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The Solutionreach Blog

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January 26, 2015

14 Rules for a Popular Practice Website

An easy guide to impressing search engines and patients


Marketing Monday Header Image



Let’s cut straight to the chase: You need a practice website, and–in order for that website to drive new-patient generation–people have to like it.

But the hurdles involved with creating a website that works can be daunting, and especially overwhelming for someone who doesn’t write marketing content or design websites for a living. That’s (probably) you.

Since this is an unavoidable need in the 21st century business model, however, you can’t let your uncertainty stop you: You have to do it, and you have to do it right.

Let’s face the obstacles head-on. First, I’m going to break down the bumps you’ll face along the road of website management.

Then, of course, I’ll give you simple tricks on how you can dodge them.


Obstacle #1. People can be so dang hard to make happy.

We’re picky. You have to captivate us. Entertain us. Assuming we like what we see when we first land on a page, the content on the page then has to keep our attention.

Browsers want quick results, and they don’t want to think or try that hard to get them. If your site is difficult to read, understand, or navigate, they’ll go somewhere else before you can say “bifurcation.”

Obstacle #2. Search engines care if you’re popular.

Search engines (like Google, Bing, etc.) are getting smarter, and they rate your site on how pleased your browsers seem to be when they visit your page. The more ‘popular’ the search engine think you are, the higher up on the list your website will appear.

For example: If a patient types in, “doctor in Milwaukee”, the search engine they are using will decide if your page should pop up first, second, or 37th. If Google sees that people land on your website and then leave immediately, it sees your page as less valuable than if people stick around for a few minutes.

Obstacle #3: You specialize in keeping people healthy.

...not creating and managing websites. The frustrating aspect of this obstacle is pretty obvious.



Don’t fret. Stick to a few simple guidelines (14 rules, to be precise), and those judgemental search engines will give you the cred–and the page ranking–you deserve.


Rules for Creating a Crowd Pleasing Website

Below are some basic rules to follow when creating a website that will win the hearts of search engines and prospective patients alike. The rules are made up of 3 main concepts:

Grab Their Attention
Don’t Make Them Work for It
Give Them What They Want

*Note that, even if you have a web specialist create the site for you, these rules can be used as a checklist when evaluating the quality of what you’ve been given.


Rule #1…

(keep reading)

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Tagged Topics: Generating Patients | Tips & Best Practices

January 20, 2015

3 Ways to Use Patient Surveys

Ask and ye shall receive!

Have you been using automated surveys to evaluate your patient satisfaction, or are you still a survey skeptic? Are you not yet convinced that patient surveys and the feedback you get from them are effective, reliable, or even useful? Do you feel like they are too time-consuming to be worth the hassle?

Some concerns about surveys may be legitimate, but there are tricks that will make patient surveys as simple as they are valuable.

It goes without saying that asking someone for their opinion shows, at the very least, that you care about what they think. Reaching out to your patients to get feedback on their experience in your office shows them–and the community–that you’re interested in quality-of-care as well as your patients as individuals. It also demonstrates that you are continually looking for ways to improve your practice and the patient experience you provide.

In order to retain your patients and consistently acquire new ones, it is critical to make sure your patients feel appreciated and satisfied. The best way to ensure the highest level of patient satisfaction is to ask questions.

You likely understand that the feedback you get from surveys is just a glimpse at how your patients feel about you and your staff. What you do with that feedback is what will have the biggest impact on your practice. Use the feedback to:

  • Plan improvement projects

  • Set goals for your practice quarterly, yearly, etc. in order to continue taking your service to a new level and ensure maximum productivity and profitability

  • Recognize the superstars in your office who always guarantee that things run efficiently and smoothly

  • Benchmark success by comparing surveys from the next quarter/year/etc.

Although your goals and improvements stem from the ways your practice can stand to improve, don’t forget to celebrate success along the way! While your improvement projects will focus on areas of weakness, make sure you also celebrate the ways your team members go above and beyond the call of duty. Perhaps you could incorporate special staff recognition awards, or even highlight your small but significant successes in your quarterly newsletter for your patients to see and acknowledge.

Here are 3 simple tricks to maximize the effectiveness of your patient surveys and bring your practice to new heights:

(Keep Reading)

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Tagged Topics: Generating Patients | Newsletters & Patient Education | Patient Relationships | Patient Surveys | Social Media | Tips & Best Practices

January 19, 2015

Marketing Monday: Social Media Apologies 101 (Part #2)

Turn negative patient reviews into positive practice marketing.

