Are you looking for simple healthcare marketing tips to help grow your health or medical practice? Building a strong community connection as a practitioner is one of the most valuable ways to attract and retain new patients. You can increase both practitioner and patient satisfaction by leveraging one crucial element of human connection: community involvement.
Research increasingly supports how much we all need more genuine connections in our everyday existence and how devastating the impact of loneliness is on our health. (4) Creating a strong sense of belonging within your practice requires time, passion, and a willingness to meet people where they’re at. With the help of the nine specific strategies laid out below, you can harness the power of the community within your medical practice. Keep reading to learn more.
Did you know? According to a 2018 survey, loneliness has the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes per day—making it even more dangerous than obesity. (1)(3)
Engage your community: 9 strategies for growing your practice
There are numerous ways to harness the power of the community as a practitioner. Check out these nine simple strategies to connect with your local community, increase patient referrals, and establish a committed patient base.
James Maskell talks about the power of harnessing your community in order to grow your practice. There are 9 tips we discuss to help you.
Offer group visits or workshops
Sometimes the idea of taking on a new health journey alone can be daunting. By offering group medical visits during which a practitioner sees a group of patients experiencing the same health condition, patients and practitioners both benefit. Not only can more patients receive treatment, but it also helps healthcare providers avoid clinical burnout. Group style visits also allow practitioners to spend more time with patients compared to one-on-one appointments.
Virtual group medical visits can offer a suitable alternative when in-person visits are not possible. According to an article published in The Lancet, virtual group visits reduced appointment backlogs and provided social support for patients experiencing loneliness and isolation. Virtual group medical visits also allow for patient anonymity and enhanced privacy. Patients can choose to turn their camera off or disguise their voice if they’d prefer. (8)
Did you know? A study from 2013 found that among patients with diabetes, long-term participation in group medical visits helped reduce glycated hemoglobin (HBA1c) levels. These results are partly attributed to the social support provided by group visits. (6)
The educational and social components of group medical visits may also help patients build stronger coping skills and improve adherence to at-home treatment plans.
Start an online dialogue by blogging
Blogging is a great way to start a conversation with members of your community on health-related topics before they make an appointment. More and more patients, practitioners, and clinicians are self-organizing online communities where they talk about health. A regularly updated blog, with new content posted at least one to two times per month, on your practice website gives you more opportunities to connect with your patients. The topics you choose to write about can help establish your brand and display who you are to existing and potential clients. By consistently blogging about topics that include your case studies and trends your patients are interested in, you can build trust and establish yourself as a thought leader. (7)
A simple thank you goes a long way. Always be sure to let referring patients and colleagues know you that are grateful for their help and ask new patients how they found you. A “thank you” letter for a patient referral is an easily executed and thoughtful gesture, especially if you create and save a template for it.
Keeping small referral cards—separate from your business cards—with simple messages such as “spread the wellness” along with your office information will give your patients a way of helping you grow your practice. With referral cards, you are less likely to lose out on people trying to find you via a search engine.
Ask patients and colleagues for reviews
A huge portion of patients will read online reviews about a healthcare provider before making an appointment, even if they are referred by a family member, friend, or colleague. Don’t be afraid to ask your patients and referring doctors to give you a positive review online. (5)
Get on social media
Do you have an Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter account for your practice? Harness the marketing power of social media platforms to reach more people in your community. Social networks provide opportunities to engage and share information and ideas with your patients and beyond.
Having professional social media pages for your practice will give you the ability to engage with existing and new patients. Posting tips, news, videos, podcasts, and other relevant information will help encourage followers. The essential element of maintaining a successful online presence is frequent and consistent posting. (7)
Give patients keepsakes imprinted with your office details
Consider purchasing promotional products imprinted with your office details. Small promotional gifts serve as inexpensive marketing tools and can help improve patient retention and loyalty. (2) Examples include stress balls, tote bags, pens, water bottles, sunglasses, calendar magnets, hot and cold packs, coffee cups, tissue packs, thermometers, pocket first aid kits, headbands, or pens.
Organize or get involved with local wellness events
By being involved and setting up health-centric community events, you can quickly establish yourself as a local wellness authority. Engaging your community by organizing a bike race, 5k run, or walk-a-thon to fundraise or increase awareness for a condition can be extremely rewarding on a professional and personal level. If there is already a popular event that takes place in your community, encourage your patients to participate by organizing a social media challenge in celebration of it. For example, if your community hosts a farmers’ market, consider encouraging your patients to share their healthy recipe creations. Simply using the same hashtags associated with another event can garner attention from prospective patients.
Holding a health fair with featured local vendors where you offer free screenings, food, and other health services is another great way to get involved in your community.
Contribute to a local news source
Have you ever considered reaching out to a local news outlet to be a regular health contributor? Local journalists are always looking for a trusted health expert to provide legitimacy and context to stories. Gaining exposure by being cited in the media as a credible and established medical source is one of the best ways to attract new patients.
You can also sign up for online services such as ProfNet and Help a Reporter Out as a medical expert. Doing so will allow you to gain access to media queries and give you a platform to pitch your own stories to journalists.
Send an email newsletter to patients
If you are already writing a blog, sending out a monthly email newsletter is a great way to engage with your community regularly. Start capturing and keeping track of email addresses and contact information. You can begin by finding subscribers from your existing client base, community wellness events, and your social media followers. Furthermore, email newsletters help you stay engaged with your patients.
Quick tip: Consider frequently asked questions when creating engaging blog and newsletter content.
Use an online mail service, such as Mailchimp or Constant Contact, to create newsletter templates, and start by sending out a newsletter that includes recent blog posts, images, and links back to your website. This strategy is sure to get you more appointment requests and referrals!
The bottom line
Connecting with the local community is an excellent use of a practitioner’s time out of official clinic hours. Any of these strategies for community connection can help you expand your patient base.
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- Cigna. (2018). Cigna U.S. loneliness index. https://www.multivu.com/players/English/8294451-cigna-us-loneliness-survey/docs/IndexReport_1524069371598-173525450.pdf
- Elrod, J. K., & Fortenberry, J. L. (2020). Sales promotion in health and medicine: Using incentives to stimulate patient interest and attention. BMC Health Services Research, 20(S1), 820.
- Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., Baker, M., Harris, T., & Stephenson, D. (2015). Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(2), 227–237.
- Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., & Layton, J. B. (2010). Social relationships and mortality risk: A meta-analytic review. PLoS Medicine, 7(7), e1000316.
- Horowitz, C. R., Suchman, A. L., Branch, W. T., & Frankel, R. M. (2003). What do doctors find meaningful about their work? Annals of Internal Medicine, 138(9), 772–775.
- Housden, L., Wong, S. T., & Dawes, M. (2013). Effectiveness of group medical visits for improving diabetes care: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 185(13), E635–E644.
- Hull, L. (2020, December 22). How to build an online presence for your business in 9 simple steps. Merchant Maverick. https://www.merchantmaverick.com/creating-maintaining-online-presence-business/
- Ramdas, K., Ahmed, F., & Darzi, A. (2020). Remote shared care delivery: A virtual response to COVID-19. The Lancet Digital Health, 2(6), e288–e289.