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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Feel” of Your Office: Replicate it on Your Website

How does your medical practice feel?  The way a prospective client reacts to this question, more often than not, is reflective of the marketing practices/business models they employ.  A traditional model is focused on the physician and his or her professional accolades.

In a traditional business model the “feel” of a practice is typically not addressed; whereas, in a progressive business model it is an integral part of the marketing strategy.  Which model do you think would most likely resonate with a prospective patient?  To develop a strategy that redefines the experience from the patient’s perspective you have to know where you are starting from.  What is your current environment?

Technical Skills Are Expected, Differentiation Comes from Communication

Today, relationships define our success or lack thereof.  Technical skills are expected, the differentiation comes from the communication/bed side manner we have with our patients and staff members.  The input-output economic model reflects the interdependency of the relationship between the two variables.

“It’s not what you say.  It’s how you say it!”

If we look at practice management from a holistic perspective, we realize all of our communications affect our end product and, in turn, directly influence patient engagement.  The old adage, “It’s not what you say, It’s how you say it” certainly reflects the importance of modeling the behavior you want replicated.

This can be especially hard for physicians and attorneys.  Our training instills in us the need to filter out extraneous information and formulate questions that will provide us with the data we need to diagnose and treat.  We are taught to look at the problem, not the individual who comes to us with the problem.

As a result, once we feel we have figured out the problem we tend to tune out or, worse, we fail to tune in at the onset because we decided no real data was being provided.   The problem with this approach is that the extraneous information is what makes the relationship real and sometimes important information is meshed in with the extraneous information.

So what is the environment of your practice?  What are your communication styles?  In essence, how does your practice feel?  As mentioned before, you need to know this information before you set-out to develop an on-line presence.  To get a feel for your office you will want to look at both the direct/concrete communications taking place; as well as the subtle non-descript overtones that encompass the office atmosphere.

We recommend you begin this process by first observing how your staff members interact with you, their colleagues, and most importantly your patients.

Consider the following:

Experiment #1

Leave your office door open and listen to the interactions taking place.  Ideally this would take place at several different times throughout the day.  How are your staff members communicating with each other?  What is the tone of their voice?  How do they speak with your patients?  How do they speak to you?

Experiment #2

Focus on the non-verbal communication styles being used.   Walk through the office and pretend you can’t hear anything.  Observe your office staff?  What does their body language say?  When you approach, are they receptive or do they look apprehensive?

Experiment #3

How are your patients communicating with one another, with staff members, and with you?  What does their body language tell you?

Once you have made your observations you should be able to get a pretty realistic “feel” for your practice.  With this information you can now develop your branding strategy which you will use to develop your on-line presence.

 

5 Reasons Why Your Website Should Be a Blog

Medical Websites Use Blogs to Optimize Web Performance

Your medical practice should have a medical blog, not a website, but a blog.  The modern “blog” has maintained all the features of the former, yet obsolete, webpage, but has unique advantages that best suits it for optimizing your website’s SEO and ranking your pages.

Here are 5 reasons why a Blog should be your choice for a medical Website

1.  Blogs are Cost Effective

Chances are that if you have a website, it hasn’t been updated in a few years.  Every update costs the practice money and noone really understands the ROI (return on investment).

Blogs are about $10/month including hosting!

Blogs are much cheaper than hiring a website developer to make updates.  Plus, re-designing the site isn’t going to improve rankings at all.  It’ll be a waste of more money.

Even if you are a do-it-yourselfer, purchasing HTML generators such as “FrontPage” or Dreamweaver can be much more expensive than blog software.

Blogging software is free.

While we recommend WordPress.org, most larger content management systems are free.

Most hosting companys, including GoDaddy.com and BlueHost.com, will install WordPress on your hosting plan…with the click of a button.

2.  Blogs are Server Based

Server based programs, such as blogs, can be accessed from any Internet connection in the world.  This means they are convenient and easily accessible.  It’s convenient to make changes and post new content, or articles, to your medical blog.  You can do it from your home, office, local cafe, etc.

Ease of use, convenience and accessibility ensure you can follow my 3 R’s of good SEO;

The 3 R’s of good medical SEO are;

  • Relevant Content
  • Refreshed Webpage
  • Regularly Updated

 

3.  Blog Software Designed for SEO and Search Engine Bots

Blogging software, especially WordPress, is designed to be search engine friendly.  The websites created with WordPress are indexed efficiently by the search engine robots.

Well written content (the human part) is just half of good SEO.  You want to publish your material on a site designed to be SEO friendly.  Wordpress is terrific.

On top of WordPress, I recommend taking one step further.  Use “Genesis” or “Thesis” frameworks (these are specific WordPress software packages) to really make SEO a snap for the user.

SEO friendly for the robots and ease of use for you!

4.  Customizable and Professional Turnkey Themes

With the popularity of blogs, web design has become turnkey (you do it yourself with a click).  No more hiring web-designers as hundreds of dollars per hour!  Downloading a theme and installing is so easy…a doctor could do it (look at me!).

Most themes available for WordPress are free of charge.  They are completely customizable so that your “blog” can look and act like your “website.”

Two popular frameworks, best suited for SEO, are Genesis and Thesis.  I switched to the Genesis theme structure because of the 40 or so child themes that provide the design for the site.

Turnkey web design allows you to also change your theme, or look, as easily and as often as you want…and usually it’s free.

Remember, the design of your site has no value to achieving high search engine rankings.  Only your SEO maximized content can get your website in the “top ten.”

5.  Blogs are the Purest form of Social Media

Because of the ability to leave a comment, and hence, start a conversation, blogs are the purest form of social media.  Having a blog makes a clear statement that your practice is willing to engage and attract your patients.

The ability to engage into a conversation will set your practice, and your doctors, apart from your conversation.  Remember, it’s not what you are, but it’s who you are!

To your success!

 

How To Write and Publish Your First Post on WordPress

Writing your first post in WordPress is pretty easy. This post will walk you through the steps and screens that you need to start your very first post!!

The Dashboard

1.  After logging in to the administration panel of your web site.  You should see the following screen, if not, click on the Dashboard link as highlighted.

Wordpress Dashboard, Publishing First WordPress Post, Medical SEO, Medical Marketing Enterprises

Adding a New Post to WordPress.org

Locate and click on “Posts.”

It is also located in the left column of your screen.   When comfortable….click on “Posts” and the link should expand.

Publishing Your First Post on WordPress, Medical Marketing Enterprises, Medical SEO

Click on “Add New” which should now be located just below “Posts.”

 

Add New Post on WordPress, Medical Marketing Enterprises, Medical SEO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing, Saving and Publish on WordPress

Your page should now look like the screenshot below. Click on the appropriate areas to add your title and content of your article. It is as simple as using any word processor. If you want to save your work without publishing it, click “Save Draft.” “Publish” will put your new post on the Internet!

Remember, you can always edit or remove posts and pages on WordPress at a later time!!

Add New Post to WordPress, Medical Marketing Enterprises