Welcome back!

Last Monday, we started discussing how to handle those oh-so-sensitive disgruntled patients when they’ve taken their complaints to the field: that is, on social media.

Everyone can see how you’re handling it, and your approach can mean the difference between terrible publicity and an excellent marketing opportunity.

If you haven’t read Part #1 of Social Media Apologies 101, you can find it here.

We pick back up with…

Lesson #3: Saying the Right Things

Hand draw star-rating

I know, I know; this is the scary part. What do you say? How do you word it? What should you definitely NOT say?

Here are a few tips for what to say–or not say–in your public apology.

  1. DO call out the positives. Most bad star-based ratings include at least one thought that can be considered positive, so bring attention to those aspects before addressing the negative ones.

  2. DON’T make excuses, but DO tell them that a negative experience isn’t typical.

  3. DO apologize. It seems obvious, but it can be easy to respond to reviews without actually saying that you’re sorry.

  4. DON’T argue with them. Even if their complaint is ridiculous, even if it was a complete misunderstanding, even if they are blatantly lying, do not negate their feelings by getting defensive.

  5. DO personalize the response. If character restrictions only allow for you to use their name, that can be good enough. However, if you are responding to a review site like Yelp!, you have a bit more room to show that you remember the patient and care about the relationship you share with them. If possible, mention something positive about their visit or refer to a detail that is unique to them.

  6. DON’T use too many expletives. Often, when we are trying to convey a feeling, we use too many words to describe them. Especially when you’re trying to keep it short and sweet, go through and consolidate your sentences to get right to the point.

  7. DO tell them that you’ll be reaching out privately. It will reassure them, but it will also show prospective patients that you aren’t all talk. If you don’t have the information you need to get in touch with them, ask for it in your public response.

Remember: If all else fails, just be sincere.

Lesson #4: Resolve Privately

(Keep Reading)

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Tagged Topics: Online Reputation Management | Tips & Best Practices

January 12, 2015

Marketing Monday: Social Media Apologies 101 (Part #1)

How to turn negative patient reviews into positive practice marketing.

Marketing is about more than perfectly placed advertisements. It consists of more than simply strategic SEO. Maintaining an online presence involves a hefty amount of back-and-forth, and a disgruntled patient just happens to be one of these occasions.

An unhappy patient can be typing up a storm on a site of their choosing before they even get to their car, venting their opinion to anyone that happens upon it.

One ticked-off patient isn’t your biggest problem, in this situation. Unaddressed, just a few marked words can wreak havoc on your online reputation.

Unless, that is, you know how to handle them.

Small animal holding an I'm Sorry sign


Apologizing on social media: A necessary evil

Apologizing isn’t always pleasant, but showing penitence via social media can be especially difficult. I know, because I’ve had to do it. You don’t want to seem defensive, but you don’t want to admit guilt. You don’t want to argue, but you are just so angry.

Online complaints will impact your ability to market your practice, but the effect doesn’t have to be negative.  Here are a couple of reasons you have to buck up, swallow your pride, and humbly address the complaint anyway.

Minimize damage.
If you leave negative reviews or posts alone, it leads viewers to assume that you don’t care. You don’t care enough to respond, so you certainly don’t care enough to fix it. Studies show that 4 out of 5 consumers will revise their purchasing decision after looking at reviews, so it’s important to convey the right message by taking online complaints seriously.


You can use them to your advantage.
Sure, negative reviews can carry a big punch. But! What can carry an even bigger punch is a review that has been properly responded to. In fact, consumers are more likely to choose a service that has had negative reviews than they are to select one with a perfect score.

Responding to negative reviews shows that, not only are you paying attention, but you care enough to change. This small act tells prospects that you are a provider that is truly invested in your patients’ happiness.


Social media apologies are a delicate art.
Social media apologies can be made much simpler, less frightening, and more effective when you use the right techniques. Whether you have to use them only once in your lifetime or on a few dozen occasions, taking a quick lesson will serve you well.

Lesson #1: Don’t Hide It

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
It may seem counterproductive to sit back and allow people to badmouth you, but keep in mind that people expect bad reviews. A business that has only positive reviews looks suspect: Are they deleting posts? Are they real reviews? 

Don’t wake the beast.
When a bad review pops up, having it removed is one of the worst things you can do. Disgruntled patients are already on edge, and the best way to make them even more ticked off is to try and silence them.

