The Role of Medical Marketing
The role of marketing communication in health care has changed rapidly. Have you heard of “e-patients”? Patients are now using the internet to make informed decisions about their health care, as well as finding reputable health care providers. Patients choose doctors based on referrals and much of what they see online.
Remember, millennials are a different beast than your baby boomer generation! These patients expect an online presence with the ability to interact with your practice. By incorporating a strong digital presence, you are ensuring that you are able to reach out to patients when and where they are looking for you. In the past 5-10 years, websites have become the dominant marketing and advertising medium for medical practitioners
Digital marketing is still, a relatively inexpensive method of marketing that allows you to reach your ideal patients, at the right time. It is also a fantastic way to keep in touch with existing patients.
Before jumping straight into digital marketing, there are a number of considerations you must look at.
Should you advertise your medical practice?
According to Simon Bell, professor of marketing at the University of Melbourne, word-of-mouth is still the most effective way to drive patient traffic. Service and quality is what drives patient satisfaction, hence driving referral traffic. But remember, word-or-mouth can – and does – spread faster than you can say hello online. Digital marketing is a great way to earn passive and better yet, active referrals at a large scale. An excellent digital marketing strategist with a firm understanding of the medical sector can help you create an online showcase for your practice.
Whilst traditional word-of-mouth has its merits, have you considered what if, you are a doctor starting out in a new practice or who have moved to a new area?
How will you reach out to patients?
Hence, the first question you should always ask is “what is the purpose of digital marketing for your practice?” Before diving straight into this, always determine your goal for having an online presence, this would help you in determining the strategy moving forward for your practice.
Remember, too much promotion can create a negative impression instead. There is a finesse to medical marketing. Your marketing plan and tone of communication is critical, it should always be one of concern for your patient’s health and protecting their well-being.
If your digital marketing efforts provide information about changes at the practice, such as new doctors or services, disseminating important details about the community health risks, these are legitimate reasons for doctors to advertise. As a rule of thumb, you should avoid claims or comparisons with other doctors to avoid any potential problems.
The medical board of Australia provides a comprehensive guide to what is acceptable and legal in marketing and advertising by medical practitioners. ((http://www.medicalboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines-Policies.aspx)
The relevant section of the national law states that health services must not be advertised in a way that:
· Is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to be misleading or deceptive
· Offers a gift, discount, or other inducement to attract a person to use the service or the business, unless the advertisement also sets out the terms and conditions of the offer
· Uses testimonials or purported testimonials about the service or business
· Creates an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment
· Directly or indirectly encourages the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services.
The possible consequences of breaching advertising provisions include a finding of unprofessional conduct, which could lead to the cancellation of the doctor’s registration.
What should you do?
Our advice at the Rebel Berry Group is generally to be pre-emptive. Doctors should be aware of the medical board guidelines, what can and can’t be said is very clearly stated on the ACCC and Medical Board guidelines.
Always sell your professional services on their merits, be honest about what you say and do commercially, look at the overall impression of your advertisement. Remember, that the end user of your marketing is the viewpoint of a layperson with little or no knowledge of the services you are providing.
If in doubt, you can always speak to your specific profession’s medical board and the Medical Board of Australia to clarify your concerns. If you do have a medical lawyer, give them a call to ensure you aren’t in breach of any laws.
Why is it Important for Healthcare Professionals to Utilise Online Marketing?
Because of the increasingly competitive market within the medical field, it is even more important for medical professionals to not only market their services, but more specifically to market them well, and with accuracy.
This means utilising your website, social media, and any other online marketing initiatives you engage in to define exactly what your practice offers, how it will benefit patients, and let people know you exist! Why not use this opportunity to give credit to your staff? You can show off your great employees, share accolades and accomplishments, and simultaneously advertise your area of expertise to new patients!
Say Yes to Digital Medical Marketing!
Medical marketing can be daunting, but in the 21st century, if you aren’t online, you are likely to be losing potential patients and referrals.
All healthcare businesses should at the very least have a professional website. This lets visitors easily visit the site and gives credibility to your healthcare centre. Consider the option for a health blog. These are niche blogs that cover specific health topics, events and/or related content in your area of expertise. This allows you to position your practice and practitioners as a thought leader by highlighting their skills.
Do you want more patients coming through the door? Let us help you. We'll get to know your practice a little, suggest some quick fixes you can do yourself, and, if you like our ideas and want more, we'll schedule another time to talk.