People go to doctors for many reasons: they need an annual physical, they have a short-term sickness, they're chronically ill, they need surgery, they're getting an elective procedure ... well, you get the idea.
Many people are intimidated by doctors and doctors' offices, which can be stressful even for those who are electing to have procedures.
As someone trying to make a living in the healthcare industry, however, you need to find ways to combat these feelings in your current patients, because even people you've been treating for years might still feel nervous when they come to see you.
The best way to do this is with a strong marketing strategy that includes all facets of what you do – from a user-friendly website to the aesthetics of your office to your “bedside manner.” The marketing and communication you put forward sets the tone of how your patients’ visits will go, so how are you marketing and communicating to your patients?
Consider the following tips for improving your patients’ experiences:
Redesign Your Website
The first thing many people do when they're sick or looking for a place to have an elective procedure (laser eye surgery, for example), is turn to the internet. Sometimes they’re going online to diagnose themselves; other times, they’re searching “X doctor in X zip code.” An appealing website is a strong marketing tactic to keep potential patients on your site when Google leads them to your proverbial door.
Consider these website elements:
- Testimonials. If you read any of our content, you know exactly what we're going to say next: get testimonials. They're the most important content you can have when you're hoping for new patients. Why? Because many people – myself included – use testimonials to gauge how an experience at a doctor's office will be. (No offense, but of course you think you're great.) For example, I didn't take the doctor's word on his LASIK skills – I read patient testimonials. Even though it was an elective procedure doesn't mean I wasn't worried about going blind!
- Pare Down the Navigation Options. Most people visit medical websites because they're looking for something specific – what you treat, what insurance you accept, your office hours, and how to make an appointment. Make it easy for them; if your website is easy to use and patient-friendly, people will assume that your practice is too.
Rethink Your Office
Put yourself in a patient’s shoes. When you walk into your office, how do you feel? Are the receptionists easily accessible? Are they friendly and welcoming? Your front office staff is your first line of defense when it comes to marketing your physical space.
Also, consider your office's color scheme. A lot of medical establishments utilize the color blue because various studies – from patient surveys to American Psychological Association studies – indicate that blue is considered serene and relaxing. Other times, however, blue is used to describe sadness – commercials for depression medication often include a narrator who asks if you're "tired of feeling blue."
The studies went on to say that people find that yellow elicits feelings of friendliness and warmth (think: the sun). Why not try yellow? Or white, which is considered clean (great for a doctor’s office) and virtuous. Avoid red, which people associate with anger and aggression, and gray because Eeyore is gray, and, well, we all know about Eeyore.
Color hue is important too. A shade of blue that mimics the sky on a beautiful summer’s day IS serene and relaxing. And although yellow equals friendliness and warmth, be careful to stay away from neon-ish yellow hues, as they can be reminiscent of cautionary traffic signs.
Reconsider Your Communication
There are a lot of acronyms and unpronounceable medications in the medical field, and it's one of the reasons going to the doctor is intimidating. I was sick once, so I went to the doctor and got a prescription and got home and realized ... I had no idea what was actually wrong with me.
Now I go to the doctor armed with my symptoms and questions on a physical piece of paper. Otherwise, I get nervous and forget to mention something or ask an important question. I don’t leave until I know my diagnosis and how to take my medicine.
Some people aren't that assertive, though, so you need to be proactive for them. Consider creating a form that includes things you need your patients to know, things you think they might want to know, and then leave space for their questions. Make copies, write everything down while you’re seeing the patient, and send the page home with them. (Even tattoo artists send you home with an aftercare sheet.)
By using strong marketing tactics that make patients less scared/intimidated to come to your office offers double rewards – satisfied, loyal patients who are happy to refer other patients. Win-win, right?
Not sure where to get started? Give us a call!