Lesson #2: Apologize Publicly, First

Make a public apology
When you make a social media apology, it’s important to make sure that as many viewers see it as possible. Responding privately destroys the ability to use the negative comment as positive PR.

If you’re apologizing on Twitter, put the patient’s username AFTER your first word, (i.e., Thank you for your feedback, @exampleusername. We….) so that the most people see your response as possible.

On Facebook, be sure to tag the user to increase visibility.

Know your limits.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter demand that you speak concisely and convincingly. Twitter won’t let you post extra characters, but even Facebook will limit the amount that people see. You want viewers to see the important part right away, so omit unnecessary words and let the patient know that you’ll be reaching out to them privately.

Lesson #3: Say the Right Things

(...)

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Tagged Topics: Online Reputation Management | Tips & Best Practices

January 8, 2015

Share the Wealth

..and let us add to yours!

Silent doctor with bandaids covering his mouth

If you aren’t the kind of person who likes to talk up their own success, here’s a bit of incentive to spread the word about the solutions you’ve found with Solutionreach: Solutionreach Referral Rewards.

Here’s why you should start gabbing:

Solutionreach will pay you $500 every time you refer someone to Solutionreach.

It gets better. Your 10th referral is worth $2000.

So…if you refer 10 people, you’ve just made $6500.

 


So go on. Let us pay you to tell your friends why you love Solutionreach.

Dog with big ear listening carefully

Talk about how Solutionreach will keep their schedule full, put an end to infuriating no-shows, and streamline their practice productivity.

Tell them about our huge library of pre-written newsletter articles and professionally designed templates.

Spread the word about our new patient-facing mobile application that improves collections and makes it simple to stay connected with your patients.

And definitely let them know that every service we offer is included: unlimited messaging, emails, voice calls, a patient portal… you name it.

To get the details about the Solutionreach Referral Rewards program, check out the webpage.

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Tagged Topics: Solutionreach News

December 16, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

A Viral Social Media Success

Slacktivism or genius marketing? Does ‘liking’, ‘tweeting’ or ‘sharing’ really demonstrate true interest in supporting a worthy cause?

Regardless of your opinion, statistics show that these actions, along with the healthy competitiveness of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, ignited enough curiosity about the off-the-wall worldwide idea to inspire further action.

The results couldn’t be disputed: 2.4 million Ice Bucket Challenge videos, 28 million likes, and over $100 million later, the goal to raise awareness about a disease that—in the last 75 years—hadn’t seen a cure or any real advancements, was achieved.

“One of the reasons social media is an integral part of many people’s lives is that it allows people to participate and feel connected. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge appealed to so many because it engaged and connected people. In a social media culture obsessed with selfies, contributing content on the internet, and making connections online, engaging in a challenge for a cause seems natural.”

Read here to find out why utilizing social media to promote a cause works and some tips and strategies you can implement to get the word out about what you are passionate about.

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Tagged Topics: Social Media | Success Stories

December 15, 2014

Marketing Monday: Facebook is Changing (Again)

What you need to know about the upcoming crack-down on promotional Facebook posts

Just when we think we have a handle on Facebook’s latest changes, they decide to change things up again. In the typical fashion, it’s time for another switch: Come January, 2015, reaching people who have ‘liked’ your Facebook page will get even more difficult. 

Facebook is changing

Before I explain the changes, let’s make sure you understand the FB lingo:

Engagement: In the Facebook world, ‘engagement’ refers to how people are interacting with the posts they see from you. ‘Liking’ your post, commenting on your post, sharing your post, or clicking on your link all qualify as ‘engaging’ with you.

Reach: When I refer to the ‘reach’ of your posts, I mean how many people actually see your post. Due to the way that Facebook determines what we see in our news feeds, not everyone who has ‘liked’ your page will see whatever you post.

Organic Posts: If you are just writing on your Facebook page and not paying to promote an ad, it is considered ‘organic.’

Facebook Ads: You can create an ad for Facebook that will increase your post’s visibility. When you use the Facebook Ads creation tool, you can include images, links, and a limited amount of text. You can even include tracking links to see how many people are going to your website. When you create an ad, you set a budget and Facebook stops promoting your ad when your budget has been exhausted. You are also able to set parameters for your audience based on quite a few criteria, so that you make sure you’re maximizing the success of your promoted post.

