Few things look the same in the 21st century as they did just 30 years ago, but one thing holds true: word of mouth is a huge part of the success of your practice.

But how you generate that word of mouth, well, that’s a different story. While happy patients continue to be your best advocates, growing your orthopedic surgery practice in the digital age requires a bit more strategy.

From social media to online review sites, there is no shortage of digital channels for you to consider.

How do you manage all of this while running your practice? Our 5 Cardinal rules to growing your orthopedic practice should help. Let’s begin!

Cardinal Rule 1. Protect the reputation of you and your practice

online-reviewsGood online reviews are among the most influential factors patients consider when choosing a doctor. In fact, statistics from BrightLocal show that:

  • 80% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 60% of consumers need to read four or more review sites to form an opinion (but the average physician is rated on only 2.4 review sites)
  • Nearly half of all prospective patients say a doctor’s reputation matters

But the same can be said about negative reviews. One bad review could cause irreparable harm to your practice.

So, what can you do?

When it comes to reputation management, there are two strategies you need to tackle:

  1. Proactive reputation management
  2. Reactive reputation management

proactive-reputation-management

 

Proactive reputation management

Seeing as more and more of your prospective patients turn to online reviews to guide their decision making, you want to ensure you have a solid presence on the review sites where they search.

Focus energy on enhancing your positive online image by promoting positive patient testimonials, interacting with existing reviews, and keeping your contact information up-to-date across the web.

There are countless online review sites where prospects might venture to. Sophisticated tools can help you build a presence on each of these sites, and we recommend that be an eventual goal for you.

However, if you’re just beginning your proactive reputation management strategy, hone in on the review sites you know to be popular among your patients and geographic location.

reactive-reputation-management

 

Reactive reputation management

Building your online persona will help you contribute to the conversation; however, a reactive reputation management strategy will help you counteract negative reviews and materials.

By addressing negative reviews, while adhering to HIPAA regulations, you can lessen the impact these reviews have on your prospective patients.

You can also use reactive reputation management to know which review sites require more attention. If one review, in particular, seems to rank high on Google and consists of a negative review, you might want to encourage your patients to submit reviews to that site.

Cardinal Rule 2. Get social with your practice!

social-with-practiceSocial media is a relatively inexpensive way to reach potential customers and increase retention.

But the social media world is a scary place for many orthopedic surgeons. It’s vast, new, and overwhelming, which is why we strongly encourage developing a solid plan before you start posting to your audiences.

That plan includes:

  • Identifying your target audience
  • Finding out which social platforms they use

Once you have this information, you can begin to think of ways to enter into your audiences’ conversations through applications and advertising. The key here is to focus on the social aspect of social media. Even with paid social ads (which are key!), your goal is to come across as organic and conversational.

Cardinal Rule 3. Offer value on your website

These days, consumers (including patients) are less likely to respond to in-your-face traditional marketing tactics. Theyonsumers expect to be educated, entertained, and engaged with.

How can your practice feed into this demand? It can be as simple as creating a healthcare blog on your website.

The blog can be made up of posts focused on orthopedic issues, or you can even use that space as a forum to provide general patient information (such as tips for high school athletes on how to prevent injury).

For example, we’ve seen some doctors use their blog to respond to patients’ questions. We only suggest you add a disclaimer stating that the responses on the blog contain general information, and not a specific diagnoses or individual treatment advice.

Cardinal Rule 4. Think mobile with everything you do

social-media-imageDid you know that 1 in 4 online searches are conducted on mobile devices, and that number is increasing each day?

In fact, some studies suggest that 4 out of 10 searchers looking for healthcare-related advice and services use their mobile devices.

This means you have to make mobile a priority in order to enhance the user experience of your website.

A mobile-friendly website means more than a website that responds and adapts to various screen sizes. It means simplifying the site structure, design elements, and navigation of your site.

Simple things like the size of your call-to-action buttons matter (small buttons can be hard to see and click on).

We suggest performing a mobile audit on your website. Does your site pull the visitor in without overwhelming them? Is it easy to get to every page on your website without excessive clicks?

Today’s consumer is quick to leave a website for any reason. But mobile users are even quicker to jump ship. Make sure your mobile site keeps them on your pages.

Cardinal Rule 5. Consider reaching out to patients with emails or a newsletter

All too often we see the doctor-patient relationship end after a procedure is performed or treatment has ceased.

As we mentioned before, your current and past patients are an integral part of your word-of-mouth strategy. Consider developing and sending out a newsletter (via email) to your patients that includes human-interest stories related to your practice.

For example, create a feature that focuses on one patient’s relief from pain after treatment.

You can include and promote new technologies or procedures at your practice; however, always look for the human element to the story. That’s the type of content that will grow your readership and increase the likelihood of your existing patients recommending you to others.

Create a realistic strategy for growing your practice

responding-online-reviewsWe often see orthopedic surgeons take one of two approaches to their marketing:

  1. They either believe they don’t have the resources or money to actively market their business, or
  2. They try to take on too much and put their practice in jeopardy due to burnout and poor strategy

Your goal is to find that happy medium, which is what these 5 Cardinal Rules are designed to help you with.

Sure, there are endless channels for you to pursue as you grow your practice, but by honing in on our 5 Cardinal Rules for growing your orthopedic practice, you can start seeing an immediate return on your investment, without stretching yourself too thin.