The center of the healthcare universe is clearly shifting, placing physicians and physician groups squarely at the top. And with a greater emphasis being placed on physicians, the role of the Web in physician promotion becomes even more important.
What Are We Trying to Accomplish?
Ultimately, the goal is to make the Web a more effective intake tool for physicians. This requires us to enhance the Web’s role in building physician awareness, providing information as visitors work through their decision-making process, and giving them the opportunity to engage.
Building awareness is most often the focus of our online physician promotion efforts. But like many other campaigns, thinking through the entire process will improve the value the Web delivers.
Core to your awareness building program is optimizing your physician directory pages for organic search engine placement. These rules are no different than for other SEO initiatives – good content that’s rich with relevant keywords should be followed by meaningful page titles, page descriptions, metatags, URLs and an effective HTML structure. Links to pages are also a critical part of search algorithms, so provide links to your physician pages from within the site and from outside sites.
Improving your physicians’ online visibility isn’t limited to SEO though. Search engine marketing and other pay-per-click advertising techniques can help achieve top placement. Social media including Facebook, Twitter, blogging and YouTube are also good channels for getting physicians’ names out there.
The target landing page from your awareness campaign is likely to be the physician’s profile page. As with any campaign, what visitors see when they arrive on the page is as important as what information got them there.
The basics need to be covered – details of the physician’s education and residency, professional certifications, publications, areas of research interest and contact information. These are the “must-have” items, but often aren’t useful to consumers who are selecting a physician.
Health consumers look for a variety of information. Recommendations by others is important. A rating or comment system is helpful, but this option is politically unpalatable for most organizations. Personal statements about their practice philosophy or videos of physicians demonstrating their personal style and expertise can also help patients select a physician with confidence.
Providing Opportunities to Engage
How can your site visitors take the step to becoming a patient? It’s best to provide visitors a way to interact with you online. When you ask an online visitor to call, you often lose a portion of your audience.
There are a number of options for you to engage visitors online – you have physician directories, appointment requests, referral forms, and class sign ups. Make sure to place appropriate calls-to-action prominently on the page and use design techniques to draw the visitor’s eyes to the calls-to-action. And of course, make sure you have a way to track leads coming from the Web.
With careful thought and effort, most health systems can support their physicians online better than they do today. To learn more about how to effectively promote your physicians online, watch our webinar, Promote Your Physicians and Medical Groups.