From patient acquisition through patient retention
For long-term growth, internal medicine practices need a solid marketing and advertising strategy that focuses on both attracting patients and retaining them for years to come.
But today, traditional tactics like direct mail, print advertising, and word-of-mouth recommendations alone won’t deliver the results you need to thrive in an increasingly competitive healthcare market.
Why internal medicine practices need to think digital first
Patients now use Google, instead of seeking a friend or neighbor’s recommendation, to find an internal medicine physician. In fact, 75 percent of people search online for a new healthcare or dental provider.
Internal medicine practices that focus first on digital strategies thrive in today’s competitive landscape. Online marketing and advertising is cost-effective and a powerful tool for helping internists and primary care practices reach and connect with prospective patients.
Modern marketing must-haves for your internal medicine practice
The average American spends nearly 5.5 hours a day on their mobile device. Three out of ten adults say they’re ‘almost constantly’ online. That’s why internal medicine practices that connect with consumers online are more likely to gain new patients.
The benefits of a modern approach to marketing
If you still rely on traditional marketing and advertising tools, consider the benefits that come with digital marketing. They can help shift your mindset — and your marketing strategy. Here are just a few of the benefits to consider:
- It’s cost-effective. Digital marketing and advertising are more affordable than their traditional counterparts. By avoiding print and production costs and taking advantage of digital advertising inventory, internal medicine practices spend less while meeting patients where they are already spending time (online!).
- It’s highly-targeted. While traditional marketing channels have a broad reach, they don’t offer many targeting capabilities. Fortunately, digital marketing allows internal medicine practice marketers to reach the consumers who are most likely to need their services. This results in higher conversion rates and a better return on investment.
- It’s scalable and flexible. With digital marketing and advertising, you’ll have real-time data at your fingertips to help you refine your strategies. If a campaign is performing well, it can easily be scaled for greater reach. Likewise, if something flops, you can quickly halt that campaign and move on. You can also swap headlines, imagery or copy with the click of a button. Plus, you can test multiple iterations of the same ad to see what resonates most with your audience for better performance.
And when it comes to digital marketing, you don’t have to take an all-or-nothing approach. Many primary care practices start small with digital marketing strategies, gradually shifting over time. Others still use a hybrid approach, composed of both traditional and digital strategies for greater reach.
An internal medicine practice’s modern marketing checklist
As you know, marketing and advertising for primary care practices is a competitive business. Not only are you up against other local internists and family medicine practices, you’ve got urgent care centers, retail healthcare providers and national telehealth companies to contend with.
Standing out in today’s competitive landscape requires a comprehensive digital marketing and advertising strategy that takes prospective patients from their first online search to scheduling their first appointment and beyond.
For long-term internal medicine practice growth, you’ll need a combination of the following proven digital marketing and advertising tactics:
- An impressive website that’s easy to navigate, mobile optimized and loads quickly. Add a link to online scheduling to support patient conversion. Your site should also include web pages detailing every service and procedure you provide.
- A powerful online presence that spans beyond your website to help you connect with more patients online.
- Search engine optimization (SEO) and local search marketing strategies that will help your internal medicine practice rise to the top of search results. This will allow you to connect with more patients in your target market.
- A strong reputation management program that attracts patients to your practice by demonstrating that your internists are delivering high-quality care and your practice prioritizes the patient experience.
- A patient engagement and retention plan that will keep current patients connected to your practice and coming back for more appointments.
- A comprehensive content marketing strategy that keeps your practice top of mind with current and prospective patients through the use of timely and relevant content related to the conditions you treat and the services you provide.
- A long-term growth plan that includes measurable goals and allows you to keep an eye on key metrics that drive sustainable practice growth.
Used together, these strategies drive both patient acquisition and retention at your internal medicine practice.
Building your web presence: Top-notch website strategies and beyond
A powerful online presence begins with your website
When it comes to your website, don’t set it and forget it.
