Patient Acquisition is Changing and it Starts With Search

Photo by Julian Wan on Unsplash

Among the many changes the digital revolution brought to healthcare, one of the most fundamental is how online resources impact customer acquisition. At one time people would go straight to a hospital network to find doctors and same-day care, but today the consumer pathway is fractured.

Patients rely on third-party sites with convenient tools allowing them to find providers, local clinics and offices, and narrow down and localize their care search.

Digital platforms like ZocDoc, Healthgrades and Solv offer easy, one-stop shops to connect patients with medical professionals, as well as book same-day appointments and urgent care visits.

These platforms are built to localize organic Google results, and rely on a search interface with filters to capture intent and enable self-selection of care.

Even WebMD, the longtime and popular resource for people looking for medical information, offers a booking service filterable by type of insurance, distance, ratings and other popular search functions.

One result of this shift is healthcare networks have to ensure their data is syndicated and that it’s up to date, and from a strategic standpoint, fundamentally change how they view customer acquisition.

The digital mindset

A big piece of rethinking customer acquisition begins with understanding the ongoing trend of the retailization of healthcare. This means taking into account the evolution of consumer expectations largely driven by e-commerce. People expect to be able to go online and find what they need, when they need it, and to be able to get that need fulfilled easily and conveniently. And organic visibility, localization, and a powerful search interface are pieces to optimize demand generation and to convert more appointments.

Digital marketing tactics such as search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are an essential part of any customer acquisition strategy. Healthcare businesses should take the time to ensure their online experience is optimized for critical SEO elements like performance and site/app speed. The website and app should also provide visitors and users with a clean, relevant and easy to navigate user experience that powered by search.

Another element of a successful SEO strategy is content marketing. Healthcare systems have a deep-bench of content marketing resources – basic medical information geared toward people searching the internet, success stories on past accomplishments, and testimonials from satisfied patients to name three-easy-to-tap resources. But to maximize the SEO value of these resources there needs to be a strategy in place to best present and make that valuable content discoverable across channels.

SEO isn’t the only piece of the changing customer acquisition puzzle. But in a marketplace where the competition is growing — and from non-traditional pathways to find care — offering one-stop convenience, a successful SEO strategy is the first step to improve customer acquisition.