I’d been working in diagnostic testing sales with a big public company for many years in Fairfield County CT, selling, marketing and educating doctors on emerging testing. In and out of offices, sometimes 8 in a day, running seminars, hosting luncheons, popping in unexpectedly, any way I could to get in front of the doctors and have them pay attention to me and the $180 lunch my company had just bought them all in the name of 20 minutes of their undivided attention.
I got to know my doctors, and their staff. I learned the tricky back door ways to get to them (which didn’t even include a complimentary pen or calender) and for a while I succeeded at focussing them; for a while.
By 2008 however all that started to change. The shift was palpable. Increasingly “face time” became more and more difficult. The stress levels were evident in the faces of the office staff, and when I could get to the doctors, in the haggard looks they threw my way. Exhaustion prevailed. Electronic Medical Records? By what year? Or else what? Penalized? Come on. And where the patients were once banging down the doors, the Family and General Practitioners were now hurting, and having to lure their once a year well care patients in for their yearly check ups. People were losing their jobs and their health care, and suddenly a co-pay on something non-essential seemed unnecessary. Ob-Gyn’s were paying upwards of $250,000 before even turning on their lights because of skyrocketing liability costs. People were losing their jobs and their health care, and suddenly a co-pay on something non-essential seemed unnecessary.
Add to that the ever diminishing reimbursement issues. I don’t have to spell it out; doctors are living this every day. Seeing more and more patients for less and less has become the weary norm, and from this other issues have emerged. Issue’s like competition. They needed more patients, but fewer and fewer were coming their way. Where as recent as five years prior people came to their doctors via word of mouth or referrals, now potential patients were searching for their doctors on search engines and through the online review sites. Ouch!
Marketing was never something doctors thought they would have to do, and yet here we are in this brave new world where every service, especially local ones, including health care- is being searched for on Google. Get used to it, Dr. Smith. It’s a new dawn!
Often times I hear “But I have a good website, isn’t that enough? ” Well, no actually. Search engine optimization was created to increase traffic to your website, and you want patients coming to your website for a reason. Patients will only find sites that have been optimized; otherwise they end up on page 6 of the search engine. When was the last time you scrolled to page 6 to find something? Search engines only find websites which have been optimized, meaning, designed with specific SEO practices where pains have been taken to “rank” their site towards the top of the “organic” or unpaid section of the search engine, thereby making you and your practice more visible. Think of it this way: what good is a great website if it can’t be found? Medical firm SEO and internet marketing has become a necessary component of your medical practice.