Web advancements over the last decade have had a unique impact on the healthcare industry. From the way patients select physicians to the system in which medical records are accessed and updated, the web is becoming a more integral part in the dramatic reinvention of healthcare delivery - and fast.
As new technology emerges, the web serves as a vital resource for a wealth of health and wellness information. Despite evidence of these trends, many health systems and hospitals are largely absent online. Because the online movement will only continue to grow, tapping into the online marketing arena has every potential to expand a business's audience and set it apart from competitors.
Check out these five surprising stats to better understand how online trends are already affecting the healthcare market:
1. 77% of patients use search prior to booking a healthcare appointment. (Source: Google)
The majority of people use search to help them determine which healthcare provider is right for them. Because such a high percentage of potential patients have already adapted to this online platform, the necessity for healthcare systems and hospitals to focus funds on search engine optimization (SEO) is becoming more prevalent. Getting your brand at the top of related keyword searches is more important than ever. Incorporating good keyword research, catchy page titles and descriptions as well as structured data into your online marketing plan are key elements in achieving effective SEO.
2. 72% of people have searched for healthcare and wellness information online in the last year. (Source: Pew Internet)
In general, online marketing is undergoing a major shift from promotional marketing to content marketing. The healthcare industry can respond to this shift by producing more meaningful content through the usage of blogs and articles containing helpful information about disease prevention and general wellness. This type of content has the power to build audience trust, which positively influences their decision to buy. If a business does not have the internal capacity to do so, outsourcing content marketing efforts to an agency can be a great alternative - as long as they write original content to be produced on your domain.
3. 1/3 of patients use tablets or mobile devices to research and/or book appointments each day. (Source: Google)
As tablets and mobile devices become a more popular medium for search, it is important to understand the implications it will have on healthcare marketing. Consumers now assign credibility to websites that provide a user-friendly experience on a variety of devices. Building responsive websites is the new standard in website development, allowing for a natural transition between desktop to mobile. From an SEO perspective, Google recognizes responsive web design as the industry best practice, meaning these types of websites preform better in search.
4. 27% of time online in the United States is spent on social network sites. (Source: Marketing Land)
There is no doubt that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are a popular medium for communication among users, but have you considered using these sites to build your brand and audience? A major concern among the healthcare industry is that social media opens up a platform for negative feedback and complaints that can hurt business reputation. The truth is, however, leveraging social media allows businesses to respond to these comments and demonstrate responsive customer service. Even more, social media sites are an excellent way for health systems and hospitals to engage and inform current and potential patients, as well as develop social signals back to their site to boost SEO.
5. One of the most commonly researched healthcare topics are doctors. (Source: Pew Internet)
Web users use search engines to gain information about doctors and medical professionals before making important decisions about their healthcare. Above all, patients want to make sure that they are putting their health in the hands of a trusted, reputable medical team. One of the most important things health systems and hospitals can do to gain and retain patients is to provide updated doctor profiles, track comments and reviews online and claim local listings on sites like Google, Bing and Yelp. The more accurate information a business provides on their own site, the less likely patients will go to other sites to obtain potentially inaccurate information.
Healthcare Marketing with an Emphasis on Results
The bottom line is that the web affects consumer decisions. As consumers continue to adapt to new trends like social media, mobile devices and personalized search, the healthcare industry has the powerful opportunity to reach a wider, more influential audience by utilizing online marketing techniques. Set your brand apart by taking advantage of results-driven online marketing services for optimal growth and visible results.
Where do you see the future of online marketing headed? What other opportunities or challenges do you foresee? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.