How to Personalize Your Online Presence for Patients

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05/30/2019 in Blog

When patients connect with a new provider, they want to know that provider won't view them as simply another patient to treat. They're looking for a provider who will forge a relationship with them personally — as Carrie, the real estate agent with cystic fibrosis, or as Daniel, the avid cyclist with a fractured scapula. For this reason, a provider's digital presence needs to convey a deep commitment to patients as individuals — indicating that providers will not only treat patients but also offer them a personalized care experience.

According to Deloitte research, patients prioritize personalization when selecting providers, and 75% seek a partnership with providers when working through their treatment options. So, focusing on personalization when building a provider or health system's online presence is step number one in attracting today's patients. By personalizing each touchpoint along the consumer journey, your organization stands the highest chance of attracting the right patients — those with whom your organization can form the strongest relationships and deliver the highest quality of care.

These five steps will get you started building a more personalized online presence:

1. Understand Which Patients You're Addressing
Personalizing your online presence means you're not just addressing everyone in your market — you're seeking the patients most likely to benefit from your organization's care. Clarify who those patients are. Here, it's helpful to create detailed patient personas that represent groups or segments of your ideal patients: over 50s athletes with lower extremity joint pain, females of childbearing age, and so on. By using these personas to direct outreach efforts, you can hone in on personal, specific messaging that resonates directly with these patients.

With the robust data and segmentation capabilities of a healthcare CRM, you can build more accurate lists of patient personas, then test which messaging and content types resonate most with these groups, across marketing channels — measuring click-through rates, time on page, online chatter, conversions, and more. As time goes on, you may realize your personas need tweaking or that specific kinds of content tend to drive more downstream revenue than others — a CRM can help you to refine and focus all of these efforts, furthering your personalization goals.

2. Ensure Provider Presence is Personalized
Provider bios are one of the most critical touchpoint along the patient journey. When evaluating providers, 94% of patients check review sites like Healthgrades, according to Software Advice research. You can use this Healthgrades profile to set your providers apart — conveying their unique approaches to making a strong, personal connection with patients. For instance, use the About Me section of Healthgrades profiles to explain provider strengths — an individual approach to providing patient-centered care, a particular expertise with certain treatments or conditions, or unique tools or services your organization provides to help create a personalized care experience.

Be sure to call out other factors that help distinguish your providers as well. For example, do they have fluency with a particular language? Extensive experience with patients of a particular type? Specific credentials that bolster their credibility? Make sure you're also filling out high-interest fields, like conditions treated and procedures performed. Details like these help ensure that patients not only find the right providers through search but also become convinced that they're the best choice for their care.

And don't forget to add a picture! A majority of patients will select a physician with a lower rating, but that includes a picture, over a physician with a higher rating, but no headshot, according to research from The Academy.

3. Personalize Your Organization's Website
Above all, a health system website needs to cater directly to patients, personally. Ask yourself: is our website it easy to navigate? Can patients easily find relevant information and resources specific to their unique medical concerns? Is it easy to book an appointment or reach out to office staff with questions? Do we offer online scheduling? Is our site readable on a mobile device? In today's digital economy, a seamless online experience is tantamount to showing patients that you're dedicated to their care.

Beyond this, you should ensure that messaging on your health system website or practice site neatly aligns with provider profiles — nothing helps dispel a personalized impression like inconsistent or conflicting information. Along those lines, make sure that all information is up-to-date, accurate, and compelling.

If possible, feature patient stories prominently on your health system website. No matter the credentials or expertise of providers, few details resonate more personally with an audience than stories about a patient's unique journey to health.

4. Personalize Your Online Content
Content marketing and social media provide one of the most effective ways to make a personal connection with patients — distinguishing your organization and providers as go-to experts and thought leaders for personalized care. With these channels, marketers should share specific, concrete content about topics that matter to the target audience: explainers about particular conditions, how-to guides for navigating treatment, or articles and videos about an organization's unique approach to care.

Sharing personal stories of patients themselves is especially important. Whether they're text (articles and pull quotes), audio recordings, or video, patient stories convey the unique depth, compassion, and thoughtfulness — the human touch — that your organization and practices can provide, validated by the voices of patients themselves. Incorporate these stories into your marketing materials, and of course, feature them on your website.

5. Personalize Your Reputation
Nothing speaks to the true experience someone has with a provider like the opinions of previous patients, which is why review sites like Healthgrades are critical touchpoints for patients searching for personalized care. Encourage your health system's patients to post reviews about their unique experiences — lending clarity and insight into the strengths of your practice. The more engagement you can drive here, the better. Consumers are more likely to choose a provider with a higher number of ratings than one with a perfect rating, reports The Academy.

If possible, providers should respond personally to patients — to thank them, express gratitude, or comment on their experience. Likewise, if a patient leaves a negative review, it's just as important — often more so — to engage. Demonstrate that providers care deeply about the concerns of patients, that they're committed to taking a patient's individual experience seriously, no matter their case or situation. By growing providers' review presence and personalizing their reputation management, potential patients will gain a much clearer sense of their true ability to personalize care.

The key to effective patient engagement is to market to patients, the specific patients in your market, as individuals — convincing them that your organization not only addresses their unique care needs but also works to develop strong relationships with them, as people. These 5 strategies will help you further personalize your health system's online presence, providing patients with the insight needed to choose a provider partner with confidence.
Want to learn more about optimizing your digital presence to attract and convert more patients? Read one health system's success story.