In the constantly evolving digital space, social media has undoubtedly become the nuclear weapon of mass persuasion. Social media analyses huge number of people with tremendous levels of information, the places they go, the people they talk to, their connection, and activities they are interested in.
Recently, social media began to elope with the healthcare vertical, successfully abducting the elements of marketing the same – something that social media has been adept in. This act has caught the attention of a vast pool of healthcare businesses which are on a constant poach to tap its potential, trying to deploy a team internally to manage the same.
The 5 social media tips listed below will help healthcare businesses, acting as a compass to claim the treasure of maximum potential in healthcare marketing.
Don’t wait for an ambulance. Pull your super-car out of the garage! Though many believe that social media is a temporary trend, the fact is that it has pulled the handbrakes for the next decade and beyond. The sooner your organization seat belts on a super-car and accelerates itself to an active presence in social media, the less chances it will face to summon and wait for an ambulance to rescue it.
Fill the preoperative form Establish a social media policy that will protect your business against security and privacy breaches. Mandate the policy and educate all your staff regarding the same through training and outreach programs. This is to make sure that all your staffs are able to fully comprehend and carry out the policy.
Trial your medicine You don’t have to prime an elaborate social media plan in the start. Remember that social media is a medicine which is potentially going to improve your business. So test the medicine by starting small and monitoring the outcomes. Based on the results, ask what your business should be doing to maximize the outcomes by leveraging social media to accomplish your key healthcare goals.
Formulate an antidote Customers are the antidote to cleanse your business through social media. Follow them, listen to what they are talking about your products/services, and your business as a brand. Monitor your competition on social media and listen to what they are saying about themselves. This will make you alter your communication to your customers, in a more effective manner.
Deploy medication Commission a social media team with members who have a good knowledge on social media and its tools. Pick people who are internet-savvy and are excited about the using social media in the healthcare domain, to benefit your organization. Through time, this will be the medication that will determine your existence in the digital universe.
India has reached a total of 205 million internet users in October 2013 (137 million in urban and 68 million in rural areas)*. Beyond Emails, communication and social media, internet has also become a medium to access a plethora of information in any domain. Webchutney findings from a survey** reported that 72% respondents admit to using internet to access healthcare related information and 8 out of 10 respondents have looked for information not only for themselves but others also.
The following are some key trends in the Internet Usage for Health & Medical Needs
Understanding Diseases, Diagnosis & Treatments
There is a huge amount of healthcare related information available online today, including journals, articles, YouTube Videos, blogs and publications by reputed healthcare providers, Institutions & Organizations. It is not uncommon today to search online and diagnose a medical condition using symptoms. The consumers of healthcare in the internet age want to be better informed before making any decision and hence, have a pro-active approach to resolving any medical condition. There are many online resources, particularly international web portals such as WebMD, Medicinenet, Mayo Clinic, rightdiagnosis, etc., that are popularly used to diagnose medical conditions, perhaps before making a doctors’ visit or after to confirm the diagnosis. These portals provide a plethora of other health related information in areas of disease research, drugs, treatments and healthy living etc.
Searching for Doctors/ Hospitals
Growing incomes, Knowledge and awareness have also fueled the sentiment to get the best available in healthcare. People are increasingly searching for doctors across locations, specialties and ratings to avail the best there to suit their requirements. Platforms like Practo and Medindia facilitate online search of doctors across such parameters
Awaiting on a phone line or in a queue outside the doctors clinic is soon becoming a thing of the past. Today majority of reputed hospitals and doctors are working on creating a strong online presence, not just to address their branding and marketing requirements but to also create a more seamless, direct and easy contact process with patients/public. Click on this link for more information in this area
Availing healthcare from your desktop is an emerging concept that intends to provide instant primary medical consultation/assistance irrespective of patient location. This could be extremely useful to time- starved/ busy people and the elderly who can save the effort on commuting to and fro the clinic. Consultations are given through video conferences, phones etc. on a one to one basis. However, this concept has its limitations in the type of medical conditions that can be treated, depending on the complication, tests required and where personal examination of the patients is indispensable. Some of the popular US online clinics are Teladoc, MDLIVE, American Well and Doctor on Demand. Many states in the US are reviewing their medical practice rules, so availability may change. In India too icliniccare is one such provider that offers 24/7 doctor consultation online
Booking Nurses/ Caretakers online
Given the growing aging population and the emergence of nuclear families in India, has increased the need to monitor the heath of the elderly / sick remotely, or to arrange for paid assistance at doorstep when required. In some cases, it is also the post- operative care that has moved from hospitals to home beds. Many companies have surfaced to meet this requirement. In India, industry estimates of the market size for home healthcare are aboutRs 12,600 crore***. Portea Medical, India Home Health Care, Health Care At Home, Homital all have websites and provide easy booking / contact to avail these services
**Indiasocial.in “Catching the e-Healthcare Bug Survey”2011
Most consumers today are not only just net savvy, but also explore better options and share their opinions and grievances online. It has become imperative to be able to compete in the online environment with an online presence that is robust in aesthetics, functionality and above all user friendly and targeted to keep the consumers engaged and loyal.
Clinics/ Hospitals are soon realizing the above trend and moving towards creating an online presence which helps them retain their existing patient base on one hand and broadening it on the other. The infographic above evaluates the current trends in online presence of clinics. Three categories of clinics- eye, dental and maternity were surveyed for the purpose. It shows that online booking is an important functionality enabled by most dental clinics; nearly 80%, also have a presence of Facebook. Key players in the maternity segment have maximum likes on their page from all the clinics surveyed. The average domain rank of eye clinics is the highest, implying better visibility on various search engines. The following are the three Key areas of focus in the digital strategy for clinics.
User Friendly website
Creating a website with the end-user and their pain points in mind is the first step to building a robust online presence. For example, one of the issues that patients face is to obtain doctor appointments, if this issue is addressed upfront by enabling online booking both the patients and clinics would benefit. Also, other functionalities like submitting patient queries can be enabled. An A/B tested website would ensure optimal use and low bounce rates.
Search Engine Optimization
With so many clinics competition for new visitor traffic online, having a website with both online and offline SEO will help drive new and targeted traffic to the website.
Social Media Presence
An impressive and interactive social media presence, is the best way to engage at an informal, yet at a high responsive mode with patients. While achieving brand awareness, reputation is built by sharing important/ useful information, responding to queries and interacting with patients regularly.
The key challenge that doctors and clinical practices today face is gaining visibility under tough competition. It has become imperative to explore modern day marketing techniques for gaining patient leads, building brand presence , maintaining reputation both offline and online, as well as proactively keeping in touch with the existing patient base. Digital Marketing can bring value to a clinical practice by the following ways
Increasing Patient Base
Optimizing website user experience by keeping both aesthetics and ease of use in mind
Making the website SEO friendly, to be easily found by target audience/ patients
Digital/ Online Ads to direct traffic to website
Reputation and Brand Building
Building and Maintaining Social Media Presence on various platforms, and engaging proactively with audience as well resolving queries
Creating easy brand recall through blogs and by posting specialization specific literature on appropriate platforms to gain mindshare
Streamlining Appointments and Reducing Patient Waiting time
Better Scheduling by enabling appointments on Website and following it up with SMS/ Email
Staying in touch on a regular basis with both old and new patients through Email Marketing, sending regular e-newsletters/ Updates/ offers