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Medical Marketing Tips: Responding to Shifting Patient Behavior

The key to responding to rapidly changing events and patient behavior is automation! This is included in the GOLD service from PatientGain

Websites are not always as graceful as they may seem in the movies. It often takes time to change a website to respond to the evolving behaviors in patients. The time it takes for you to change something on your site to meet the changing needs and behaviors of a patient may be long enough for that patient to look elsewhere for their healthcare needs. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted this need to adjust to changing patient behavior. A patient’s needs, expectations, and actions changed rapidly with the influx of new information, CDC recommendations, and is some cases, travel restrictions put into place. Many medical clinics struggled to accommodate these needs, and some are still operating with a pre-COVID-19 website that does not address any concerns. Those who did not adapt to this new environment and patient behavior struggled to keep their patient count up. Some were so severely impacted; they had to close temporarily until they could recognize their workflow or went entirely out of business.

The key to responding to rapidly changing events and patient behavior is automation!

If your website is set up to respond to patients, regardless of their needs, it will be better positioned to handle any rapid changes in healthcare decision making. Chances are you will still need to make some adjustments to your website, as it is impossible to anticipate every upcoming event that will change patient behavior. However, if you apply some automation to your website, you will be better equipped to take on new challenges. Below are some areas of your website you could automate for your patients. Many medical practices are already utilizing these automation concepts on their sites. Do not be the last one one your community to make your website work harder for you.

Online Appointments

Online appointments are a great way to automate the patient intake process at your medical practice. Previously, this would be a very manual process. A patient would have to:

• Call the clinic
• Speak with a receptionist
• A receptionist would have to check the schedule
• If a requested time was unavailable, a patient would have to check their calendar to see if the alternate times worked for them
• The receptionist would record the appointment time

Of course, this would only happen during business hours and if the receptionist picked up. If the medical practice was busy or after hours, a patient would have to leave a message. This process would start all over again if the practice and patient played “phone tag” and had difficulty connecting.

With online appointments, the power of making an appointment resides in a patient. The schedule updates automatically for the medical practice, and other patients as appointments are made. If a new medical concern appears, like COVID-19, you can easily insert a new “reason” into the online scheduling system. Often, these “appointment reasons” will appear before a content page is thoroughly flushed out. Patients who need a new service or to be checked out for something do not need a content page to review. They need to make an appointment to be seen as soon as possible.

Online appointments will allow current and potential patients to see what slots are available for treatments. Without this schedule published, your front desk could find itself inundated with phone calls from people looking for an appointment. They could arrive every morning with dozens of voice mail messages asking for appointments and treatments. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, this would not be uncommon during a busy flu season. While online appointments will not eliminate phone calls, it should help cut down on many of them. Some patients will still not understand how online appointments work or call asking for a favor to be “slipped” in somehow to a doctor’s schedule.

Medical Engagement Chatbots

Having your website communicate with patients is another excellent way to introduce some automation to your medical practice. A medical engagement chatbot simulates a conversation with a patient through the website to answer questions or accomplish tasks. A chatbot on a medical practice’s website saves hours of phone calls, voice messages, and callbacks for simple problems. As great as your website may be designed, some people will always need help getting information or finding the right webpage. Some of the most common things a medical chatbot will assist patients with include:

• Contact information
• Hours of operation
• Services offered
• Information about a specific service
• Creating an appointment
• Leave a message

During the COVID-19 pandemic, patients did not want to click through menus to find information about a brand-new virus. Many just wanted to know, “Do you test for COVID-19?” or “Can you treat me for COVID-19?” These questions could easily be handled by a medical engagement Chabot, giving current or potential patients immediate answers they needed and links for them to learn more. A medical engagement chatbot can convert website visitors into patients before they look elsewhere for healthcare information. It will guide them in choosing your clinic as the place to get their care.

Another advantage of medical chatbots is that they generally can be updated quickly. If a new health concern becomes widespread, you may not have a service page ready or update to address these concerns. While it is being developed and published, quick questions can be updated into a chatbot. As mentioned above, COVID-19 questions can be quickly answered with a “Yes, please call the clinic, do not visit without calling,” or a more detailed answer can be presented. Granted, this may increase the calls to your front desk, but more importantly, they are calling your medical clinic and not a competitor.

