The best ideas for attracting and retaining more patients in today’s digital world
These days, you can no longer depend solely on physician referrals to build your surgery practice. Patients won’t follow through on a referral to book an appointment until they visit your website and like what they see. And, while they’re reviewing your practice online, they’ll compare you to other general surgeons before selecting the best fit for their needs.
Access to information about expertise online can also help bring in patients who self-refer to your practice, based on their online research about your areas of specialty and reputation. (Forty-three percent of physicians refer patients to providers they don’t know well, so it makes sense that patients want more information before they select a surgeon).
Manage your practice online and in-office with a practice growth platform
Your practice website is the foundation of your online presence, although it’s only one part of a digital marketing plan. To bring potential patients to your practice, you’ll need to tell them about your areas of expertise and motivate them to schedule an appointment in other prominent places your potential patients visit online.
To get the best results for your marketing efforts and budget, digital marketing includes meeting patients where they interact online, including social media platforms.
Your website serves as the welcome mat and front door to your general surgery practice. Social media is where you mingle and communicate, creating connections that inspire people searching for a general surgeon to make an appointment.
If managing your social media presence sounds daunting, there are technology solutions that can help. For example, the PatientPop practice growth platform gives practices optimum visibility online and enhances the patient experience with:
- A search-engine optimized (SEO) website
- Engaging and informative healthcare content
- Easy online appointment scheduling
- Automated appointment reminders and confirmations
- Social media, blog, and email campaigns
- Automated patient surveys
- Reputation management
- Ongoing text and email communication
Most importantly, the PatientPop practice growth platform integrates with your existing EMR software.
Use proven digital marketing strategies to grow and sustain your practice
To start on your digital marketing plan, focus on creating brand awareness, connecting with your target market, attracting new patients, and tracking success metrics so you know which strategies and tactics work, and which ones need to be adjusted.
Smart digital marketing strategies include:
Creating a visually striking and informative website
Your general surgery website should express your personality, speak directly to your ideal patient, and include content with information your patients need to know. Web pages should be user friendly, meaning they are easy to navigate and show patients how to take immediate action to make an appointment or reach out to the practice.
Ranking well in search engine results
A 2021 PatientPop healthcare industry survey shows 75 percent of patients search for information about healthcare providers online. But when prospective patients search online, they will only find you if you appear at the top of their search results. Weave search engine optimization techniques throughout your website, use Google ads, and regularly publish new content on your website to rank high in search engine results.
Publishing online patient reviews
Patient reviews are very or extremely important to 74 percent of all patients searching online for a provider. Positive patient reviews can improve your online reputation and boost your search engine rankings. To automate the patient review process, the PatientPop practice growth platform makes it easy to bring in patient reviews and publish them on your website.
Communicating online and via text messaging
Patients now value the convenience of online services, from booking appointments and registering online to paying their bill. They also prefer text messages for appointment confirmations and reminders.
Streamlining front-office workflow
A patient’s first impression of your practice comes from your office staff. If your staff are overwhelmed with phone calls, paperwork, and patient check-in and check-out, they will struggle to give patients a welcoming experience which includes taking the time to answer questions.
Next to receiving quality care, nearly half of patients say that a welcoming staff is what they most value from their healthcare provider.
PatientPop supports your practice by automating front office functions and paperwork, so staff can give patients the caring attention they need.
The PatientPop practice growth platform automatically tracks your practice success metrics, from search result rankings to the number of newly scheduled appointments, and much more.
Outrank competitors using general surgery SEO tactics
The best website possible won’t help build your general surgery practice if patients can’t find it. To get noticed online and stand out from competitors, your website must rank well in search engine results. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.
SEO involves several techniques:
Keyword optimization. Your website should incorporate the words (keywords) and phrases people use to search for your general surgery practice. Though this technique is essential for all websites, it’s especially important for general surgeons because many people aren’t familiar with the range of services and types of surgical procedures that general surgeons perform.
Internal website linking. An internal link on your website connects two separate pages on your website. In addition to helping patients navigate to critical information, internal linking increases your online visibility.
Backlinking. Backlinking connects a keyword or phrase on your website with another (reputable) website that offers more information on the topic. This type of linking boosts your authority and helps you rank well in Google search engine results pages (SERP).
