Young Ophthalmologists Addressed at AAO 2013

AAO 2013 New Orleans, LA, Young OphthalmologistsWe just returned from the American Academy of Ophthalmology 2013 in New Orleans, LA.  I had the privilege of participating in the Young Ophthalmologists program where a variety of professionals speak about various aspects of a young doctors’ career.

My message to the young ophthalmologists was understand the merits of  marketing, to engage patients digitally and to exhibit transparency.  The reason?  As AAO president Paul Sternberg, M.D. stressed….because we (ophthalmologists) must continue to adapt and understand the needs of our patients.

Understand Marketing vs. Advertising

Physicians must need to understand basic marketing.

Marketing is not advertising.  Marketing studies the needs and wants of your clients (patients) and provides a solution.

Modern patients want 3 things;

  1. Health information
  2. Doctors who engage digitally
  3. Doctors and Practices which display transparency

Health Information

More than 75% of Americans first venture to the web when looking for health information and looking for a doc.

Google ranks websites based upon the quality of the content of a website.

Doctors have a golden opportunity to provide quality health related content on their websites.  This content educates patients and is used as a fuel to gain high rankings…it’s a “win-win.”

Patients are looking for credible health related content and doctors get rewarded by getting their websites ranked.  Now the website becomes a powerful marketing tool to attract new patients!

Engage Digitally

Just as many offices offer convenience by having Saturday or evening hours, we must learn to understand the needs of our patients.  Patients expect to find fresh and relevant information on the web about their doctors.

There are different ways and levels to digitally engage patients.

At the very least, everyone should have a website.  If no website, your office basically doesn’t exist, even if the office location is across the street.

Doctors may choose to add content on their website.  “Content” would come in the form of articles which talk about health related issues.  Credible articles on health issues brings value to the website and the doctor.  With value, comes trust.

The most engaging types of websites are interactive blogs.  This is the most compelling type of website, has the best marketing potential and engages patients.  This public display of a “conversation” is the purest form of social media.

Personal Transparency

I often speak about the quest to find doctors who are people.  This may indeed be the modern “bedside” manner.  Through a well constructed web presence, a patient should be able to determine some basic elements about their doctors.

Memberships to elite organizations, diplomas from fancy schools, membership plaques, etc. usually adorn our office walls.  Unfortunately, these have little relevance to our patients.

Instead, young doctors must consider distinguishing themselves as who they are vs. what they are.  In my office and on my website, I often refer to my personal hobbies, interests and activities.  These personal attributes are much more relevant to any non-medical person.

Not to sure about sharing personal attributes?  Then consider sharing some of your practice philosophies.

Transparent Business

A medical practice is a small business.  Every small business, except for medical practices, operates transparently.

Review sites such as Yelp and Angie’s list are popular due to the relevance to the consumer.  Friendliness of staff, cleanliness of the office, ease of appointments, time spent with the doctor, etc. are all important factors when patients chose a doctor.

Every other business runs transparently.  Review sites for doctors are going to increase, not disappear.

Randall Wong, M.D.
Medical Marketing Enterprises, LLCSEO and Blogging for Professionals

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marketing the Concierge Medical Practice

Concierge medical practices must market.You’ve made the decision to become a concierge medical doctor.  Because you are now much more selective about your patient base (i.e. those who subscribe to you), you’ll need to get the word out about your new practice.

You need to market.

The challenge, as identified by Alan Horowitz at “The Profitable Practice”, is to sign up enough patients to sustain this new model.  Depending upon the size of the practice and your rate of conversion, the number of patients you must attract will vary.

The more patients who can find you, the faster the transition.

 

Before you get started with your marketing campaign, you must answer these 3 simple questions:

  1. What do you do?
  2. What makes you better?
  3. Who are you?

Provide Value (What you do)

With concierge medicine, you’ll need to provide value over and above the usual diagnosis, education and treatment of disease.  Treating disease is now expected.  What you do in addition to playing doctor is your value.

What do you do to provide value to your patients to merit the added expense of the concierge annual membership?

Do you have flexible office hours, more timely appointments, availability of doctors, have more specialists?  How about faster and guaranteed call back times, etc.?  Are you networked with other concierge practices locally?  nationally?

Part of marketing is understanding your patients’ needs.  Fulfill their needs and you’ll be providing value.

Branding (How you are better)

Branding is simply your reputation.  Your practice has a reputation for something.  Is it quality care, service with a smile, clean and comfortable waiting rooms, computerized medical records, the best staff?

However you distinguish yourself from your competition is your brand, or your reputation.

