With the abundance of online information — and more recently the overwhelming popularity of social media — there is an expectation of readily-available, reliable and accurate information. In the healthcare world, patients expect to have ready access to information from resources including their care providers, WebMD and popular media, as well as from their friends and acquaintances via social media.
Thanks to the Internet, the line between “shopping” and “researching” is forever blurred.
Your patients have the ability to “shop” for healthcare day or night, at the computer, with help from their online friends. This is the new normal. There’s no going back. It’s important to accept this reality so you can work to meet patients and potential patients where they are online and foster a dialog whenever possible.
How do you do this? Content.
By creating content that reflects your practice’s expertise, demonstrates value to the potential patient, and helps sustain that dialogue with current patients, you can grow loyalty and increase the likelihood of patients recommending your practice to others.
To demonstrate your expertise and passion to pass it along, you need to constantly create and share relevant information. By instituting a content creation program, your practice can:
- Demonstrate value to patients and their families.
- Position yourself as thought leaders.
- Get found by web search engines.
All content is not created equal.
And that’s not a bad thing. The good news is that your practice’s content can be used in so many different ways — think websites, blogs, social media — that you can begin to triage content to the best possible outlet for your audiences.
Some things are newsworthy. Suppose one of your docs just received a prestigious award from his peers. You’ll want to blast this news out everywhere, in press releases, on your blog, on your website, and on all the social media outlets.
Other content is noteworthy. Eight of your staff members formed a team and participated in a walk that raised money for a worthy cause. This type of information is ripe for your Facebook page and perhaps the blog portion of your website.
The best content is pure gold. Your hotshot new doc just handed you an original article that she wrote, offering tips for patients that are relevant, practical and timely. This type of content gets featured everywhere as well. And this is the type of content our clients find attracts huge amounts of website traffic.
“But who has the time?” you protest. Not all content you use in social media and other outlets has to be “made-from-scratch” creations. Curating relevant information for your patients and potential patients on your website is another way to demonstrate value. By locating, reposting and linking to relevant content from other reliable sources, you can position your practice as a go-to resource. For example: a new study shows the connection between running on asphalt and high ankle injuries. Share an excerpt and a link to the online study through your communications channels and it will be appreciated.
As for your original content, plan ahead to ensure it works hardest for you. Once created, content can be purposed and repurposed for a variety of needs, offering a great deal of economy and efficiency. Some content just comes along, like awards or charity walks. You just need to watch for it, recognize it, and deploy it on the best possible communication channel. Other, more original content can be planned for by creating a simple content calendar. By developing a calendar ahead of time, you’ll allow your busy providers the opportunity to think about their contributions — and seek outside help in articulating these ideas as needed — and still meet deadline.
If you would like to learn more, request our healthcare marketing e-book here.