Publishing new content. Frequently publishing new healthcare and general surgery content on a regular schedule keeps your website up-to-date and significantly improves your search rankings. Creating informative blogs is one of the best ways to produce new content that draws people to your website.
Enhance your web presence to increase your online visibility
Three marketing components that can exponentially enhance your visibility include an active social media presence, accurate and up-to-date online business profiles, and website content that’s optimized for mobile devices.
Active engagement on social media spreads the word about your practice and demonstrates that you care about patients. Communicating more about yourself and your practice is especially essential for general surgeons; patients want to know they’re in good hands before committing to a major medical procedure.
Online business directory profiles boost your online visibility, because patients often view your practice information on these directories, followed by looking at a practice website. If your profile is incomplete or inaccurate on these directories, patients may skip over you and move on to the next general surgeon. Complete and accurate business profiles also contribute to search engines rankings.
Ninety-three percent of Millennials, 90 percent of Gen Xers, and 68 percent of Baby Boomers own and rely upon their smartphones. Additionally, 66 percent of patients prefer text messages for appointment confirmations and reminders. A website that’s optimized for mobile devices is essential, so patients can view your practice information anywhere, anytime. Also, your practice must have the ability to text patients for appointment confirmations, reminders, and ongoing communication with your practice.
Advertising strategies to highlight your general surgery practice
Search advertising, display advertising, video advertising, and social media sponsored content can make your general surgery practice stand out more, and drive people to your website.
Because general surgeons address many health conditions, and use a range of surgical procedures, patients will need as much information as possible about the specific procedures you offer.
Target the type of patient you want with keyword-rich content in your ads, and throughout your website. Those who reach your website need to quickly learn what you do, and what they can expect under your care. Show patients exactly why they should select you as their surgeon.
Protect your online reputation with smart tactics
Along with positive interaction and stellar reviews that highlight the quality of care you provide, you’ll also likely encounter negative reviews and comments from patients.
Reputation management is easier with proven strategies such as:
Using automated patient satisfaction surveys
Asking your patients for a review increases the odds that patients will take a few minutes to share their experience online. The process should be automated, to increase the odds of a patient providing feedback when it’s convenient for them. A bonus to patient reviews: they also boost your Google search ranking.
Responding to communication
There’s no way to overestimate the value of promptly responding to communication from a patient, ideally on the same day that they reach out.. Whether you get a positive or negative online review, a text message or email, or someone leaves a comment on one of your sites, your reply shows that you pay attention and care about your patients’ overall wellbeing.
Quickly reply to negative comments to give you the opportunity to turn a negative review into a positive reflection of your practice. After replying to the patient online, follow up directly with them via phone, text, or email to resolve any issues..
Building your business profiles
We already mentioned the importance of business profiles but it’s worth mentioning again. Completing your practice business profile on sites like Google My Business, Yelp, WebMD, and Healthgrades significantly boosts your overall search engine ranking and gets you listed in location-specific searches.
Keep your information up to date, and include specifics about the types of surgeries you perform. Include photos of your staff and practice to draw more people to your website.
Give surgery patients key healthcare information with content marketing
Content marketing includes creating articles, videos, blogs, and social media posts that interest and inform your patients. Publish frequently (two or three times a week) to bring people to your website and grow your business.
General surgeons have a long list of topics to address that can highlight your expertise for patients. In addition to telling people about new medical technologies, the latest medical guidelines, or changes in your practice, you can address topics such as:
Conditions, organs, and their associated surgical procedures:
- Hernia repair
- Gallbladder disease
- Bariatric surgery
- Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty
- Thyroid disease
- Soft tissue masses
- Surgical excision of masses
- Bowel obstruction
- Bowel resection
- Gastric ulcer
- Perforated stomach
- Stomach cancer
- Acute pancreatitis
- Pancreatic cancer
- Ruptured spleen
- Spleen cancer
- Kidney stones
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy
- Liver cysts
- Liver cancer
- Liver biopsy
- Liver resection
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Nissen fundoplication
Areas of specialization:
- Laparoscopic surgery
- Robotic surgery
- Trauma management
- Pain management
- Management of critically ill
- Endocrine system
- Surgical oncology
- Vascular surgery
You can also develop content based on interactions with your patients. For example, if they frequently ask the same questions or need help dealing with fear and anxiety about having surgery, write about it in your blogs.