South Florida Hospital News
Thursday March 21, 2019
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January 2019 - Volume 15 - Issue 7

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The Secret to Marketing Your Practice Online

The patient journey through medical treatment consists of a series of milestones, from diagnosis through referral, treatment and recovery. Beginning with the search for the best doctor and every step along the way, most patients are hungry for information and bursting with questions. How do I know my diagnosis is correct? What kind of treatment do I need? What is the recovery like? The list of questions goes on and on, and the first step for most people is to “Google it” and see what comes up.

Our almost universal reliance on search engines to get us the information we’re looking for presents a valuable opportunity for physicians to connect with patients in a very professional manner. The approach is known as content marketing and its power resides in its ability to deliver information that is relevant and valuable to the patient. Instead of blatantly praising and promoting the doctor, it educates patients and helps them find the answers they seek. If physicians do it right, potential patients are likely to reward them first with their attention and then with their trust and loyalty.
 
Great content marketing begins with putting yourself in the patient’s shoes. Let’s say, for example, that you’re an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip replacement. After years in practice, you know which questions make patients most anxious. How do I know I need a hip replacement? How long is the recovery? What’s the difference between anterior and posterior hip replacement? Will I ever be able to jog again? Content marketing is a patient-centric, rather than doctor-centric, approach. If after reading the content on your website someone takes the next step with an email inquiry or a call for an appointment, you’re on the right track.
 
As with any worthwhile practice-building strategy, successful content marketing requires time, resources and commitment. You need an up-to-date, properly coded website, with a dedicated blog where your content lives. Writing medical articles isn’t easy, so you’ll need to either write them yourself or hire a writer and then edit carefully. And you’ll need to write consistently, launching your blog with several informative articles and then adding at least one new article per month, because in the world of digital marketing and search engine optimization, fresh content is king.
 
When potential patients searching for answers return to your site a second or third time, it’s ideal if they find even more information from you to help them navigate their options. All the major search engines track new content, which impacts search results. As more content from a site is indexed, the site’s ranking improves and attracts more visitors.
 
When you’re ready to commit to content marketing, keep these five points in mind:
1. It’s about what patients need to know, not about you. Be a valuable resource.
2. Keep it human and understandable. Scientific information can be intimidating to patients and their families.
3. Don’t be self-promotional. Focus on addressing the patient’s concerns and building trust.
4. Results take time and persistence. Benefits of content marketing develop over time.
5. Commit only to what you can sustain. Gaps in posting suggest neglect and create distrust. Commit to doing it consistently or don’t do it at all.
 
The brilliance of content marketing is the simplicity of its appeal. From the patient’s point of view, everyone appreciates helpful information. From a physician’s perspective, the professionalism, SEO value and overall return on investment can be greater than other forms of marketing.
 
In a skeptical world, content marketing is an effective strategy for delivering the trust and engagement that many patients seek. Executed skillfully, it is a win/win for practices and patients alike.

Jane Grant is president and co-founder of Pierson Grant Public Relations, an established South Florida public relations and digital marketing firm serving health care clients. She may be reached at jgrant@piersongrant.com or (954) 776-1999 ext. 224. 

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