Transparency (Who you are)

More than ever, your new patients will require you exhibit some personal transparency.  While not exactly your bedside manner, personal transparency does involve revealing a bit of your personality.

Patients are looking for people who are doctors.  Are you willing to share who you are as a person?

Transparency can also mean your approach to medicine and your new practice…and you should be willing to discuss.

How to Market Your Concierge Practice

1.  External Marketing:  You must have a website.  Critical to the success of your marketing plans is the presence of an up-to-date, relevant website.  It should contain enough information so that a prospective patient can find your answers the the 3 questions above.  If you don’t have a website, you don’t exist.

The About Us page should answer the questions about the goal of the practice and how you are different than other similar practices.  The “About Me” page should be more personal, listing a few of your achievements, but also likes, dislikes and hobbies.

Your website will serve as both a reference and powerful marketing tool once it starts to rank with Google, Bing and Yahoo.

2.  Internal Marketing:  Take advantage of patients already familiar with you.  Email and/or hard-paper newsletters are great way to internally market your new changes.  Communicate to your existing patients how your practice will be changing.  Keep them up to date, they may not sign on immediately, may never, but may likely tell someone else!

3.  Maintain Communication -  This should be a gradual but continual process.  Implementing your new communication and marketing strategy won’t happen over night.  Your goal should be to slowly transition your practice from traditional to concierge.

Keep your website fresh with new information about the practice so that a prospective patient doesn’t really need to interview…they just have to read.  Offer the chance to subscribe to your website and newsletter with a subscription box.  This “opt-in” keeps them interested in your practice news.

Make your newsletters relevant and consistent.  Keep your existing patients and email subscribers current with news and events of the office.

You’ll maintain the website for those searching for you on Google and you’ll maintain the newsletter for those who already know you.

To your success!

 

Randy

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

www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

Create an Email List for Your Blog

OptinYou need an email list.  An email list is an easy way to stay in touch with your patients and with those who follow your website.  These are people who are  your “fans.”  Email newsletters are an easy way to keep them abreast of news of the practice, medicine and new posts on your blog.

It can help you develop your brand.

Sending email newsletters inform your closest followers news about your practice.  Make it easy for your biggest fans to know what’s happening!

Maintaining an email newsletter is easy, completely automated and cheap (free).

Why Do You Need an Email List

Permission based communication.  By giving you their email address, you have permission to communicate with them.  For many, this is a tighter and more meaningful bond/relationship compared to Twitter and Facebook where many of your patients never visit.

Ownership.  You own this list.  You’ve collected addresses via an opt-in subscription box or a generated a list during a patient encounter (you should be collecting email addresses as part of your initial intake encounter, that is, when a new patient is visiting for the first time).  Unlike social media platforms where changes in policy could cause you to lose access to  your followers, you’ll always have this list.

Everyone Uses Email.  It’s an easy way to communicate news of the office and to keep your readers current on your blog.  They don’t have to visit your site or figure out how RSS works, let alone what it means.

Email doesn’t disappear.  Unlike FB or Twitter where your message likely gets missed or buried.

Highly targeted List.  This list is composed of patients and readers interested in what you have to say.  Let them keep up to date with events of your office and blog as easily as possible.

Email Lists are Fully Automated

Creating an email list is easy.  The whole process can be completely automated;

1.  Collect Email Address:  This is the standard “subscription” box you see on most sites.  Your reader has the ability “opt-in” to receive your emails.  This is a crucial step to avoiding liability for spamming.  The best is a double “opt-in” process.

After completing the subscription box, an email is sent to confirm and verify the reader’s desire to receive future emails from you.  This two step process is called a double “opt-in.”

That’s it.  You have a new subscriber!

2.  Send Email Notification:  Each and every time you write a post, you’re entire email list gets notified via email!  Best of all, it’s done automatically!  Every blog automatically generates an RSS feed every time a new post is published on your site.

NOTE:  RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a digital announcement of your new post and contains all the basic information about your new publication.  Many people follow websites by subscribing to the RSS feed.

For your purposes, the RSS feed automatically fills in information about your new article on your email newsletter.  No extra work!

Next Post:  Email Services:  Feedburner, aWeber and MailChimp

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization
www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

 

3 Types of Websites: Which is Yours?

3 Types of Websites, all must be created on WordPress.Your website can only be a:  a resource site, a marketing tool or an interactive website.  Which is yours?  As long as your site is built on a flexible platform, it doesn’t matter.

Good – Resource Site

Of the doctors who do have site, most have this type of site.  A resource site contains basic contact information, an about page, insurance participation, hours of operation, etc.  A resource site is not dynamic.  A resource site rarely has content or needs to updated.

