Why doctors need a strong online presence

Introduction

If you are a doctor and have a practice then you should know that patients can’t schedule an appointment with you, if they don’t know about you. As a business owner, you need to be where your potential patients are most likely to find you and in today’s day and age, it means that you need to be online. 

doctor online presence
source: inc.com

It is common knowledge that a doctor’s online presence plays a very crucial role in attracting new patients. The strength of a doctor’s online presence determines the choice of provider for a majority of people in today’s increasingly net-savvy world. A doctor’s online presence is further important because it lays the foundation stone for a trusting relationship between the doctor and his or her patients. Additionally, since it allows patients an avenue to engage with the doctor’s practice, a personal link is formed. 

Why a strong online presence is a must for doctors

Even though many doctors get new patients as a result of being a part of a healthcare network or through referrals, it is increasingly important for doctors to have a solid online presence. Even though patients eventually meet doctors in person, their search for the right doctor begins on the internet. 

That’s why an online presence for doctors is so important. People often chose one provider over another because of a stronger online presence. It is the same across all demographics and all age groups and averaged 60 and up use the internet for health-related searches.

An overwhelming majority of these people will look for a new provider if they find negative online ratings about the first provider. Even doctors who rely on referrals need to maintain an online presence as studies show that 81 percent of patients read reviews even after they’ve been referred to a doctor. 

Patients today expect a seamless customer journey and doctors should come good on the expectations of their potential patients or they run the high risk of being left behind their counterparts. 

Even though doctors primarily rely on face-to-face interactions to build a rapport with their patients, it is need of the hour for all doctors to maintain a solid online presence to attract new patients and retain the existing ones. If there are negative reviews with a malicious intent harming your business, then to deal with them you can hire the services of a professional or personal reputation management company.

Here’s how an online presence can improve the patients’ health

The health of your patients depends on a lot of factors. Most prominent among them is their ability to trust you, along with the level of access they have to the tools and information that they need. When you have a robust online presence, you can help your patients with such things. Here’s how.

  1. Information:– A lot of patients want to partner with their providers when it comes to making healthcare decisions. This is important as involved patients have better chances of being treated well. When you have a solid online presence you can easily share medical information with your patients through blogs, newsletters or even an online health library. This empowers patients to make well-informed decisions about their health and encourages better dialogue between doctors and patients. 
  2. Social proof:– When you have a solid online presence, it becomes easy for you to develop a human connection with your patients. You can leverage this same connection by encouraging reviews and feedback from patients and then displaying such feedback in the form of testimonials on your website as well as social media. When you have reviews on your site or the sites that you control, there is a lesser chance of people searching for you on review sites, which you don’t control and which may have negative reviews. It is imperative that you do so because if you have a negative online reputation it prevents more than 60% of patients in engaging further with you. If you have negative reviews on review sites that are hurting your business, then to deal with them you can hire the services of an online reputation management company
  3. Convenience:– When you have a solid online presence, it gets easier for you to satisfy your patients. If your website features in the top organic rankings on search engines, it will be easy for patients to find it and gain access to all the information relevant to you and your practice. On the contrary, websites which are relegated to pages other than the first page, remain invisible to an overwhelming majority of searchers. Once a visitor reaches your website, it becomes easy for him or her to schedule an appointment, which saves time and effort for both parties concerned. Since customer service is the dealbreaker for most patients, you should ensure that your website has avenues to handle customer service requests.
Here’s how you can improve your online presence 

If you haven’t already build a solid online presence for your business, then its high time that you do so now. In other cases, if you have built a presence and it is not as impressive as you’d like it to be then there are some things that you can do to strengthen your online reputation. In this part, we will gloss over some of the things that you can do to achieve your goals. 

Apps:– People in today’s day and age are increasingly using the internet to access information about healthcare. Since more half of the world’s population has smartphones and most time on smartphones is spent on apps, it makes sense to increase your online reach with the help of an app. Here are some of the apps that you can try.