Your internal medicine practice website is like a brochure that’s never finished and without content constraints. In fact, more content increases your odds of ranking for unique keywords related to internal medicine. Unfortunately, too many independent practices don’t put enough resources into their website, and instead approach it with a “one and done’’ attitude.
Instead, think of your internal medicine practice website as a living, evolving document that needs constant supervision. You need to update it regularly and check its performance by keeping an eye on key metrics, including page load times, website traffic, and bounce and conversion rates. By adding new content regularly, you’re signaling to search engines and patients that you’re invested in your website, which will generate more traffic over time.
Lastly, be sure to highlight anything that sets your internal medicine practice apart from the competition, and when appropriate, establish a dedicated page for any unique services or offerings. For example, if you offer on-site laboratory services, x-ray, in-office procedures, extended hours, or urgent care services, ensure they are prominently displayed throughout the site.
Going beyond your internal medicine URL
The days of yellow pages and phone books are long gone, and a new era of online directories and profiles has taken over. Popular business directory sites, such as Google My Business, Yelp, Vitals, and WebMD give prospective patients numerous avenues to find your internal medicine practice — if you’re taking advantage of them.
A simple internet search of your practice is likely to bring up a multitude of such profiles. Drive more traffic to your website and pique searchers’ interest early in their search journey by claiming and enhancing these profiles with your practice details (name, address, phone number), professional photos, and information on the services you provide.
Likewise, implementing a strong blog and social media strategy exposes more prospective patients to your brand where they’re already spending time.
Content marketing strategies for the internal medicine provider
Content marketing is another powerful way to expand your web presence. Content marketing is a strategy that requires creating relevant and useful content that explains or describes the services your internal medicine practice offers.
Today’s savvy healthcare consumers are looking online for answers to their healthcare questions and concerns. For internal medicine practices, this is an incredible opportunity to connect and engage with patients by serving as a valuable and expert resource. At the same time, you’ll be driving awareness of your practice and providers.
Creative content marketing ideas for internists
There are dozens of ways to use content marketing to connect with current and prospective patients. Many internal medicine practices will focus on blogging, email marketing campaigns, and social media outreach.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some content marketing ideas to consider for your internal medicine practice:
- A video explaining the difference between molecular and rapid COVID-19 tests.
- A blog explaining the risks of high blood pressure and how their internal medicine doctor can help them keep their condition under control.
- A social media campaign focused on women’s health.
- A targeted email campaign for patients with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis with tips for preventing a flare-up.
- A Q&A with one of your providers about medical weight loss, how it works, and what to expect.
- An email message letting patients know it’s time to schedule their annual flu vaccine or annual physical exam.
- A Facebook post sharing a positive online review or patient testimonial with their permission
- A Twitter post highlighting the latest FDA-approved treatments for diabetes.
- An email introducing a new service, such as telemedicine, concierge medicine or stem cell therapy.
- A video series on non-pharmacological ways to manage back pain.
When describing your services, be sure to use the keywords and phrases your patients are most likely to use when searching online. This will support your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy.
If you need more inspiration, here’s a list of common internal medicine keywords and topics to consider incorporating into your next blog post, social media and/or email campaign.
Common internal medicine keywords & topics
- Primary care/Internal medicine
- Physical exams/Annual physical exam
- Family medicine
- Functional medicine/Regenerative therapy
- Allergy testing
- Back pain
- COVID-19 test/Rapid COVID-19 testing
- High blood pressure/Hypertension
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Men’s health
- Pain management
- Thyroid problems
- Urgent care/Walk-in clinic
- Weight loss/Obesity treatment
- Women’s health
- Dermatology & specialty services
- Body contouring
- Botox and fillers/injectables
- IV vitamin therapy
- Laser hair removal/Laser treatments
- PRP injections
- Skin care/Skin rejuvenation/Skin tightening
How SEO strategies help your internal medicine practice attract more new patients
Having a beautiful website is important, but even the best design won’t do much good if you’re not sitting at the top of search results. Nearly all people searching online choose from the first page of results, thus it is critical for internal medicine practices to attain page one status.
