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Why should I care about my online effectiveness?

Increasingly what we’re seeing is people turning to online sources to find doctors. Studies have found that 3 out of 4 patients look for healthcare professionals online instead of other sources, such as word of mouth or insurance directories. We’re seeing this huge possibility of capitalizing on a really strong online presence to do a couple of things:

  • Get more new patients into your office
    • Represent yourself on sites that patients are already going to.
      • Review sites (Yelp), social media (Facebook), doctor directories (BetterDoctor), and more!
  • Improve general patient experience
    • Keep existing patients coming back in.
  • Stand out from the crowd
    • If you’re selling a service in today’s world, that service can be replaced very easily by someone who does it cheaper, better, and faster. But if you’re selling an experience — a complete package — that’s unique to you. Having a strong online presence can help create that experience and keep your patients coming back to you for years and years to come.

You have to solidify around that “why?” If you decide to take the leap and really build out your online presence these 3 things are going to happen for you in a really big way.

If you’re onboard with getting new patients, improving your patients’ experience, and standing out from the crowd, what we’re going to show you today will help you get started on your journey.

When we say “increasing your online effectiveness,” where are we doing that?

We’re going to go into a little bit of depth into a number of sources. We’re going to dip our toes in a number of different opportunities so you can see how big the opportunity is out there.

  • Website
    • Most people think “Oh, great! I have a website. Check. I’m done.” But in order for it to be effective, you really have to understand how that website plays into the patient journey. Are you really doing all the things on that website that patients expect from you, such that you can streamline not only your business operations, but the patient experience?
  • Review Sites
    • There are tons of review sites out there. Yelp, Google, HealthGrade, Yellow Pages. There are so many of them! Are you representing yourself? Are you managing yourself and your presence on those websites?
  • Social Media
    • Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogging. There are so many social media sites that you can be on. What are the essential things that you should be doing on social media?
  • Doctor Directories
    • VSP, Eyemed, BetterDoctor. There are both insurance directories and third party directories. Are you on them? Are you getting patients from them right now?
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
    • The big buzzword that gets thrown around a lot, but it actually is very important. We’re going to show you a little bit how you can tweak your own and investigate your own today to see if you’re doing a good job with it.
  • Online Advertising
    • PPC, Display, Advertorials. There are so many ways that if you want to have more patients come into your office, you can do so by reaching out online through online advertising.
  • And More!
    • Forums, Ask a Doctor, Telemedicine, WebMD. There are so many outlets online that you can really be taking advantage of to increase the number of patients you see and to improve the experience all around.

Now that we know “where,” let’s start diving into this a little bit more.

Let’s go into the “How?”

Your Website: What do patients expect to do or see?

A lot of people get this wrong in a really big way. Through our own in-house research and surveys around the industry, these are the basic things that patients want to do or see on a website:

  • Easily book an appointment
    • That means some kind of online scheduling system. There are a lot of different ones on the market that you can look at, including one through 4PatientCare. Find one that you’re really comfortable with and roll with it!
    • Over 50% of patients online are trying to book at times that practices aren’t even open. You’re missing out on all of these opportunities to have patients take action right in the moment and book an appointment.
  • Office hours, contact info, address
    • But they’re not looking for it buried deep, three pages into your website. They’re looking for it on the first page — easily accessible.
  • Ask a question easily
    • With well-designed websites, that’s just a form on the front page. A little “contact us” form or “ask a question” form, they fill it out and it goes directly to your email where you can reply back very quickly.
  • Re-order contacts
    • In general, they’re looking for an online store where they can order directly from you.
  • Answer the question “Do you accept insurance?”
    • A lot of doctors don’t have a page on their website that lists out the insurances they accept.
  • Services offered
    • They want to know if the service that they want is actually offered at your location.
  • Social proof
    • Reviews from patients, patient testimonials, social media links.
    • Anything that will indicate to them that you’re awesome and they actually should come and see you.
  • Other clues
    • Pictures of the doctors that work at your location.
    • Pictures of your storefront, pictures of your glass cabinets to make sure that you have a wide variety of selections .
    • Pictures of your front desk to see that the front desk staff are nice.
    • Pictures of your equipment and interior areas.
    • Overall professional design.

Who would you rather do business with?

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This should become immediately apparent, right? Family Vision Care and Therapy might be lovely people, they might have lovely doctors. But you immediately look at that website and you think “I’m probably not going to use them.” A totally different feeling when you look at the website on the left and you think “Of course I’d do business with them!” The difference is striking and makes a huge difference in potential patients’ decision.

Resources:

Maybe you already do all these things extremely well and if you do, congratulations! But if you don’t, how do you get to where you need to be? There are a couple of options.

You can do it yourself.

There are a lot of great, really easy website builders out there that are pretty cookie-cutter; you can do it yourself. You can log on and you put the elements into the correct spaces and you’re ready to go.

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If you don’t want to do it yourself, — if you’re kind of a technophobe — that’s okay! You have to play to your strengths.

You can hire a web designer.

There are tons of great web designers out there. There are websites like Upwork and Peopleperhour that let you find freelancers that are very good at what they do. You can work with those freelancers, either per hour or per project. They’ll give you a quote for how much it will cost and turn your vision for your website into reality.

*Note: 4 Patient Care also has a web designer on staff. If you’re interested, let us know!*

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There are also full web packages specifically for eye care.

If you just want a group that knows eye care and will deliver you a website like a snap of the fingers based on what they know and what they feel is a great template, there are a couple options out there: EyeCare Pro, IMatrix, among many others. There are tons that you can find.

