Too many healthcare marketers have decided to exclude seniors as a target audience for their digital marketing efforts, however as time goes on, this will prove to be a huge oversight.
It is always surprising how common it is that an office has not implemented patient engagement technology because the majority of their patients are in the elderly category. Although this theoretically sounds like it makes sense–after all, they did grow up in the age of traditional advertising–the elderly are actually incredibly receptive to digital communication.
It’s not surprising that the generation that has been raised on technology is so intuitive to the advances made every day, particularly with regard to changes made to the way they communicate with the people in their lives. Younger generations are extremely quick to embrace, learn, and incorporate new innovations. They are savvy with engaging their social and familial circles in the ways that are popular and prominent.
Although later generations may not have been raised digitally, statistics show that a large majority of this demographic understands the need to join the digital revolution. Now more than ever, the elderly are engaging in this way more often than healthcare providers seem to recognize.
Research suggests that the majority of the senior community are engaging digitally, but–for those who aren’t– why not? Most likely, this is due to ignorance or inexperience. As their healthcare provider (probably the most important person in their life), it would be wise, as well as appreciated, if you were to take their hand, and pull them into the 21st century by educating them on how to engage in a digital world. Then, they too can experience the benefits of this type of communication and engagement. Perhaps, this demographic is most in need and deserving of the efficiencies and conveniences technology offers with regard to communication in healthcare.
What do the statistics show?
Fun fact: YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world.
Why is this important, you might ask?
Right now, YouTube is one of the best platforms for a healthcare practice to gain additional exposure and increase search engine optimization–two things that matter a lot if you’re trying to grow (or even maintain) the success of your practice.
Just to keep everyone up to speed, search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the rank of your online material in search results, with the goal being to get on the first page of the results. This is done by trying to direct more traffic to that material; the amount of time a website or piece of material has existed can be a factor as well. The longer a site has been around combined with the amount of traffic that site receives increases its ranking, making it easier to find.
Want to know the best news? (Keep Reading to find out)
“We like the personal touch of phone calls.”
Here is the real-life problem with this statement: Just how personal is leaving a message on someone’s voicemail?
If you want to connect with, engage, and retain your patients (while successfully competing in your market so you have a practice to run in the future,) it’s time to come into the 21st century and embrace technology.
Today, more healthcare providers are realizing how critical it is to the long-term survival of their practice that they begin to automate patient outreach like appointment reminders and recare notifications. The benefits of this type of technology are obvious: Intuitive automation saves serious amounts of time every day, and society’s shift to digital communication makes it a more practical method of effectively getting in touch with them.
But, despite the obvious advantages, many practices still object to using automation technology to communicate with their patients for one main reason: They don’t want to lose the ‘personal touch.’ What they don’t understand is that this technology can be used to make their communication more personal. Additionally, freeing up staff time gives them the ability to focus on patients while they are in your office, too.
If you still aren’t using high-tech tools to communicate with your patients, there are two big game-changers that you need to know about:
Running an independent medical practice isn’t what it used to be. Thanks to shrinking reimbursements, increasingly complex regulations, and a near constant commitment to actually running the entire operation, a number of physicians are selling their practices to hospitals.
There’s an irony to this trend, because lack of patient demand isn’t the issue — there’s a huge shortage of primary care providers. It’s the challenge of practicing medicine while running a successful business that turns so many away from independent practice.
This problem is particularly bad for solo and small practices, because there are less physicians share the business responsibilities. To succeed you need to grow. Like any business problem, growth can be accomplished with the application of effective strategies. And as luck would have it for physicians seeking a better work-life balance, several of these particular strategies detail methods for being more efficient, which should result in more free time.
#1 Embrace Collaboration
Although it may seem contradictory to independent physicians clinging to their autonomy, collaboration is the main way practices of all sizes survive. Collaboration can take several forms, but joining an Independent Physician Association (IPA) makes the most sense from a business perspective.
In most cases, joining an IPA means becoming a service provider for an organization that’s separate from your practice. This can increase your local or regional referral network, but more importantly it joins you to an organization with greater negotiating power.
Now instead of simply taking or leaving what insurance providers dole out, you’ll be able to enjoy better negotiated reimbursement rates.
IPAs can also offer independent practitioners technology advantages that would otherwise be out of reach. For example, these organizations gather and analyze a tremendous amount of data on population health that can be wielded to minimize the costs associated with treating high-risk patients with chronic conditions.
Becoming a member isn’t free, but it’s one of the most feasible means to access better reimbursement schedules and superior technology.
Why is education through patient outreach important?
As a healthcare provider, staying connected to your patients in between visits is critical for building your patient relationships. Additionally, keeping your patients educated on their health and engaged in between visits will increase loyalty and improve outcomes. Patients who see you as a valued source for information pertaining to their health or the health of their families will not only stay more engaged with their health, but they will also stay more engaged with you and your practice.