  • First Opinion:– This app is the gig economy’s answer for medical advice. It is a very effective app where patients just type in their queries and the query is then matched with a doctor who responds within 5 minutes. Through the first opinion, doctor chat doctors attend to the health issues being faced by the patients. It is a very effective way for doctors to get substantial exposure through the first opinion app review. However, it is pretty difficult to get yourself enrolled as a doctor in this app, as only 1 out of 10 doctors who apply are accepted. 
  • ZocDoc:- This app is totally free and it makes it very easy for patients to find verified patient reviews. This app further facilitates the booking of appointments online. Thus, one way of strengthening yor reputation and gaining new patients can be listing your practice on this app.

Those two were just examples of the apps that you can use to strengthen your reputation and expand your exposure. There might be other apps of a similar nature in different parts of the world with enhanced features, that you can use for the furtherance of your business goals. Your aim should be to always keep an eye out for apps that are relevant to your industry, niche, and specialty. This is because you need to be where your potential patients are, and more people are on their smartphones than they have ever been before. 

Other ways to boost your online presence 

Over and above apps, there are many different ways in which you can strengthen your online reputation and expand your online exposure. In this part, we will gloss over the different ways to increase your exposure.

  • Compelling website:– A user-friendly, engaging and compelling website is more important than what is realized by most people, including and especially doctors. It is a very effective tool that you can use to build relationships with potential patients and strengthen relationships with existing patients. Even if you are part of a large medical group and don’t have much control over the group’s website, you can always make a personal website. You should get a professionally built website, optimized to the best SEO practices. The website should eye-catching and informative and must display your philosophy, specialty, experience, expertise, areas of focus, including and especially the charitable organizations that you support.
  • Blog:– Starting a blog can be a very effective way of strengthening your online presence. Publishing informative and relevant blogs on your website has a lot of benefits. It not only improves your site’s rankings in search engines, it also establishes your position as an authority in your field. Regularly publishing informative blogs is a good way of ensuring that you have a healthy legion of readers who await your next blog. This builds trust and comprehensively strengthens your reputation. If and when you publish blogs relating to the common problems being faced by potential patients, you offer value to them and in the long-run, you’ll reap a lot of rewards for your hard work. 
  • Claim your profiles on review sites:– It is common knowledge that an overwhelming majority of people read reviews to support their decision of choosing a service provider or buying certain products. The same holds true for doctors and people read reviews even if they have been referred to that particular doctor by someone. Given how important reviews are, it is imperative that you claim your profiles on review sites. Once you have claimed your profile on a review site, you need to fill it up with the correct information. You need to make sure that your information is consistent across all such review sites. Further, you can customize the information to showcase yourself and your practice in the best possible light.
  • Accurate local business listings:– Along with claiming your profiles on review sites, you also should claim your local business listings. Then you need to fill them up with complete, accurate and detailed information. Just like review sites, here too, you should maintain consistency in the information in all of your local business listings. This is because if there is inconsistent or incomplete information on different local business listings, potential patients will form a negative opinion of your practice. 
  • Social media posts:– Most people use the internet for social networking and thus it is important for you to be where you are most likely to find potential patients. This is where social media comes into the picture. Some of the popular social media platforms of our times have memberships in hundreds of millions and even billions, and you need to leverage the power of social media for the furtherance of your business goals. One way of doing so can be social media posts. You need to get active on social media and promote yourself and practice through posts, tweets, and even videos. In your posts, you can give something valuable to the patients, which entices them to keep coming back for more. You can use trending topics relevant to your specialty to post content which has the ability to get high levels of engagement and shareability. Through posts and videos, you can also discuss the conditions you treat as well as offer general medical advice to your clients. This will not only strengthen your online reputation but will also establish you as an authority in your field, whose word is respected by the majority of social media users. 

The Bottom Line

In today’s day and age, patients are very digitally aware and have access to extensive-health related information. Further, they are spoilt for choice on some occasions as they have an overwhelming number of options to choose from. Even though patients meet face-to-face with doctors for their health-related issues, they begin looking for doctors or health care providers, on the internet. There has been a definite change with how people are looking for healthcare services and the same is likely to continue well in the future. Hence, for doctors and other healthcare practitioners, it is imperative to have a solid online presence in today’s day and age. The aforementioned tips and tricks will definitely help you in establishing a robust online presence for yourself and your practice. 

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