COVID-19 has accelerated a number of changes for healthcare professionals, and chief among them is Telehealth, there’s no question about it. McKinsey reports the pandemic has skyrocketed Telehealth uptake from 11% in 2019 to 46%, and providers have risen to the challenge with many seeing 50 to 175 times the number of patients via Telehealth than they did before. It’s estimated that in the US alone, $250 billion of the current healthcare spend could be virtualised.
So then, the decision comes in for practice owners: are you going to stick to what you know, or embrace the challenges that come with these changes, because Telehealth isn’t just a passing fad?
You may be one of many health care practices across the country that launched a Telehealth offering during the pandemic and now, as restrictions begin to loosen, you finally have a moment to catch your breath and think about how virtual healthcare is going to work for your practice going forward.
Many of the practices that we’ve spoken to over the last couple of months have found the transition to online surprisingly easy with some unexpected benefits, although the move has not been without its challenges. COVID-19 has been a reality for over eight months now, and it seems that there is no going back.
If you’re serious about your Telehealth offering and want to build up the number of clients that access your services online, then here’s how to market your Telehealth services.
1. Update your website
This is the first and most important port of call. Your website is the starting point for most existing and potential clients who want to find out about your Telehealth services.
Include a service page
This may mean adding a service page to include your Telehealth offering or including a note on the service pages that are available virtually. Spend a bit of time going through your website to check that your website text consistently communicates that you see clients both in-person and online. This can take a while if you have multiple locations and separate provider pages.
Include a link on each page
It’s important to go through the whole site as you can’t be sure exactly how clients will find your site or where they’ll navigate to. Make sure your message is crystal clear – you could include a link on each page with the text “telemedicine services available” that takes the user through to a page describing your Telehealth services.
Update your homepage
Don’t forget to update your homepage with a message that describes your virtual health services.
Update your website meta
Similar to local listings, your website metadata needs to reflect your updated offering as it will appear in the search engine results whenever potential clients are searching for your services.
2. Answer client questions with a comprehensive FAQ page
The more detail you offer, the more comfortable your clients will feel with the idea of accessing your services online. Address common concerns and questions, such as:
- Are Telehealth services only available for existing clients?
- What services do you offer virtually?
- What are the costs and do you accept insurance?
- How does the Telehealth appointment process work?
- What happens if you have a technical issue?
- What hours are you available?
3. Equip your staff and educate your referrers
Make sure everyone knows about your Telehealth services and is completely on-board:
Educate all front-office staff and practitioners
Your staff are the face of your business, so make sure they know everything there is to know about your new offering. Having their buy-in will make the process smoother and more successful, and will also give your clients the confidence they need to try an online appointment.
Touch base with your referrers
It may feel like it’s only been a few weeks since you last communicated with your referrers, but time has flown, and it could easily be a lot longer. Consider sending out a mailer letting them know about your expanded treatment offering and, for referrers who have sent through many clients in the past, maybe arrange to pop in to re-establish the relationship.
4. Leverage your client database
If you use practice management software like Power Diary, you’ll have the email addresses of all your past and present clients. You can either download and import the list into your email software, link to Mailchimp using the API integration, or email your clients directly from inside Power Diary. Maybe you’ve been building an email list through your website, now is the time to use it! Send a notification to your clients detailing your new online services, and link through to the Telehealth service page on your website.
5. Use your social media channels
You already have these set-up, now it’s time to get them to work for you.
Schedule and boost posts
Schedule regular posts on your social media accounts to spread information about your Telehealth services. Consider boosting the posts (or running an ad campaign) because posts on a Facebook business page only reach about 6.4% of all your followers. An ad campaign is an easy, inexpensive way to get your new services in front of people who have shown that they are interested in your services (by following your page) as well as other people in your community who don’t know about your practice.
Share ratings and reviews*
If you are already seeing some of your clients virtually, find out whether they are happy with the online option. If they are, ask them to write a review. Almost 80% of patients look for ratings and reviews when making healthcare-related decisions. This will help build confidence in your practice and allows potential clients to evaluate and choose the type of care they wish to receive. (You can also use these reviews to inform and improve your offering).
6. Update your listings
In addition to updating your profiles across your various social media accounts, you also need to check your local listings. It’s basic best practice to update your business description in Bing, Yahoo! Maps and Google My Business at a minimum. This has become even more important as consumer behaviour continues to change. Following COVID-19, for example, over 50% of searches now result in no clicks through to the search results, and that means you need to communicate the most important need-to-know information in the search results page.
Google My Business has recently including the option to add two links to local listings:
- A link to COVID-19 information;
- A link to your Telehealth information page.
To access these features and take advantage of the opportunity, simply sign in to your GMB account, choose a specific listing, and update the info sections.
Communication technology has finally become mainstream in the healthcare industry, and it’s an exciting opportunity for practice owners to diversify and attract new clients.
Future projections show that Telehealth is only going to grow in popularity so you can’t afford to bury your head in the sand. Investments that you make into establishing and promoting your Telehealth services now will boost your bottom line, allow you to deliver high-quality care to more clients and give you a first-mover advantage that will establish you as a leader in your field.
Maybe you know a practice owner that could really use some marketing inspiration for their Telehealth services right about now? If someone specific sprang to mind with that last question, please forward them this article!
*Important note from our Legal Eagles: We know you know this, but we need to say it anyway. The information in this article is general in nature and is not legal advice. The laws, regulations and professional guidelines relating to the use of reviews and testimonials can vary across jurisdictions, and health professions. If you’re unsure of the rules that apply to you, your professional association is often a good place to start.