Your Web Presence – Fueling or Failing Your Wellness Practice?
Here’s a bold but probably very true statement … your internet presence is most likely failing your health services practice. That means failing to meet the needs of your practice as well as failing the patients who need your services. By “Internet presence” we mean your website, your social media activity, online advertising, video publishing and any other digital means you use to create awareness about your practice and your specialties as a practitioner.
We can make that statement with confidence because we’ve been actively engaged with healthcare industry marketing since the earliest days of the internet. We are highly tuned to analyze, diagnose, recommend and implement remedies for Healthcare, Wellness and Senior Living industry websites, social media channels and digital advertising campaigns.
Almost every medical practice has a website these days; frankly very few of them are good. Don’t feel too bad if yours isn’t great because you’re not alone in your profession.
In our experience, most healthcare web properties fall far short of accomplishing the needs of medical practices and wellness centers, as well as for the patients they serve. In order to fully do justice to your important life’s work, your presence on the web must not only fulfill the technical requirements of the internet, it must also communicate the spirit of your vital role in the much-needed revolution in healthcare.
Two Topics – Powerful Leverage for Your Practice
This is a two-part article covering essential sister topics that are critical to the success of your medical practice, as well as to your individual success as an administrator or practitioner in the field of Functional and Integrative Medicine.
(1) The first article is about your need for a brand and a platform, “Building a Great Wellness Brand”.
(2) This article, “Building Great Web Presence” is about how your presence on the internet can either make or break your ability to stand out as a unique practitioner of wellness services.
You’ve invested heavily in the education and career specialties of your practice. These two crucial tips will maximize your return on those investments.
The Patient/Practitioner Relationship has Changed Radically
For most people of adult age today, the doctor/patient relationship in western countries has followed a pretty simple process for most of our lives … get sick or injured … find a general medicine physician or one who specializes in your therapeutic issue AND who accepts your insurance plan … get a diagnosis and prescription from him or her … take the pharmaceutical medication or therapeutic recommendation … rinse and repeat for each illness or malady.
Two phenomena have changed that landscape entirely:
1) The rise of the internet as a health information resource
2) The rise of Functional and Integrative Medicine driving the healthcare revolution
The Internet’s Power Over Your Practice
The rise of the internet as a health and wellness information resource has made skills in digital marketing more important than ever for medical practices, especially for practices and practitioners committed to Functional and Integrative Medicine.
According to research from McKinsey & Company, over 80% of consumers view digital solutions as the best way to meet their healthcare needs. Over 80% of healthcare consumers make their physician choices online prior to reaching out to a practice. If your online presence isn’t stellar, you don’t even know which patients you’re missing.
Patient use of the internet includes finding doctors, checking health information, and monitoring health metrics. Other studies confirm that up to 85% of patient decisions to choose a care provider happen before they ever contact a practice. That means that your story told through the internet must be clear and compelling or you risk never seeing the face of patients who need your expertise.
Beyond acquiring patients, the McKinsey research and other similar studies show that keeping patients is also heavily dependent on you having a website that confirms the treatments you prescribe and supports patient decisions to come back for more.
Seven Typical Points of Website Failure and Risk
Given the rapidly changing trends in the internet and its role in the consumerization of healthcare and Wellness, there are seven primary points of failure and risk that we typically find when analyzing Healthcare and Wellness industry websites:
1) Branding and Story-Telling
Beyond your medical competencies and credentials, patients and their advocates want and need to know your story. It’s no longer enough to have an MD, DO, PhD, PA or NP behind your name. Patients and their caregivers want to know the “why” behind your “what”.
Our sister article, “Building a Great Wellness Brand” describes exactly why that is critical to today’s health and wellness consumers. It also provides guidelines on what to do about it to the benefit of your practice.
2) Differentiation and Uniqueness
The fields of health management and wellness are getting more and more crowded with practitioners offering tradition, allopathic services, as well as a wide range innovative solutions to addressing and preventing chronic illness.
If your internet presence doesn’t clearly differentiate your practice and specialties, then the patients you want to attract won’t be able to find you through the fog and noise of a very loud marketplace.
As we profiled in “Building a Great Wellness Brand” that challenge is even greater for practices and practitioners in the fields of Functional and Integrative Medicine.
3) Ensuring Security
If you look at the bar where your website address appears in internet browsers, you’ll see several symbols that signify the security of your website and the data it manages. Those symbols not only indicate to your site visitors that it’s safe to browse your website. They also mean something very significant to your presence on the internet.
Beginning in 2014, Google and other search engines began excluding websites in search results if those websites don’t contain proper security. Google’s policies have progressively become more restrictive over the last five years.
Way more than half of the health and wellness websites we review don’t have sufficient or even basic security in place. Those websites are not only sending messages to their website visitors that the site is not secure, they’re ensuring that the website is invisible on the internet when prospect patients search for your services.