While it’s a tricky business, search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most powerful tools in a marketer’s toolbox. Particularly in a competitive business like primary care, SEO helps your internal medicine practice show up ahead of your competitors — which has a significant impact on your ability to connect with and win over new patients.
An effective SEO strategy helps your practice thrive, and if your internal medicine practice isn’t investing in it, chances are that your competitors are gaining market share that could be yours. While many practices outsource SEO, there are a few tried and true strategies every practice can use to improve their search engine standings. They include:
- Implementing a comprehensive content marketing plan to connect with current and prospective patients online. An ideal plan includes blogging (1 to 4 times per month), social media posts that link back to your website, and email campaigns that drive website traffic.
- Using popular keywords on your website and online profiles to connect with patients searching for internal medicine services. Be sure to use keywords that are relevant to your practice, such as internal medicine, primary care, internist, general practitioner, medical check-up, chronic disease management, etc. Also, think of questions a prospective patient may need answers to, such as “where can I get an annual physical?”; “tips for managing asthma” or “when should I get my annual flu vaccine?” Let those concepts drive new content for your website or blog.
- Focusing on enhancing your online reputation. Your online reviews do more than let patients know you’re a great choice. Practices with more online reviews and a higher star rating have a better chance of rising to the top of search engine results.
Reputation matters: Tools and tactics for online reputation management
Your online reputation is a digital vote of confidence for your internal medicine practice and can make the difference between a patient choosing you or the competing practice down the road. That’s because 72 percent of patients look at reviews when choosing a healthcare provider – and many (69 percent) won’t even consider a provider with an average star rating of less than 4.0 out of 5.
Many internal medicine providers don’t think about their online reputation or believe it’s out of their control. But adopting a reputation management strategy is worth the investment. Positive patient reviews show prospective patients that your internal medicine practice will provide a positive patient experience. Patients will know they’re likely to get the care and service that they want from your practice.
To keep your patients happy, and your online reputation positive, here are a few proven reputation management strategies.
- Ask for patient feedback. By sending automated patient satisfaction surveys after each appointment, you’re signaling to your patients that you want their feedback and that you value their opinions. PatientPop research indicates that patients who are asked for feedback are 2.3x more likely to post an online review.
- Focus on the patient experience. For busy patients, offering modern digital conveniences streamlines their appointments, reduces waiting, and makes it easier to do business with you. Tools such as online scheduling, automated reminders and confirmations, digital registration and intake, text messaging and telehealth keep patients happy and coming back. In fact, 62.4 percent of patients want online access to complete their registration and fill out forms.
- Respond promptly. From social media comments to online reviews, emails and phone calls, each patient comment or interaction is an opportunity to let patients know you’re listening. And since 67 percent of patients say the No. 1 thing they want in a healthcare provider is a good listener, responding to your patients is important. Responding promptly to feedback, especially if it’s negative or neutral, also helps resolve any issues that might lead to long-term dissatisfaction or patient attrition.
More reviews drive search engine rankings and website traffic
Prospective patients aren’t the only ones looking at online reviews. Google and other popular search engines are monitoring your online reputation, too. In fact, the volume and frequency of reviews your internal medicine practice receives has a significant impact on your search engine rankings. That’s because a steady stream of patient reviews signals to search engines that your internal medicine practice is visited often and has relevance in the community. As such, Google’s algorithm rewards those businesses by improving their search engine rankings.
The quality of feedback matters, too. Google’s star rating system aggregates all of your internal medicine practice reviews into an easy-to-read star rating that lets prospective patients see how your practice compares to others in your area. If your practice has less than four stars, Google will leave your practice out of all searches that include the term ‘best.’ For example, a search for [What is the best internal medicine practice in midtown?’]. When it comes to attracting new patients, how can you compete if you’re not even in the running?
