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The Online Patient Migration

As birds migrate north in the spring, there’s a similar migration happening to your online patients. The only difference — your migrating patients are not returning to their original destination.

With the steady increase of mobile device usage, the migration was bound to happen. People are moving away from your website and taking flight to third-party platforms such as Yelp, Vitals, RealSelf, Healthgrades®, and even social media to learn about and contact your practice. The important question to ask yourself: Are you on these platforms and ready to communicate with your patients? The answer: You should be.

As these third-party platforms increase in popularity, they are starting to show up higher in search results than your own site, therefore shrinking your market share. Patients are on the move, and to hold or gain market share you must to go the patient (aka follow them). Patients are no longer seeing the need to visit your website and instead prefer to initiate contact with your practice on these third-party platforms via private messaging.

To prove this theory, RealSelf reported there are roughly 25,000 private messages happening within its platform. And 40% of these messages go unanswered. Practices just aren’t equipped to monitor these platforms yet, but they should be.

SEO Today Isn’t Enough to Maintain or Grow Online Market Share

  • Be focused on top rankings in local (map) search results.
  • Cultivate a positive presence on major review sites; you can’t bury your head in the sand anymore. Yelp is visible in the medical space, and data show that consumption of doctor reviews are second only to the consumption of reviews for restaurants.
  • Being well represented on these third-party websites increases your chance of capturing the patient who wants to communicate there.
  • Accumulate a social following like you are mining gold. Some patients will want to communicate with you only on these platforms rather than by email or phone.

To put all of this simply, respond. Do it quickly. The optimal response time for new patient email is 5 minutes! Don’t make them wait. If new patients wait 30 minutes or more, the odds of connecting with them will drop 100-fold. Yikes!

Carve out 12 minutes of your day and watch Etna Interactive President Ryan Miller discuss this trending migration.

It’s time to get your patients to take flight to your office.

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