A good bedside manner — especially in our increasingly digital world — can make all the difference when it comes to patient recruitment and retention.
More and more patients are turning to online reviews when searching for a physician, which is why it’s essential for medical practices to cultivate a distinct and engaged online presence.
These reviews can give potential patients a sense of what to expect at the doctor’s office, but there’s an element of subjectivity to be taken into account. What one patient finds direct and clear, another may find brusque or rude. So how should medical practices respond? By learning how to market a warm, respectful, and knowledgeable bedside manner.
This means engaging in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media, and other digital marketing strategies that emphasize the humanity of healthcare providers. Here are a few strategies medical practices can use to convey their personality and values to potential patients.
Put the Patient First
Procedures that seem routine and everyday to doctors can actually be incredibly intimidating for patients. Studies show that patients don’t trust doctors as much as they used to, so the first — and perhaps most important — step is to put the patient at ease. One simple way to do this is to avoid jargon in favor of accessible language.
The purpose here is two-fold. First, medical marketers are making themselves accessible to a wider base of potential customers. Second, by speaking directly to patients, providers are giving them the information they need to actively engage with their own health in ways they understand. It might seem obvious, but making sure patients are part of the conversation is a step that many providers skip over.
The ubiquitousness of smartphones means that most people can quickly do a web search of their symptoms if they’re feeling unwell. In some cases, this can lead to self-diagnosing using less than reputable sources.
However, while doctors are indeed trained professionals, patients are the ones who know their bodies best. What works for one person may not work for another. Heart attack symptoms, for instance, present differently in women than they do in men, which means that many women — who have actually had heart attacks — have gone untreated.
For this reason, it’s imperative that healthcare providers actively listen to patients’ concerns. Once they have done so, the doctor can then offer their professional opinion without being dismissive or patronizing. Incorporating this approach into a practice’s culture — and even stating this perspective on the website or in PPC ads — is another way to market a good bedside manner.
Profile the Professionals
A picture, the saying goes, is worth a thousand words. A video that lets patients see and hear their new doctor? That’s priceless.
Even if they’ve read the reviews and done their research, visiting a new clinic or doctor’s office can still be an intimidating experience for patients. That’s why healthcare practices shouldn’t skimp on the About Us section of their websites. Elements such as video testimonials, Q&As, blogs, and photos are opportunities to give a sense of the practice’s personality and values. This content can also be used in social media posts and ads to attract new patients.
Giving the patient a glimpse into what to expect — what the office looks like, who they’ll be seeing, and so forth — goes a long way in creating a welcoming atmosphere that puts patients at ease, and helps to reassure them that they’ve made the right choice in physician, clinic, or practice.
The Finishing Touches
A good bedside manner involves more than just being kind and attentive during a check-up or procedure. Little gestures, like asking patients to leave reviews online, make them feel valued. Maintaining regular communication with patients through digital tools like texting or email once they’ve gone home is another way of ensuring that patients feel heard and conveying that their wants and needs matter to their physicians, too.
What it all boils down to is making sure patients feel respected and cared for every step of the way. This can help keep current patients engaged, as well as attract new patients to the practice.
This article previously appeared on HealthWorks Collective.