Urgent care facilities and “doc in a box” are among the fastest growing segments in healthcare.
It is estimated that the industry generates about $15 billion annually, and for most Americans in urban and suburban areas, the urgent care facility has become a household name, due to its ease and cost effectiveness when compared to hospital emergency rooms. Easy access and reasonable pricing structures make it an appealing proposition for most. Among those investing in opening new urgent care facilities, there are healthcare systems, private insurance providers, and local hospitals.
The simplicity of the business model is at the core of the exponential growth of this industry: treat as many patients as possible, as quickly as possible. Additionally, in direct contrast to emergency rooms, urgent care facilities do not have a legal obligation to take the uninsured, or accept federally sponsored programs such as Medicaid.
Those tasked with the online and offline marketing of this type of service have plenty of advantages but also are faced with fierce competition. Knowing how to best position your urgent care clinic to maximize traffic and earn as much repeat business as possible is essential to the success of any urgent care location.
A key aspect of a well-managed marketing strategy rests in the ability to establish a strong online reputation, with representation across all relevant third-party review websites.
Generally, however, urgent care facilities are often behind when it comes to securing online reviews, as compared to private medical practices. Let’s take a look at four ways urgent care facilities and “doc in a box” clinics can leverage their strengths to get ahead in the online reputation game.
Tip 1: Diversify Your Online Presence
You can’t rely exclusively on recall. If you want to stay ahead of the race in the area of online reputation and review management, you need to stay on top of your diversification strategy.
Conduct search analysis for your region, and find out how potential patients are searching for healthcare. Make a concerted effort to have user-friendly profiles that are detail-rich, and invite potential patients to utilize the whole array of services provided by your urgent care.
Don’t silo yourself to emergencies only. Taking advantage of routine services such as physicals, vaccinations, and preventative care will help your strategy by increasing patient flow, even during low hours.
Start by listing your urgent care on the most popular sites for doctor reviews, and then expand your strategy to make sure your clinic is listed on more generic sites such as Yelp, Google+, and Facebook. Diversification always results in amplification and increased reach. Patients whose search for immediate medical help is broad instead of specific may decide to give your facility a try in lieu of a traditional family practice.
Tip 2: Create a Culture of People, Not a Brand
Make every effort to train your staff, from medical doctors to nurse practitioners and front office staff, and foster a culture of personalization and affinity.
Don’t let the patient feel like he or she is just a number. Instead, be diligent about establishing a doctor-patient relationship based on trust, and make a connection. The patient should walk out of your facility feeling healthier but also knowing his or her provider by first and last name.
Why? Because reviews associated with medical care are seldom about a facility. (In fact, a study has pointed out that patients care more about bedside manner and customer service than medical expertise and professional experience.) Give every patient that walks through your door something good to say about your people.
As you explore potential strategies to improve your online reputation, why not have your practitioners list on review sites with their own name, in addition to the urgent care’s main profile? By providing a physician-specific listing, you will allow for patients to provide reviews that are specific to the doctor who provided the service.
Doctor-specific reviews are far more helpful when it comes to pinpointing operational or personnel issues, and more effective in securing additional business leads from review sites.
At an operational level, work on creating standard procedures and facility improvements that make every patient feel cared for at a personal level. Work on first impressions, and have a waiting room that focuses on superior hospitality, with details such as a sanitizing station and a complimentary beverage station. Details do count, and patients often speak about them in online reviews.
Tip 3: Measure and Understand Patient Satisfaction
One of the best things a healthcare provider can do to improve their online and offline reputation is to understand what patients truly think about them. When conducting patient satisfaction surveys, healthcare providers must be cognizant of protecting patient privacy; thus, simplified feedback is probably the safest approach.
One of the most effective ways to secure actionable data about patient satisfaction is to roll a post-visit NPS survey. (Note that in order to push a survey, a provider must first request permission during the admissions process. Make sure your registration forms include a request for contact, for marketing purposes, and have patients acknowledge and authorize your outreach efforts.)
A Net Promoter Score survey will help you point your marketing and operational dollars where they are needed the most, and will give you a sense of where you are heading as far as customer loyalty and repeat business.
Tip 4: Leverage Tools to Drive Bookings Online
When someone is unwell, one of the best services a healthcare provider can extend is speed and ease. In addition to the ability to simply walk in to your clinic, look into how you can activate online booking for appointments through platforms like, say, ZocDoc.
Direct access to your availability may prove useful in filling low-traffic hours, while allowing patients to feel empowered when selecting the time and date they want to be seen.
As a marketing leader for urgent care clinics, you have many things in your favor. Maximize your strategic advantages by making sure you are engaging at the same level as family clinics and other providers. Your flexibility, affordability, and ease in access paired with a superior online reputation are the secrets for success and increased profitability.