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

Your Website Should Be “Under Construction”

Medical marketing enterprises.  Every great website should be under constructionEvery great website should always be “under construction.”  Of the three types of sites;  resource, marketing and interactive, only the resource site is ever really finished.

And you know I’m not talking about web design.

Great websites must remain dynamic whether by adding a constant stream of great content or with user generated comment vis-a-vis threads and conversations.

Content Marketing is Best

Blogging, or content marketing, remains the most important marketing strategy for your medical practice or small business.  While many businesses promote their use of a social media marketing strategy, blogging remains #1 in terms of ROI, branding and value.

The success of content marketing can be easily measured.  Visitors, bounce rate, comments, click through rates are all metrics showing the likes and needs of your patients, your customers.

The expense of time spent on a social media campaign is less tangible perhaps only because social media efforts ultimately draw attention to a great website that is “under construction.”

Value, Dedication, Commitment

Your content provides your patients with value.  Your articles provide solutions (answers) to their health specific questions.  Moreover, your consistent writing also displays a level of dedication and commitment that sets you apart from your competitors.

Value is the key to any website, but by continued and consistant writing, your dedication and commitment turns you into an industry expert.

Your content also remains the key factor to obtaining great SEO…unmatched and immesurable with any social media campaign.

What Can You Do?

Develop a long range objectives for your practice, i.e. define your marketing goals.

Write articles consistently on topics related to your long range initiative (SEO best practice).

With time, your articles will begin to reach out to your patients, compelling them to write and leave comments.  Make sure to answer each of the comments in a timely manner, thus creating a dialogue.  This visible interaction and engagement is the heart and soul of a blog and will eclipse any social media based campaign with respect to ROI, branding and providing value to your patients.

Both content marketing and engaging your patients online present time challenges and require consistent and continued publications and responses.  

A great website, therefore, is never completed and, hence, is always “under construction.”

To Your Growth And Success!

Randy

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

www.MedicalMarketingEnterprises.com

I Bought a New Car

Meet patients online needs.I bought a new car last week.  This is not a post about buying a car, but there are some strong messages about online relationships.

I chose a 2013 Honda Crosstour, the dealer, and my salesperson before ever walking into a sales room.  I did it all online.

The Right Time to Buy

I haven’t had a brand new car since 1990.  My last 3 were previously owned.  I simply drove too much to justify the rapid depreciation costs of a new vehicle.

While two kids are already driving, we will have 3 more who will be of driving age in the next 18 months.  The car I just traded in wasn’t safe enough to keep around for any of them.

So, for a myriad of reasons it was time to buy.  As it was Christmas break, I didn’t want to waste precious vacation time.

Online Window Shopping

Through several auto sites (USAA, Edmunds, Autotrader) I expressed interest in the particular make and model; Crosstour V6, 2013.  In doing so, interested dealers in zip code made contact via email.

Within 24 hours I had received emails from 6 area dealerships.  I read the reviews of the dealerships.  I easily chose two finalists.

The others were disqualified for;

  • Deception:  gave me a quote for a 2012, not 2013.  No 2013’s even in stock.
  • No Quote:  wanted me to visit dealership first before giving me a quote
  • No Response: waited too long to email me or return emails
  • Poor After Market Service

“I Will Beat Any Deal You Receive”

The two “finalists” were quick to communicate and straightforward with answering my questions through emails, gave me a quote and showed some personal interest in meeting me.  They engaged me by accommodating my needs.

In his opening email, my eventual salesperson, “Ama,” even stated he’d” beat any offer” and gave a most competitive quote.  To me, this meant he was serious in wanting to meet me.

For the purpose of comparing, I visited both dealerships.  The first dealership just couldn’t beat the quote I received from Ama.  I drove across town and bought the car from Ama.

What Can You Learn?

Buying a car is a huge purchase.

It seems only too natural to start your search for a dealer and salesman online.  Price is a huge factor, but so is the personality of the sales team.  Are they willing to negotiate, or are they jerks?  Can I start a relationship with a specific person before entering the show room?

For me, there was great satisfaction in already knowing who I’d be dealing with upon my arrival, knowing he’d was anticipating my visit and that we’d already begun the negotiation.  I was also very happy that I was choosing a dealership endorsed by others.

Satisfied, I made the purchase.  I had found a dealership who takes online shopping seriously.  I met a salesman who understands that the online customer is likely to be very savvy about the purchase, but also, very serious about buying a car.

They met my needs.

Just as the dealership met my needs.  We, as doctors and health providers, need to meet our patients needs.  Most of America search first for questions about health providers online.  We need to provide information on our sites about our practice philosophy and who we are as people.

Just as I expect this about a car purchase, our patients, with their health on the “line,” expect to find us on the Internet, too.  Create websites with great content, educate and become transparent.

The car sales industry is changing, but really it’s the consumer, i.e. our patients.  I turned to the Internet for my car.  Doesn’t it make sense more would turn to the Internet for more important issues such as health?

Take them seriously, meet their needs and you’ll be greeting them in person when they walk through your office door.