Changing Practices: Can Your Old Patients Find You?

Changing Practices. Rebuilding Your Webpresence.Changing medical practices?  How will your existing patients find you?

This is a common problem.  How do you quickly establish a web presence to convey your new practice information, location and contact information?

Here are 4 easy steps to quickly get you found on the Internet.

Buy Your Name as URL

Get indexed by Google, Bing and Yahoo by creating a webpage using your name as the URL.  Using a 3rd party domain registrar, such as GoDaddy.com or Bluehost.com, purchase your name.  If your name is taken, try some variations, such as;

  • JohnSmithMD.com
  • JohnASmithMD.com
  • DoctorJohnSmith.com

On your new site, create just 3 pages:  Home, About and Contact.  Make sure your name and address appear in the footer and in the title tag of the webpage.  Follow these steps to register and index your new site with Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Start a FaceBook and Google Plus Page

These two giants are going to war over local search.  Take advantage of the competition and start a page on each platform.  It’s free and both are natural places where your patients (or their children) will look for you.

Nothing fancy at this time.  Just get your contact information listed properly on each page.  You can be visible within just a few days!

Local Directories

“Google” yourself and find which local directories have your name listed.  Claim those sites and update with your new contact information.

Take advantage of the inherent SEO power of some of these sites.  For instance, healthgrades.com usually is listed fairly high on the SERP.  Find and update the information pertaining to your listing.

Do the same for other directory listings you find when you “Google” yourself.

Two other major platforms are Yelp and Angie’s list.  While these are great “review” sites, these are also popular arenas for your patients to search for you.

Update Societies and Associations

Update your contact information with your medical school, residency programs, state and local societies, board associations, etc.  Many of the local directories use these membership lists as sources for their databases.

Adwords

While Adwords may indeed seem appealing, we’ve been voting against these 4 line ad campaigns.  They are too ubiquitous and are often ignored (spam?).

We would suggest using them only after you’ve taken care of your organic search engines, local directories including Yelp and Angie’s list.

What Can You Expect?

Your goal is to update your contact information that is spread across the Internet and ASAP.  By starting a webpage with your own URL, you will soon be indexed by Google, Bing and Yahoo.  This may take a few weeks.

Use the ubiquity and SEO power of many of the review sites to allow your patients to find you.  Google Plus, Facebook, Yelp and Angie’s list are all quick ways to get the word out.

After a few weeks, your organic search should then round out the picture!

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization

www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

How to Convert Prospective Patients into Raving Fans

Converting prospective patients into paying patients should be a breeze if you have a system in place.  To help you with creating effective systems we created The Patient Attraction System TM.  This system is essentially a blueprint that allows anyone to run your medical practice without you being there to direct the show.  And more importantly, patient care is delivered in the exact same way, whether you are directing or someone else is directing.

There are essentially six systems that are integral to developing a brand and providing superior medical services.  There are of course many components to any system, but for illustration purposes let’s discuss one piece that serves as the cornerstone of the Patient Attraction System TM.

Step 1:  Prospective Patients

You have worked hard to engage with your community both on and off line, now those efforts are finally paying off.  Prospective patients are calling to schedule appointments with you.  The method that your staff engages with these calls can very well determine whether the prospective patient will actually follow through and trust you with their care.  So if you haven’t already, now is the time to have systems in place that will assure that all of your online efforts are not thwarted by the reception they receive when they first call your office.

Let’s start with how you handle incoming calls to your office.  What is your system?

Patient Attraction System TM:  The Initial Phone Call

How is the phone answered at your medical practice?   This seems like a pretty basic question, but after you have spent hours building your brand on and offline this is often an overlooked part of what can be a defining moment for a prospective patient.  Consider the following exchange and compare it to the intake system you have in place at your medical practice.

The First Step:  The Call

Hello, welcome to the Randall Wong Retina Eye Center, this is Amy, how may I assist you.”  Keep in mind the tone is warm, inviting and definitely with a smile.

What have we told our prospective patient?

The caller was greeted, she knows she dialed the correct number, she knows who she is talking to and she knows that “Amy” is not in a hurry and more importantly, that “Amy” wants to assist her.

Note:  Your receptionist/intake specialist, I prefer to use the term patient care representative,  should know how integral they are to the patient attraction process and should never be expected to rush through a phone call.  Think of it this way…are you running a factory or a patient centered medical practice.

The Second Step:  Intake Information

Now, the next step will hopefully lead to the caller scheduling an appointment.  At this point “Amy” will lead the caller through a questionnaire that was designed to put the caller at ease and gather essential information for the appointment.

The Third Step:  The Welcome Package

Once “Amy” has finished with her scripted intake questionnaire she will thank the patient and let the patient know that they should be receiving a welcome package within the next several days.

The Welcome package will have an assortment of materials, but the most important piece will be the business card with Amy’s information.  Amy will serve as the patient’s point of contact because a personal connection has already been established.  The patient will have a familiarity with “Amy” and will hopefully not hesitate to call should she have additional questions prior to her appointment.

Note:  How many receptionists, patient care representatives, or other staff members at your office are given business cards.  If you are like most offices, the answer is likely very few.  This is something I have never understood….give all of your staff members their own business cards.  Not only does this increase your exposure with each card that is handed out, but think of it from the employee’s perspective; i.e., the business card shows they are valued and have an important role in your medical practice.

The Fourth Step:  Confirm the Appointment by Postcard

Yes, there is a small cost associated with sending a postcard and a welcome package; however, the patient will surely remember the extra special measures that were taken to ensure a seamless first appointment.