With online reputation so closely tied to search engine optimization (SEO) and local search performance, those internal medicine practices with a strong reputation management program will be in a better position for long-term growth.
An internist’s guide to patient engagement and retention
If patient acquisition strategies are tactics that drive rapid growth, patient retention strategies are those that sustain practice growth. Too often practices fail to focus on maintaining and strengthening the patient-provider relationship in between appointments, losing out on a key opportunity to drive patient loyalty and retention.
For internal medicine practices, keeping patients engaged will encourage them to maintain their routine appointments. This isn’t just good for business, but also better for patient care and outcomes.
And today’s savvy healthcare consumers are far less hesitant to switch healthcare providers than they were just a decade ago. In fact, 72 percent of patients say they’ll switch doctors for the patient experience they desire. By implementing strategies designed to improve satisfaction, enhance convenience, and engage patients, internal medicine practices can drive patient loyalty.
Simple strategies that drive patient engagement and loyalty
Primary care office visits have declined in recent years3, despite research confirming that staying on top of routine care is the best way to maintain your health and reduce healthcare costs. So, how do you get internal medicine patients to stay on top of their routine care, show up for appointments, and stay loyal to your practice? Here are some top tips to keep patients engaged all year long.
- Stay in touch: The average primary care patient will come to your office between two to four times per year4. Keeping in touch in between visits through email, text messaging, and automated appointment reminders help patients remember to maintain their routine care.
66% of patients prefer text messages when receiving appointment reminders.
59% of patients prefer a text message reminder when it’s time to make their next appointment.
- Deliver value: For patients with chronic conditions, email campaigns are a great way to provide valuable and relevant health information throughout the year. You can also target your emails by age, risk factors, or interests, which allows you to keep patients informed of new services or changes in practice operations.
- Make it easy: Today’s patients are busier than ever. Introducing digital tools that streamline scheduling and office visits lets patients know you value their time. You also make it easier for them to book and maintain their appointments. From online scheduling and digital paperwork to telehealth and text message reminders, offering a modern experience keeps patients coming back to your practice.
Creating a practice growth strategy for long-term success
Running a successful internal medicine practice isn’t easy. Practice operators are often so busy managing the day-to-day operations that it can be difficult to set aside the time needed to develop a long-term growth strategy.
Yet, in today’s competitive landscape, doing so is critical to keep your practice thriving. The explosion of retail healthcare, employer-sponsored telehealth plans, and urgent care centers are all threatening the future of the independent internal medicine practice. Establishing a growth plan with measurable goals helps you stay on track to meet performance targets year after year.
If you’re not sure where to begin, you’re not alone. Developing a growth plan requires a keen understanding of your practice’s current performance metrics, as well as a means by which to track and measure performance on an ongoing basis.
The benefits of an all-in-one practice growth platform
Busy practices need to streamline operations. While you could manage numerous applications or vendors for your website, search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, online scheduling, and patient satisfaction, tracking practice performance would be nearly impossible. You’d also spend far more time and money than necessary.
On the other hand, using an all-in-one practice growth platform supports your internal medicine’s practice growth strategy by giving you key insights into the factors that drive both patient acquisition and retention.
From website statistics and search results rankings to new appointment volume and online reputation insights, PatientPop’s all-in-one platform shows internal medicine practices how they’re performing against their practice growth goals.
The information you’ll have at your fingertips helps your practice refine its advertising and marketing efforts to attract new patients. It can also guide operational changes to improve patient satisfaction.
The bottom line? Using a comprehensive solution helps busy internal medicine practices keep an eye on practice performance while making it easier to meet growth goals — today and well into the future.
These digital advertising tactics work well in conjunction with any traditional marketing efforts you have in place, including direct mail, broadcast or print advertising campaigns.