Promotional or Specials That Appear and Disappeared Automatically

A time-based promotion or special can help drive in traffic without bogging down your staff or website manager with taking up or pulling down pages. If done manually, your promotion may not be up and running when you promote it on other channels, or it may continue to run long after you wanted it to end. However, if you automate the start and stop of a special or promotion, you avoid both problems. The use of promotions and service specials is something that Med Spas regularly do to increase business on slower days. For example, they may notice that Tuesday or Wednesday may be a little slow when people want to book facials or massages. To increase patient traffic, they may offer specials or promotions that are only valid on these two days of the week. By automating these promotions, they can make them appear every Tuesday and Wednesday and vanish the other days of the week without lifting a finger.

Automating promotions allows you to promote different services on different days of the week as needed. By adjusting your advertisements’ times, you can promote various services, different days of the week. A static page that just lists every single time-based promotion you have can be confusing, leading to frustrations from patients. While you would hope everyone reads the details of a promotion, many see a deal and immediately depart for a business. Automated time-based promotions and specials can go a long way in helping you increase business.

Another advantage a promotions and specials app bring to your website is that it can capture contact information. Many apps will want contact information from a patient to reveal or release a promotion or special for them. A medical practice can then use this information to market directly to them even if they do not use the special or promotion. The fact that they were interested enough to submit their contact information gives a medical clinic a clue of what promotions are working well on what days and what promotions are not. Many businesses will test, which promotes work on which days to maximize their effectiveness.

Paying A Bill Online

Running a healthcare business means you need to pay bills. To pay your bills, your patients need to pay their bills. Regardless if you get all of your payments through insurance companies or not, your patients will, at the very least, have co-pays or coinsurance to pay. Sending them a bill and waiting for them to mail back a check or call to pay over the phone can put pressure on your finances and take up the valuable time of your staff to process those payments. By offering online bill paying, your outstanding accounts can be paid, money deposited into your accounts, and your team is free to help patients with more demanding needs. You can even send patients friendly reminders of overdue invoices with a link inside an email to help them pay you.

Sending money over the internet to people and businesses is very common today. However, not all services that handle these transactions are the same. Some medical practice uses big-name services like PayPal for all of their online bill paying needs. This is undoubtedly is an economical and easy way to handle it. With that said, an embedded and integrated online bill-paying system does make your website look more professional. Sending money through PayPal is generally associated with sending money to friends, buying some artwork from a local artisan, or winning an auction on eBay. An integrated, secure, and organized invoicing system on your website is a better choice for a medical practice. Also, you may be able to get better processing rates, then you would expect from a large digital transaction company. Shop around, find a service that works with your website, and keep outstanding invoices organized.

Update Your Website With Well Written, Informative, Engaging Content

Your website is designed and written to address your community’s current needs. When a new health concern appears, your site may not have the content ready to tackle it. That specific issue is not uncommon and will sneak up on many medical practices. No one was ready for the COVID-19 pandemic and had prewritten content to publish for people to consume. However, savvy medical practice owners who were paying attention to national and international health news immediately began to write content to address this growing concern. If a medical practice was starting to consider writing content after everything had shut down, they were already too late. When new content is written, it takes a while for search engines to crawl it and have it become relevant in search results. For those who published COVID-19 related pages in late January or early February, they were in an excellent position to catch related searches in March and April when the pandemic went nationwide.

COVID-19 is an extreme case of international health issues suddenly impacting your community. A more common concern would be an outbreak of a disease like measles or meningitis. A family practice in a community where this occurred can probably help screen and treat this issue. However, they likely do not have content pages dedicated to it. While they may put out social media posts and email blasts about it, they also need to start writing content pages. Their current patients and potential patients may look to them for information. If a competitor beats them to it with publishing information, they might steal those patients for treatment. As a medical clinic owner, you need to keep tabs on what health issues impact your community. If you see something your business provides services for, ensure you have a service page full of engaging content to inform people you are the best choice for them. can help you automate your website! We have many apps that can fill the needs mentioned above, and other aspects of your website you did not know, could be automated. These apps are available as individual stand-alone services, or you can get access to many of them by subscribing to our Gold Package. Make an appointment today with our experts and let us show you what our automated apps can do for your medical practice or healthcare business. We can help you save your employee’s time and increase the conversion rate of your website. We have helped many clients in a variety of different medical fields and are ready to assist you!