A resource site, therefore, has absolutely no marketing value.  Without fresh content, it becomes impossible for this site to become ranked on Google.  No content, no rankings and no visibility.

The only people who visit your website are already familiar with you, that is, your existing patients.

Better – Website as Marketing Tool

A website becomes a marketing tool when it starts to rank highly in SERP (Google results).  Patients search on Google and your webpage becomes visible on the results pages.  Patients click on your site.  Your site is now marketing your practice!

To rise in Google rankings, your website must regularly get updated with relevant content.  This is the principle behind content marketing.  Search engines compare webpages based upon the content.

Websites of this type are dynamic, receiving  fresh new relevant content to the website on a regular basis.  This is the only way to get your website to attain and maintain high rankings.

Best – Interactive Tool

A website can be a dynamic interactive tool for your practice.  It has the same rudimentary contact information as a resource site and is full of relevant content….but it also displays conversations, or threads, between you and your next prospective patient.

This is the basis of social media.

Your articles will gain you exposure in terms of traffic and rankings.  Your willingness to publicly “talk” with your readers on your website is the most compelling component of a blog…the purest form of social media.  It will set you apart from your competitors.

Finding others with the same problems becomes magnetic and provides you with a golden opportunity to show compassion and your “bedside manner.”  Exhibiting this type of transparency builds value and trust.

This is how a website brings patients to your door.

What Can You Do?

Remember to march at your own pace.  No need to be overwhelmed.

Every modern website should be constructed as a blog and the best framework is WordPress.org.  In this way, you can start off with a resource site and add functionality only when you are ready….and it won’t cost anything extra!  A simple resource site gets the ball rolling and does demonstrate to your patients that you are willing to engage the Internet.

With time, you may want to add content.  This will elevate you in the rankings and start to market your practice.  Later on, start to interact with your readers by answering comments and questions.

By using WordPress.org, you can add functions when you are ready and it doesn’t cost anything to increase your function.  All CMS (Content Management System) programs have all of this functionality built in…you just use it when you are ready.  There is no hurry.  Starting out on the most versatile framework in the world…Wordpress.org.

Static sites offer only design….cant’ do this.

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization
www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

Google Plus: Lots to “Like”

Google Plus and Author Rank, Medical Marketing Enterprises.There are 3 reasons to use Google Plus.  After starting your Facebook, I recommend starting your Google Plus Account.

Your Google + account will now get you noticed on a Google Places, can aggregate any reviews about your practice (from other sites other than Google), selectively share information via Circles with new and old colleagues and starts your Author Ranking!

Google Local and Business Page

Starting a Google + Business page simply requires a free Gmail email address.  Follow the directions to get your practice indexed on Google +.

As Facebook and Google Plus plan their local search strategies, you want to make sure either you create your business page or claim one which already exists.  Simply make sure your contact information is correct.  With time, you can add more information.

Google Circles: Selective Sharing

A unique feature of Google + are the “circles.”  Circles are different groups of people based upon a common interest or relationship, for example, Friends, Family, Business, etc.

This allows you to pick and choose the group of friends with whom you’d like to share information. You can use “circles” to customize your communications….you can tailor who you’d simply like to follow versus people you’d like to share information.

At the outset, Circles are the same as “Friends” on FaceBook, but Friends lack the ability to share vs. follow and sharing may not reach all of your followers. (Facebook does not share all of your posts with all of your followers).

Circles allows  you to wear several hats yet use the same account.

Author Rank

Author Rank is the newest variable introduced last summer for SEO.  Simply put, author rank, measures your expertise and contribution to the Internet on any particular subject.  How your Author Rank is computed is another post.  The greater your Author Rank, the more credible and trusted you are as an expert.

The higher your PageRank, the higher your rankings.  Now, the better your Author Rank and PageRank, the higher your rankings.

This means two articles with very similar content, i.e. with the same PageRank, will now be ranked differently based upon Author Rank…the article written by the author with the highest rank (i.e. trust and credibility) wins!

Google Authorship via Google Plus Profile

Establish your Google Authorship!  The next goal is to inform Google which is/are your website(s).  Uniting your Google Plus profile with your particular website(s) alerts Google of your Authorship.

In your Google Plus profile, list the website(s) to which you contribute.  In your websites, attach the code to your Google Plus profile.  This is most easily done by creating a hyperlink using your name as anchor text back to your Google Plus profile page, or make sure you are using Genesis on WordPress!

WordPress and Genesis

The newest version of Genesis recognizes author rank and allows you to marry your user profile with your Google + profile by simply entering your profile code into your WordPress user profile….done!

To your Success!

Randall V. Wong, M.D.
Medical Website Optimization
www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com