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So that’s a quick look at what you should be doing on your website and how you can get there. But there are other areas of the web that you need to focus on too besides your own website. So once you’ve taken care of your own website…

Review Sites: How Do You Take Control?

A very popular site that many patients are trying to find doctors on is Yelp. There are all sorts of things that you can be doing to optimize your Yelp page including:

  • Post pictures
  • Post videos
  • Make sure info is correct
    • Office hours, business information, etc.
  • Respond to reviews
    • One of the most powerful things that you can do on your own is, not only sit back and look at the wonderful four and five star reviews and pat yourself on the back, but when you see that somebody has a problem with you on your Yelp page, you can respond to that problem. Often times how you respond to it will really color how people perceive you. If you respond well to it, a one star review can actually work in your favor because people will be able to see that you are someone who really cares. You’re willing to go the extra mile.

One thing to point out that most practices don’t do on their Yelp pages yet is to add the “schedule an appointment” button. It gives you the ability to drive action on your page. The patient lands on your page, they see that you’re great, and they can book an appointment right there online. It does require you to contact Yelp and there are some fees associated to this button, which is why often times people don’t do it. But a lot of practices are seeing a return by paying the fee and having the button there because it’s just so easy to get patients right off of Yelp.

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Social Media: Make Your Presence Known (and Actionable)

Something similar you can do on your Facebook page is have a “book now” button and, unlike Yelp, it’s completely free. If you don’t have a Facebook page you absolutely should get one because almost all of your patients are on Facebook and it’s a great way to connect with them. Of course, there is also the option to hire someone to run your Facebook page. If you do decide to run it yourself, many of the same rules apply:

  • Have nice pictures
  • Make sure your business information is correct
  • Make sure your hours are correct
  • Make sure that your page is actionable
    • A “book now” button so the patient can go on the page, see the button, click on it, and book an appointment right online.
    • Again, a lot of patients are searching to book appointments when you’re not in the office. So having a real-time scheduler tying it to as many places around the web as possible is really gonna help you keep your schedule full.

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***If you want more Facebook specific tips, make sure to check out the 4PC does FB series on our blog!***

 

SEO: Google Yourself, I won’t tell 😉

SEO is this big thing that people talk about, search engine optimization. Oh my God! What am I doing with it? Well, first you should google yourself. If you haven’t done that in a while, it’s definitely a worthwhile exercise to see how you show up in a Google search. It’s a very powerful thing to do because you instantly see all of your web properties online. You might have reviews on review sites that you have no idea about because a patient decided to add your business and review you. And maybe it’s great and maybe it’s not and you have to pay attention to it. Definitely, definitely a worthwhile thing to do.

Now I won’t go into all the tips and tricks of how you can dominate Google today. One of the things you have to realize is, for instance in the case of Golden (pictured below), most people are not going to search on Google and type in “Golden Optometric” and see all his search results. They’re going to Google “optometrist in

[location]” or something along those lines. If you are playing the google game well, then your page will show up pretty high in the search results. Focus on the first page because anything after the first page really doesn’t matter. Most patients searching rarely go past the first page. There are a lot of really in depth things you can do to make sure that you show up on the first page but it would be very lengthy to go into that. Instead, what I’m going to show you is how to jump ahead and get to the top of Google without too much effort.

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PPC: Pay Per Click

The name is pretty self-explanatory, but basically you can pay to get to the top of Google instead of jumping through the 10,000 hoops required to organically get there. Dr. Golden has two locations, one in West Covina and one in Whittier. If you Google “West Covina optometrist,” guess who shows up first? Golden does. Because 4PC, on behalf of him, does a structured PPC campaign that’s geo-targeted. If you are searching in that location or searching for that location, he’s going to pop up on top. We’re seeing really good returns with these types of ads because he’s only paying when the patient actually clicks. So if somebody who’s already interested in your services clicks on your ad, you can convert that interested lead into a patient! There’s really a large potential there that very few practices are capitalizing on. Get ahead of the pack and take the lead (pun intended).

 

Doctor Directories: Reach People in Your Area

There’s a large opportunity in doctor directories too. You can reach thousands of patients by making yourself visible on these directories. There are two classes of directories:

  • Individual insurance directories
    • ex. VSP and EyeMed
  • Third-party directories
    • ex. Healthgrades, WebMD, BetterDoctor, Doctor Directory, etc.

If you want to fill your schedule more often, this is a great way to do it since a lot of these directories are totally free. If you have a real-time web scheduler you can insert it straight into those directories; for instance, below you see the one from EyeMed. EyeMed allows you to have a real-time web scheduler appear directly in the search. When somebody is searching for a provider in your area they type in their zip code, they see the results, and then you pop up. If you have a “schedule appointment” button when others don’t, you have such a big advantage. Anecdotally, if I were to go on there and there are a bunch of listings, my eye will definitely be attracted to the doctor that has enabled online scheduling.

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Telemedicine: Get Way Ahead of the Curve

There’s an opportunity in Telemedicine if you want to get way ahead of your competitors. Telemedicine is the idea that you can perform medical care from anywhere. How powerful would it be if you didn’t need a location or office for patients to come and see you? That’s evolving at a very fast pace. Within the next couple of years you’re probably going to see it expand to general practitioners in eye care. Just the other day there was this amazing article about a new smartphone app that allows doctors to test patients’ vision in the field just with a smartphone. It is very worthwhile to sign up for the American Telemedicine Association newsletter just to stay on top of the trend; that way when it finally does come to fruition in optometry and ophthalmology you will be there.

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