A comprehensive digital strategy can differentiate your hospital in a competitive market. Consumers search online before making a decision to purchase almost any product or service. Where and how they shop differs – for example, some may shop for a hotel room directly on the brand’s website, while others may do a broader search and look for a third-party site such as Expedia or Kayak to help them compare prices and amenities, read customer reviews, and book. Quality, service, price, and availability are among the most important factors consumers research, often from multiple websites, before making a purchase decision. This trend of utilizing third-party sites occurs with both brand-loyal and brand-agnostic consumers.
As we’ve seen, shopping for a doctor is similar. While referrals from a PCP or family member still rank highly as a referral source, today’s engaged patients want to validate new providers with their own research before making a selection. With high-deductible plans and access to information, consumers are more personally invested and equipped to make informed decisions, thus changing the traditional process of physician referrals which is why a comprehensive digital marketing strategy is so important.
Savvy healthcare digital marketing professionals account for this trend by optimizing the hospital.com website, leveraging paid search, and managing directory listings (like Google business, etc.). However, this strategy is incomplete. Consumers are looking to validate their choices by visiting online provider review sites for peer insights and information about physician experience. Creating a robust presence on these sites can increase visibility where consumers are searching and expand the hospital’s lead generation efforts.
Recent research from Binary Fountain and Kyruus reveals that only about 35% of consumers visit a hospital website to find a physician. Typically, consumers who visit a hospital’s website are already an existing patient. Others who are searching for a primary care physician or specialist rely on Google to present broader options. Many consumers aren’t aware of the hospital a physician is affiliated with, making it harder to build brand loyalty. Even patients who may prefer one hospital over another are considering physicians from other health systems if they meet their needs and preferences.
Organizations need to leverage online review websites to either complement information about physicians or provide a bigger footprint for them to be found. By using a multi-channel digital approach, you can grow your physician referral network and lead generation efforts.
Here are some questions to ask when considering a third-party partnership:
- What sites do consumers trust to find a doctor, what features do they offer, and how can my health system convert a larger share of their audience?
A third-party partner should be capturing a significant portion of search traffic and provide an online marketplace for commercially-insured consumers who are looking to find, research, compare, and select a physician. Features should include the ability to populate physician profiles with additional information and media, as well as the ability to appoint at any time. These third-party sites should also have the ability to complement your search strategy and drive viewers to make appointments with your physicians.
2. What benefits can you expect out of a partnership with third-party sites?
When choosing which third-party sites to invest in, consider the amount of traffic arriving daily. You should expect to receive access to a large audience that supplements the visitors you have already created through your digital marketing strategies. Because these viewers are ready to take action and appoint with providers, they are more qualified leads, not just impressions or click-throughs. Get in touch with Healthgrades to learn more about expanding your brand presence and increasing net-new patients.