Side note:  Many practices like to use their website for directions and contact information.  We believe using on-line and off-line measures to ensure your patient makes it to the office is worth the small expenditure.  Do the math yourself…is the office visit worth the two bucks you spent, and even less after factoring in the relative tax implications.

The Fifth Step:  Confirm the Appointment by Calling the Patient

This is very important; “Amy” will call the patient the day before to confirm the appointment and answer any last minute questions the patient may have.

So… What’s the System?

The system is the process that is used to assure that each patient has the same experience.  In the example that was used above, if you were to implement the five step intake process you would need to have a system in place that would track the completion of each step and automatically send reminders to the patient care representative to remind them of the next task needing to be completed.  This may sound like a lot of work, but once your system is in place you will have created a system that can be employed by anybody.

 

How do You Value Your Medical Practice?

How to Value Your Medical Practice

What math are you using to figure out the relative value of your medical practice?  If you are like most physicians you are probably using traditional methods to determine the value; i.e., revenue, profit and market conditions.  If this is the type of math you are using it is fairly safe to assume that you are focusing on the number of patient encounters you have each month.  This is fine if you are content with traditional valuing methods.  After all, this method is consistent with the traditional sales approach.  Generally speaking, the greater the number of sales, the greater your return on investment for that particular month, quarter or year.

But What if You Want More?

If you want more, then you will need to learn a new math.  Focusing on brand development will make traditional valuation methods worthless.  If you have created an online brand then you have likely carved out a niche within your particular practice area.  Therefore, your total net value is worth far more than the number of patient encounters you have on any given day.

Presumably, at some point, you will want to sell your medical practice.  The time to start planning for that day is now.

Have you Created a Brand for Your Medical Office?

Creating a brand requires a marketing strategy; however, once implemented you will find that your efforts have made your medical practice a valuable asset, one that cannot be measured by traditional valuation methods.

To determine whether you have successfully created a brand consider the following four questions:

  1. What does the market, your market, think about your medical practice?
  2. How, when and where is the market talking about you or your medical office?
  3. What is the experience the market has with your medical office?
  4. Is your brand dependent on you?

Keep in mind the fourth question is paramount.  If your brand is dependent on you then you haven’t created residual value.  Why?   Because the value cannot be replicated by a new owner.  So how do you create a brand in a medical practice that is not dependent on you, the physician?  After all, you are the one who ultimately renders the services.  The key is to develop systems.

An Online Marketing Strategy is Key to Increasing the Value of Your Medical Practice

If you are building your practice much the same way you would read a book or watch a movie, then you haven’t created systems; i.e.,  you have no idea of how the story will unfold.   Meaning if you have no idea of how or when you will sell your practice then you are passively engaging in the practice of medicine without a real plan.  You need to start creating your exit strategy now and it doesn’t matter whether you plan on retiring in 1 year, 5 years or 10 years.  The key is to start developing your marketing strategy now.

If you create a brand that allows any physician or group to simply take over where you left off then you will have created a valuable asset.  If you have incorporated online branding and reputation management then you will need to go beyond traditional accounting to recognize the full value of your medical practice.

Have you created systems to brand yourself? Have you created systems to measure your online efforts?   If so, please share in the comments so our community can gain through your experiences.

~Amy

The Power of Story: The Olympics and Your Blog

Hook your readers by telling as story just as ABC has with "up close and persona."The best part about the Olympics is the stories.  I love the personal stories of the athletes.  It captures my attention and gives me more reason to watch the actual competition.

The athletic feats are indeed spectacular, but having never been (nor close) to becoming an Olympian, I can only marvel at the athleticism, precision and technique…but I can’t really relate to the athletic side of these superstars having never been one myself.

The stories, however, are different.  They do make these superhumans more real and more tangible.

The stories are compelling, the sports are entertaining.

“Up Close and Personal”

ABC, from the genius of Roone Arledge, created the “Up Close and Personal” segments in the 1970′s.  These segments quickly became popular as we learned the human side of the Olympic athletes.  We learned about the personal journey, their trials and tribulations, the sacrifice…we learned that they, too, are just people.

The series is credited for turning the Olympics into Prime Time “must see” TV.  While not called “Up Close and Personal” on rival networks, the personalization of the athletes persists to these summer games.

Telling the personal stories of the athletes compels us to watch and learn more.  It gives us relevance as to who these athletes are as people and makes the outcome of the games more relevant as we are now cheering for individuals having how learned their “story.”

We want them to win.

Importance of  A Story

A story starts a relationship.  We learn about each other and how we compare human to human.  We learn more about how we are similar than how we are different.

Stories are much easier to be repeated.  Retelling including personal facts is more compelling than repeating the athletic achievments or professional accomplishments (in the case of a doctor) because, again, we can’t relate to being an Olympic athlete nor can patients relate to the achievements of a doctor.

Writing for Your Blog

Tell your story somewhere on your website.  The best place is to create an “About Me” page listing your credentials as a person…not your achievments as a doctor.

The more transparent your writing, the more compelling the story, that is, the more you reveal of yourself, the more interesting the story.

Suggestions include your hobbies, your goal with your medical practice, the type of medicine you practice, what makes you a great doctor, what makes you a great person, etc.

For the next two weeks, as you watch teh games on NBC, look for the stories.  Realize the powerful draw for  you personally…then emulate on your website.

It’s a powerful tool.  Showing that you are a person first and a doctor second.  Reach out to your patients as a person…