By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
I recently bumped into a specialty practice that did not have a website. The Internet has become such a significant “front door” for healthcare providers and hospitals that having no online presence—nada, zip—was surprising.
For this specialty practice, attracting new, self-referred patients was not a priority. “We’re already busy,” they told us. “Our appointments are full to capacity with [professional] referrals. Why do we need a custom healthcare website?” What’s more, being busy left little time to work on creating a (seemingly low priority) Internet presence.
On the surface, having an “all referral” practice and a steady stream of patients is, to a certain extent, an enviable situation. But digging further into the current situation of this medical practice, it was evident that new (competitive) doctors had arrived in the area, and the comfortable referral stream of patients—the lifeblood that they were taking for granted—was about to change dramatically.
In fact, there are many reasons why even a busy, “at capacity” doctor or medical practice marketing plan needs a powerful and effective website as the cornerstone of an Internet presence.
Here’s our list of the Top 7 Reasons…
#7. Things change rapidly in healthcare. Reliance on a single channel for new patients, even from multiple referral sources, is a risk given the certainty of change in healthcare. An Internet presence helps maintain and grow your referral stream.
#6. Patients use the Internet for due diligence. Referred or self-referred, prior to making an appointment, many patients will go online to acquaint themselves with the practice. Having little or no Internet presence takes the patient elsewhere…likely to a competitive provider that they’ve found online.
#5. Referring doctors also use the Internet for due diligence. No doubt your CV is sterling, but your online presence is instantly available and it speaks volumes to professional colleagues about you and your work.
#4. Stand out among the competition. “Being invisible” online is simply your gift of new business to another practice.
#3. Protect, maintain and grow market share. The Internet is a primary consideration in healthcare marketing. This is where prospective patients—customers—survey their options.
#2. Change your patient mix for more desirable patients and cases. Simply being busy is no assurance of attracting an optimal balance of cases and patients. Internet marketing can influence this mix.
#1. Protect and extend your professional reputation. Having no presence available online could be a negative signal to others. Your story—whatever your healthcare colleagues and the public know about you—is strongly influenced by what you present online.
What can you add to this list? For related reading, see: Does Your Internet Presence Shine (or Suck)?
Better than 50 percent of patient healthcare provider selections are directly or indirectly influenced and guided by information found on the Internet. As the nation’s healthcare delivery system has evolved today, having no online presence is simply not an option.