Consumers are demanding a more active role in making healthcare choices. This is one of the most significant changes taking place in the industry and one we’ve talked about extensively via our webinars, whitepapers and articles. However, consumers aren’t the only constituents that hospitals must target to develop business. Hospitals are placing renewed focus on improving physician relations and physician sales.
While the relationship between physicians and hospitals are often complex and occasionally strained, the fact is: for a hospital to be successful, their doctors need to be successful. Nearly all physicians are online as are a great many patients that are looking for physicians. As a result, the Web is a great place to be promoting your physicians and supplementing the other physician relations programs that you have in place.
As online marketing and communications professionals, there are ways you can help your hospital improve its relationship with physicians:
- Open a communication channel with physicians: If you have an executive willing to commit to it, create a blog from your CEO, chief medical officer or physician relations executive. It can be a good platform for communicating with physicians while allowing feedback and engagement. Not ready for comments? Try an email newsletter instead.
- Give your physicians an online presence: You likely have a physician directory. First, make sure the physician information is correct and complete. Then enhance it. There are many ways to make it a better resource for health consumers looking for a physician. You could add physician videos. Or build out individual physician microsites (do mind STARK laws, however). Make the most of your directory by arming your physician relations staff with statistics on how many times each doctor came up in searches and how many people viewed their information.
- Promote your physicians online: Make the most of the online presence you’ve created for your physicians by employing organic search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. (Doctors love to ego surf – believe me.) Perhaps you could even invest in search engine marketing (SEM) to advertise their practice or the special services they offer (again – make sure you know your STARK). And most importantly, promote physicians throughout your website, especially near relevant content. Physicians who want more exposure could also be featured in an Ask The Expert feature on your site.
- Use online resources to connect with physicians for recruiting: When physicians look for jobs, they look online. In addition to posting positions on your site, more and more organizations are using social media to reach employment prospects with a more personal touch. Another great technique is to use videos of current physicians on your site to talk about the practice and the benefits of working for your organization.
- Make referral easy: Physicians (and their office staff) want to be able to easily refer patients and find out what happened during the hospital visit. Use online tools. You can give schedulers direct online access to calendars for scheduling tests. Then through a physician portal, you can close the communications loop by providing feedback regarding the visit.