Independent healthcare practices have been facing conditions that make it challenging to thrive: increased competition, decreasing reimbursements, and shifting patient preferences, not to mention an ongoing pandemic.
In the effort to balance patient care and business operations, some practices are relying on proven healthcare marketing ideas to help fuel their success. When done right, the positive effects — improved business, less stress — can be significant.
Dr. Jeffrey McAlister, DPM, FACFAS is a PatientPop customer who runs Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute, a podiatry practice with locations in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. Here we discuss three ideas in his marketing strategy that help his practice keep up with trends in healthcare.
1. Search engine optimization (SEO) and a high-performing website
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the top healthcare marketing trends for good reason. PatientPop research indicates that three out of four patients have turned to the internet when searching for a new healthcare provider. If your practice doesn’t appear at the top of search results for your specialty, you risk missing out on prospective patients who simply aren’t aware of your practice.
Improving your search results ranking requires a concerted effort and a dedicated focus on tactics such as:
- Identifying the right search keywords for your practice and including them throughout your website.
- Adding informative content to your site that answers patients’ most-asked questions.
- Claiming and optimizing your practice listings on sites like Google, Yelp, WebMD and others.
For Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute, competition is fierce. Dr. McAlister acknowledges that most patients looking for a podiatrist are likely to choose a practice that shows up near the top of the first page of search results.
That’s why SEO has been a top marketing strategy for the practice, leading them to achieve 33 number-one rankings for organic keywords related to podiatry.
Additionally, by optimizing its Google My Business profile, Phoenix Foot & Ankle Institute improves its chances to show up more often in the local pack for ‘best podiatrist’ searches — and has done so for both their Phoenix and Scottsdale locations. By bringing together multiple tactics, including an active blog, comprehensive website content, and a commitment to proven SEO strategies, the practice enjoys greater overall visibility in their area.
2. Online reputation management
Once a practice secures strong online visibility, the next marketing strategy is critical: Offer information that helps influence patients to book an appointment. The most trusted information for patients comes in the form of online reviews.
Online reviews are today’s word-of-mouth, helping prospective patients understand the type of experience they can expect, if they choose a practice. It’s an aspect of patient decision-making that has enormous impact, with 74 percent of patients saying positive online reviews are very or extremely important when choosing a provider.
For practices with few to no online reviews or, even worse, a low star rating, your odds of landing more new patients are slim to none.
While providers may think they have little control over their online reputation, there are many proven tactics to help boost review volume and frequency. Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute deploys automated patient satisfaction surveys to establish a patient-provider feedback loop that drives more online reviews. In fact, since joining PatientPop, the practice has received 539 total patient reviews (and counting!) and has doubled their number of reviews in just the past year. Both offices boast a 4.9 average star rating on their Google business profile, giving prospective patients an assurance they’ll receive exceptional care and a great experience at either location.
To skim new reviews and keep tabs on his practice’s Google star rating, Dr. McAlister uses the PatientPop mobile app — one of his favorite things about the PatientPop platform.
“When I’m done with my day, I like to look back and see how many testimonials have come through,” he says. “I see comments about our great office or great staff, and that positive feedback reminds me why I’m doing this and that feels good.”
That positive feedback has become an increasingly important driver of practice growth, with data showing that today’s patients are more discerning than ever. In our recent survey, 69 percent of patients said they won’t consider a provider with an average star rating lower than 4.0. One in five will only consider providers with a minimum rating of 4.5 stars.
3. Using prominent calls-to-action to capture patient leads
To convert practice website visitors into new patients, or simply engage with more prospective patients, offering the right call-to-action (CTA) is a key marketing strategy.
Offering patients online scheduling is the most effective way to convert, and satisfy that patient looking to see a podiatrist. Online scheduling is one of the current trends in healthcare that is here to stay.
For Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute, encouraging patients to use online scheduling is a real practice differentiator.
“When someone is Googling at 9 pm about ankle arthritis or bunion pain and they want to make an appointment for tomorrow, if your practice isn’t offering online scheduling, they’ll just move onto the next doc,” says Dr. McAlister. “This is one of the many reasons PatientPop is worth the investment for us.”
Phoenix Foot and Ankle attracts an average of 116 new patients per month and boasts a 9.4 percent average conversion rate on their practice website. This means more new patients and stronger practice growth over time.
To capture information from those not yet ready to schedule a visit, you can encourage visitors to sign up for an email newsletter from your practice or to follow you on social media.
Tracking for long-term podiatry practice success
Like most PatientPop customers, Phoenix Foot and Ankle Institute checks their practice growth dashboard frequently — tracking key performance indicators such as new patient appointments, online reputation insights, SEO metrics, website traffic, and much more. By understanding these practice growth insights on a weekly or even daily basis, practices can gauge the effectiveness of their marketing strategy and adjust for any bumps in the road that could hinder long-term growth.