide against scheduling with a provider if they have inaccurate or incomplete listing information online.
Make sure your information is available and accurate so you can obtain the new patients you need this year.
#4 Utilize online reviews.
Online reviews often feel like a double-edged sword and the truth is, they are.
The Software Advice survey found that 71% of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor, and 65% of patients regularly review sites. Patients in the Doctor.com survey ranked reviews as the most important factor in their doctor search, behind referrals. Even then, 88% of patients said they read online reviews about a provider they’d been referred to.
Many doctors are apprehensive about utilizing online reviews because they’re worried about what bad reviews could do to their practice, but they are a critical part of the choice their potential patients make to use your practice’s services.
Nearly 60% of patients will not consider a provider with anything less than an average 4-star rating, and Google searches that include the word “best” only returns results of businesses with a 4-star rating or better, according to the PatientPop survey.
Don’t stress just yet: the Software Advice survey found that only 1% of patients leave “very negative” feedback on reviews sites and only 10% leave “somewhat negative” reviews.
Now’s the time to stress a little: not only should you promote positive reviews, you should also respond to negative reviews. PatientPop found that when practices don’t respond publicly to negative online reviews, the rate of patient dissatisfaction goes up 276%.
Knowing about and responding to negative reviews can give you the chance to improve, especially in matters that aren’t related to clinical care. The majority of negative reviews PatientPop found addressed nonclinical factors such as provider’s demeanor, front desk or office staff, wait times, billing and location factors (e.g., parking or transportation to the appointment).
#5 Tout your convenience.
One of the most obvious convenience factors you can have as a practice is location. As it turns out, 83% of patients prefer to be near their care, according to a 2020 survey by JLL Healthcare.
Kyruus saw that 66% of people use location-based phrases like “doctor near me” when they inevitably search for providers on Google—but the Scorpion survey noted that almost half of patients consider going farther away for services if the facility has a better reputation or offers seemingly better care.
To combat the location issue, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, many practices rely on telehealth to offer more convenient ways to reach patients. Kyruus found that over 40% of consumers said offering virtual care visits is very or extremely important when choosing a provider.
Unfortunately, you can’t just offer a great location or telehealth. You have to tell your potential customers that you do by touting your convenience on the practice’s website.
Other conveniences could also be beneficial such as online scheduling capabilities, online bill pay and flexible payment options.
No matter what your online presence has been in the past, you can always improve something. Whether that’s a bio for a physician, showing patients which insurances you take, responding to negative reviews or showing off your convenience, you can be proactively improving your online presence and ultimately gain more patients.
What is Rivet?
Rivet is a reimbursement software that gives you the big picture of what’s going on in your practice with payer contracts, fee schedules, denials and underpayments. You can also check eligibility and provide accurate, transparent, up-front patient cost estimates before services are rendered. The Rivet team will help you aggregate your fee schedules and input your claims data to enable you to increase revenue and decrease AR days.
For more information about the tools Rivet provides, schedule a Rivet demo.