How do you educate through your patient outreach?
For this week’s Marketing Monday, we present our very own Ron Hartley (from Solutionreach!) He joined Mike DeVries earlier this month for the Doctors Business Management Show podcast in an episode titled, What’s Your Internal Marketing Strategy?
In this episode, Mike DeVries & Co-Host, Ben Lane, visit with Ron to discuss the benefits of online marketing strategies for medical and dental practices. As a bonus, Ron was surprised when he was handed a guitar and given an impromptu request for a little serenade. Mike likes to keep his shows as entertaining as they are insightful!
(Click image to follow link)
Listen in. It will teach you a thing or two about how to use patient engagement to better market your practice.
You can also visit the MD Management website to learn more about how Mike DeVries helps doctors “mind their own business.”
Bringing your patients back into your practice (often known as recare, recall, or outreach) is one of the most important things you do–both for the benefit of the patients’ health and for the wellbeing of your business.
It’s why Recare / Recall is one of the most loved features of the Solutionreach service. It relieves staff members of a significant amount of manual outreach, and it delivers incredible (visible) ROI.
Solutionreach users, get ready for today’s Solutionreach 411!
You should already have your recare settings configured in a way that best meets the needs of your practice (if you don’t, call or email us!) But what about once patients have passed the point of receiving automated recare messages? What about the patients who need extra special attention? Solutionreach can help with that, too!
Below are a couple of quick ways that you can use the platform to dig down and spend some extra effort on the patients that have fallen too far off the grid.
This just in: The moderators in the Battle for the First Page just upped the stakes.
Google has announced that mobile-friendliness will soon play a bigger role in how a web page ranks in search results; the less mobile-friendly your page, the lower your site will rank.
Have you ever landed on a web page that wasn’t optimized for the device you were using? If the answer is yes (and I imagine it is,) you understand the reason behind the change. Google is essentially forcing us to make our websites more enjoyable to look at, no matter what device we are using. No more scrolling aimlessly and squinting to read text that doesn’t really fit onto your screen? It’s a great idea.
It makes sense; Google wants to make browsers happy. Since a growing majority of online searches are done from mobile devices, presenting them with a mobile-friendly list of results is more likely to give them a pleasant searching experience.
Browser-focused initiatives like these are why Google has such a lead on the search engine market, and their status as reigning champions is the reason you need to step back and evaluate what the change in ranking standards means for you.
Or rather, for your practice.
As an every-day Internet user, the changes to the pagerank algorithms will have a positive effect on your browsing experience. As a small business owner, however, they will mean dire consequences if your practice website isn’t meeting mobile friendly user requirements.
The implications for marketing your practice through online searches are potentially severe. Everything in the SEO strategy that you should have for your practice revolves around getting your website onto the first page of results; when prospective patients type the criteria into the search box, you want your practice website to be the first thing they see.
But whether you’ve made it to the top page ranking (by generating great content, creating engaging pages, collecting reviews, and even being active in social media,) or you’re still clawing to get there, you now must also take a look at how your website performs on mobile devices.
No matter how grand your website, if it doesn’t comply with mobile requirements, your visibility will suffer–if not disappear altogether.
Perhaps you were victim to the record breaking snowfall that the North East has been experiencing this winter season, or maybe a family emergency is to blame for a sudden inability to get into the office that day.
Solutionreach users: Never fear! Today’s tip is how to contact your patients quickly and easily in the event that something prevents you from keeping your day’s appointments.
Using Solutionreach to send a group message is a quick and easy way to reach out to a large number of patients in the midst of an emergency and inform them on rescheduling their appointment. The best part is, you can do this from the comfort of your own home!
Here is a quick step-by-step for making the most of Solutionreach group messaging capabilities:
Patient retention is critical to the life blood of your practice, but just as important, if not more, is being able to consistently acquire new patients to continue to grow and maintain a healthy patient base. Word-of-mouth is universally agreed on as the most effective way to gain new patient referrals, and hopefully you’re taking advantage of the role social media can play on the growth of your practice, but what other possible avenues or marketing strategies have you tried for acquiring new patients? Are you running out of ideas?
Statistics suggest that 85% of patients enjoy receiving and reading their patient newsletter. If you’re not sending patient newsletters to your patients in between visits, you are overlooking a very valuable tool to connect and communicate with them and may want to consider actively utilizing this approach. In fact, it is actually a very effective way to foster stronger relationships, increase loyalty and obtain quality patient referrals.
Branding with Newsletters
If you are thoughtful about the information you include in your patient newsletters, they can actually be a great tool for branding your practice as the experts in the area. The more you customize and personalize the content of your newsletters, incorporating facts and information relevant to trending health concerns or benefits, the more valuable a resource your newsletters will be and the less likely your patients will be to pass up reading them every month.
By engaging your patients through newsletters, you also ensure that: