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Why does my medical practice need to go digital?

If you are a medical practice, network of doctors, hospital or any other medical professional you need to have a digital presence. Digital can range from a simple website to a complex, custom-developed web application and everything in between. There are two main reasons your medical practice needs to go digital as soon as possible. The first reason is that online is where your patients are looking for you and the second is that your competitors are digital already. Your patients are looking online for a medical professional and they will find one. The question is how do you make sure that they are finding you?

Digital has a range of exciting opportunities which can make your life easier, attract new patients and keep your existing ones informed. Take your medical practice digital with some of these ideas.

Create a simple website to give a digital audience the what, why and where of your medical practice

If you are a local medical practice, an online listing of your name and contact information is no longer enough to keep up with a new digital generation.

The very first step to a solid digital presence is a website. It doesn’t need to have pages and pages of text (in fact it shouldn’t). But it should give at least the details of who you are, what you do and how to find and contact you. Your website will become the digital brain of your practice. Anything and everything you do and market will point to your website. Your social media, signage, business cards… everything should direct clients back to your website. Once you have your website set up, there are many digital solutions you can start to explore.

Your medical practice needs a local Google My Business listing so your patients can quickly and easily get the information they need in a hurry

Google My Business allows you to create a local listing to market to people looking for medical practices close to them. Having a local dentist or GP is hugely beneficial and these listings include vital contact information, operating hours, website links and even allow reviews. A patient might choose to drive for a specialist or even a GP who has great reviews.

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Be a part of the ‘Dr Google’ trend

Since your patient will be Googling their symptoms and will already have decided their treatment plan by the time they are sitting in your consulting room, why not make sure they have the right information before they get there? Us patients know that medical professionals hate it when we do this, but we can’t help it. There is just so much information available to us digitally. What you can do is help your patients with this process by creating content around some common questions and symptoms. Once your patients trust you and are reading your content rather than the wide variety of digital information that is out there, you may not have us come to you with such crazy diagnoses. If you specialise in dermatology and are often asked the same questions in treating a certain skin ailment, make some of the information available online.

There are many applications to this idea of content creation. If you are a GP, for example, you could write up a blog article mentioning viruses doing the rounds in your area, giving lists of symptoms and basic treatment options. You can partner with schools to send notifications to parents informing them of any outbreaks they should be aware of.

Your content doesn’t all need to be freely available. You can create password protected content to remind patients of the treatment routine you have prescribed. This creates a community for your current patients and keeps them coming back.

Creating constant relevant content and becoming a thought leader in a local area or specialisation is an excellent tool for digital marketing. It will increase your organic search traffic (people who find your website by searching for a specific topic you have talked about) and improve your SEO score (the ranking Google gives your website).

Here are some other ideas around using content marketing to get more website visits.

Make your medical practice digital to save you, your staff and your patient’s time

Not everyone has the time to make an appointment during office hours. Nor does everyone want to pick up the phone and call for an appointment. Online appointment booking calendars solve all of these problems by giving patients a way to easily see which doctors are available and at which times, so they can choose a time that suits them best. This digital booking can be done at 3:27am when they are wide awake thinking of the doctor’s appointment they mustn’t forget to book. You can send them reminders, add the appointment to their calendar and set an alarm an hour before so they don’t forget or run late. Digital appointments cannot be double booked. You also now have an email address, one of the most vital bits of information for a digital marketer or for a digitally savvy medical practice. Your patient can fill in, or simply update, their personal details. No paper, no handwritten scrawl to decipher, no need to arrive 20 minutes early to do the paperwork. The best part? Your secretary didn’t need to do a thing.

What about after the appointment? You can send them the invoice digitally, thereby making it easy for them to submit to their medical aid. You can send them an automated follow-up email a week or two later to remind them to book a checkup or a questionnaire on their progress since their last appointment. If you are sending a treatment plan, a suggested diet or perhaps some side effects to watch out for then you can do that on a digital platform.

If you deal with patients diagnosed with MS, for example, why not have a set of automated emails guiding, encouraging and coaching them through living with the disease.

Even test results and patient information can be shared and stored digitally and securely where appropriate.

Integrate with health and fitness technology to take your medical practice digital

Phones and watches are constantly tracking your patient’s exercise and lifestyle. You no longer need to rely on your patient to truthfully tell you how much sleep they are getting or how much exercise they do, you can get the data to tell you the real story. Looking at lifestyle and general health as a part of a treatment plan can revolutionise the way your practice looks at digital. Integrating client health data into their medical profiles allows you to partner with your patients on a very personal level. A custom web application for dieticians can allow you to take a holistic view of your patients.

Still not sure why your medical practice needs to go digital? Does this all sound a bit daunting? We love partnering with businesses and finding digital solutions to help make their lives easier. Give us a call and let’s talk digital.

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Hayley is Flicker Leap's Creative Director and heads up the Creative team.

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