You may see Facebook ask you if you want to ‘boost’ or ‘promote’ a post you have already put on your Facebook page. Boosting a post is basically like creating an ad, without using the Ad creation tool.


So what’s changing?

Facebook is already pretty picky about how many of your organic posts will show up in the newsfeed for people who’ve liked your page. Typical reach is about 6%, but it can be much lower if no one is engaging with what you are posting.

Once January hits, you’ll have to pay even more attention.

Facebook surveyed their users and found that we are much more interested in ‘story’ type posts than promotional ones (go figure.) Because of this new insight, they will now be cracking down on organic posts that they consider ‘too promotional.’ 

In case you skimmed that last part, here is an important thing to remember: the new regulations only apply to organic posts. If you’re paying to promote your posts, they won’t be affected.

How do these changes affect you?

I’ve always told practices that the best way to use your Facebook is to connect with patients on a personal level. Fortunately, if you’re using Facebook the way you should be using Facebook, you’re not the type of small business owner that will be overly affected. Still, it’s important to know what is happening in Facebook land.

Why?
As you (hopefully) know, social media is a very valuable tool for engaging your patients. Since the majority of people connect with each other through sites like Facebook, finding and interacting with your patients on these sites is a smart idea. The more connected they are to you, the more likely they will be to stay active/current with their visits and the less likely they will be to switch to a new provider when the opportunity presents itself.

Plus, Facebook can be a great tool for marketing your practice.

If you don’t pay attention to the success of your Facebook posts, you are missing an enormous opportunity to maintain and grow an active, loyal patient base.


What you need to know about ‘promotional’ posts

So you need to crack down on how promotional your posts are. Here are the qualities that Facebook has deemed too salesy.

  1. A post that tries to convince people to buy a product. This includes services or programs that you offer, if you include text that insinuates something like ‘Click the link to buy now.’

  2. A post that tries to convince viewers to enter promotions with little context surrounding it. The rules surrounding this are still a bit hazy, so just make sure that—if you are encouraging people to enter some sort of contest—you add plenty of supporting text to the post promoting it.

  3. A post that uses the same text as one of your paid ads. Keep organic posts unique.


So what should you be posting?

(click Read More to keep reading)

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Tagged Topics: Social Media | Tips & Best Practices

December 8, 2014

Showing up ‘On-the-Line’

5 steps to saving your practice through your online presence

I recently spent some time with a practice that was failing. Really, truly failing.

The failure had come as a shock to the doctor; his practice had been remarkably profitable for nearly 25 years. He was deeply loved by his patients. He had excellent bedside manner. He took great care to spend time getting to know and engage with his patients while they were in the office. He sent out Christmas and birthday cards.

Piggy bank with bandages

The problem wasn’t that he was losing loyalty from the patients he already had. It boiled down to this: As normal attrition started to decrease his existing patient base, he wasn’t generating enough new ones to make up the difference. 

As a result, (and right as he was approaching retirement age, no less), his practice was suffering so severely that he had to work harder than ever just to keep it afloat. Not only could he not retire, he was forced to foreclose on his home because all of his money was going into the practice.

So why had this previously successful practice suddenly become so desperate for a solution to getting new patients in the door?

The Explanation

I’ll give you a hint:  It’s the same thing that has quite literally transformed the way we spend our days over the last decade. To steal a phrase from this doctor… His practice wasn’t showing up ‘on the line.’ 

That is, he had absolutely no web presence.

Why did he have to be ‘on the line’?

Let’s look at how you used to generate new patients.

Maybe you sent out a quarterly mailer or even sprung for a bigger section in the Yellow Pages. Regardless, you relied on word-of-mouth and referrals to keep new patients walking in the door.

But business has changed. If you sit around hoping that your patients will tell their friends and then those friends will keep your phone ringing, you’re going to see the same sort of attrition to your patient base that the practice I was working with had been suffering from.

Don’t referrals count anymore?

Robot holding a sign that says Here's A Referral

Referrals have always been the most powerful form of new business, but they now come with a caveat: We don’t just take our neighbor’s word for it. They tell us how great their doctor is, give us the phone number, and we say we will call. But do we? Not until we Google them. Even the internet dummies are smart enough to know that they need to do a few searches before making a decision.

Basically, if prospective patients don’t find anything when they google the name of you or your practice, they aren’t going to schedule an appointment even if you come highly recommended.

The Un-Referred

How are prospective patients that haven’t been given a referral finding a provider?

With a few clicks of the keyboard, or even just a voice request to Google or Siri, they are jumping online and searching for a provider in their area.

In fact, the importance of an online presence has increased greatly just in the last year. A recent study from Opticall analyzed data regarding the sources of new appointments from January to December in 2013. ‘Internet Sources’ was just as strong of a lead motivator as ‘word of mouth/referral.’

‘Cyber-stalking’ providers isn’t just about doing our due-diligence. We simply don’t find things the way we used to anymore: We don’t use phone books, we don’t just pop into the practice on the corner, and we don’t pay attention to the junk mail solicitations (which, let’s face it, is what your mailers would be considered.)

We use technology to look up and evaluate our options.

So how are they going to find you, if you aren’t showing up the only place they look?

Getting ‘on the line’

This was the problem for the office I started working with: Patients weren’t finding his practice when they looked online, even if they already knew his name.

50 yard line to play on being 'on the line'

When I told him that this was the problem, his shoulders slumped. He isn’t the youngest doc on the block. He could barely figure out how to perform his own search result, let alone comprehend how to make his name show up on other people’s searches.

Fortunately, I told him, getting your name on the web isn’t really that big of a deal.

There are a lot of small steps you can take, but we started with the basics. After just a few hours, he had created his own little place on the web. Within the month, he began generating new patients—some from referrals that checked out his practice website before calling, and some that were just the stray patient that needed a doctor and called on good ‘ol Google.

I’ll discuss the following tips in more detail one at a time in my Marketing Monday tips, but even this high level overview can give you the direction you need to get off and rolling.

Identifying the problem

I’d venture to tell you that, even if you do show up online, you will still benefit by revisiting and improving your online strategy every once in a while. This is a good time to start.

Do a good search for providers in your area. If you’re a dentist, try something like “best dentist in chicago” or “great ohio dentist.” If you aren’t someone that performs many google searches, ask people around you what they would search for if they were looking for a provider and then use that phrase.

Where do you show up? Do you show up?

5 Basic Steps for Establishing your Online Presence

(click to read more)

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Tagged Topics: Tips & Best Practices

December 2, 2014

3 Key Benefits to Automated Appointment Reminders

Carpool, parent volunteer time, soccer games, dance classes, boy scouts, late night runs for those last minute school project items (this happens WAY more than it should)...  It’s hard not to want to pull your hair out just thinking about it!

Time is scarce and sanity can become limited on occasion, affecting our ability to keep up with what should probably be a lot higher on our priority list: Our health. Keeping track of when our kids, (or ourselves, for that matter) are due for regular continuing care appointments can often fall to the back of our minds.

Unfortunately, the feeling that there is too little time in the day is not an uncommon one; it’s likely that your patients suffer from it, too. With the technological advances that have been made in the healthcare industry, there is almost no excuse for forgetting to schedule or showing up for your family’s upcoming healthcare appointments.

 

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Tagged Topics: Electronic Messaging | Patient Engagement | Patient Relationships | Recare & Patient Reactivation | Tips & Best Practices

November 20, 2014

Grant Your Wishes ASAP

If you had 3 wishes for your practice, what would they be?

You can probably think of more than 3 things you wish you could change or improve about your practice, but—in case nothing comes immediately to mind—let us make a couple guesses:

Wish #1: Increase my revenue!

No hesitation on this one. Everyone wants mo’ money!

Sure, everyone would like to see an increase in revenue within their practice. But what does it take to achieve this goal? You got it: keeping your schedule full.

Having a full schedule is a good feeling. Unfortunately, life happens and last minute openings will occur. A patient’s memory may fail them, a family emergency may arise, or an appointment may just simply need to be rescheduled. There’s not much you can do about a no-show, but trying to fill a last minute cancellation can be just as stressful.

Stay tuned—we have a solution!

Wish #2: Save me time (and effort!)

How about filling those empty appointment slots, so you can stop wasting time (and losing revenue) on last minute cancellations…without having to frantically call every patient on your wait list?

You know the drill; a patient calls to cancel the day of their appointment, maybe less than an hour before they were scheduled. What do you do now? If you’re like many practices,  you grab your wait list, pick up the phone, and begin calling patient after patient until you (hopefully) fill the empty slot before that appointment time has passed. If the appointment is 30 minutes or an hour from now, you may need a little luck to fill it in time.

Keep reading—your wishes will soon be granted!

 

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Tagged Topics: Electronic Messaging | Patient Engagement | Tips & Best Practices

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