4) Compliance with Web Policies and HIPAA
On May 25 of 2018, the “General Data Protection Regulation” (GDPR) went into law in Europe and literally changed the world of website privacy and security. Since then, twelve states in the U.S. have adopted GDPR-style policies with similar penalties for non-compliance. Those states include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Vermont. Many of us who follow these policy directions believe that the United States is not far behind Europe with a nationwide, GDPR-type set of similar regulations.
The fines and penalties are serious business. If any of your clients are in European territories, there are two tiers of administrative fines that can be levied as penalties for GDPR noncompliance: Up to $22 million (€20M) or 4% of annual global revenue – whichever is greater. The emerging U.S. regulations have similar penalties and many states are hungry for new sources of revenue. That’s good news for people who care about information security and privacy, very bad news if you have a website that is not in compliance.
It’s important to know that website policies are not just words to make your website visitors feel comfortable. Most people don’t realize that those policies are actually legal agreements that govern how your website is used. Those agreements include real teeth for both website owners as well as for users.
Similarly, HIPAA does not just apply to how you manage patient data inside your practice. The HIPAA Title II amendments also include how you manage user privacy and security on your website. As in your practice, heavy civil and criminal penalties are at stake if your website doesn’t adequately comply with HIPAA regulations.
5) Maximizing Search Optimization
If you or the people who are maintaining your website don’t understand and aggressively manage the complex nuances of “search engine optimization” (SEO), then your website is essentially invisible on the internet. SEO determines everything in terms of if and how your website shows up when people search for your category of health and wellness services.
SEO is the air-traffic controller of the internet. If your website doesn’t master the technical nuances of SEO correctly, your plane doesn’t even show up on radar.
6) Leveraging Social Media Channels
Social media venues like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram do everything from connecting people to educating on every subject under the sun to providing everyone with an online bullhorn to toppling governments. If you have a business of any kind, you can’t afford not to have a social media presence.
But just having social media accounts is not enough. As with your website, those accounts have to be aggressively fed with content that builds your brand, tells your story, creates awareness for your offerings and generates interactive interest in your specialties. Everything you do in social media also supports your SEO rankings, but only IF you’re using well-choreographed social media techniques that coordinate with your website and other aspects of your digital marketing strategy.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of social media activity that we see from health and wellness practices is random, uncoordinated posting that does very little to benefit the practices they’re attempting to grow.
7) Smart Use of Video
In the online world of instant information and short attention spans, video has become the prominent and preferred way to communicate everything quickly. Studies show that website visitors are ten times (10X) more likely to watch a video than read any other internet content, including web pages, blog articles and even social media posts.
Google has begun to hint that they will tune their search algorithms to prioritize websites that have video content as opposed to just words, graphics and photos. There are indications that they may have already begun that prioritization.
As a practitioner or practice seeking to set yourself apart in the expanding field of Functional and Integrative Medicine, video must play a role in your digital marketing strategy and web presence.
Most Website Developers Lack Essential Skills and Experience
Considering the seven failure points listed above, to put it bluntly, the majority of Healthcare and Wellness industry websites range from poor to awful. Too often they drift into negligent and even risky. Many are nothing more than online brochures that lack essential security and don’t even come close to complying with internet policies. That includes some of the largest and most richly-funded healthcare organizations and medical practices. Many attempts at utilizing social media are even worse; wasting the time and money of practice personnel and, worse; failing to attract the patients you desire for your practice.
That is because, although they may be talented and well-meaning, most website developers and marketing practitioners lack essential skills and knowledge to create and manage the kind of web properties you need. Many aren’t even aware of the full range of requirements that are essential to health industry web properties, much less understanding how to implement them properly.
Success for websites and digital marketing strategies in the dynamic field of Wellness require four essential skill sets working in coordinated combination:
1) Marketing Savvy – understanding and experience in the art and science of marketing;
2) Internet Savvy – deep knowledge of the processes and nuances of marketing on the internet, including security and policy compliance;
3) Design Expertise – training and skills in the art of graphic design; and,
4) Industry Knowledge – marketing without knowledge of the language of an industry is like trying to speak a foreign language to someone who doesn’t know that language
In our experience, most marketing agencies or website developers have one or two of those skill sets but few have even three of them, much less all four.
Higher Standards Needed for Functional and Integrative Medicine Websites
Websites in the fields of healthcare and wellness must be held to higher standards than most other industries. If your website and social media activity does not meet the standards outlined in this article, then your web presence is likely failing instead of fueling your practice. It’s not bringing you the kinds of patients you want or serving those patients with the critical care they need.
Our strong recommendation is that you get an objective second opinion about the quality and functionality of your website and overall web presence from someone like us who lives and works within these standard every day.
Leverage Experts for Marketing So You Can Focus on Your Patients
As a medical and wellness professional you are an expert in your branches of science and medicine, including your methodologies for navigating wellness protocols for your patients. You’re generally not an internet marketing expert, nor should you be. Your time, brain power and energy are best spent saving and improving lives, not trying to craft website designs, navigate the complexities of search engine optimization or weave social media campaigns into your overall marketing platform.
Our best advice to you is to leave the art and science of website development and internet marketing to experts in that field so you can maximize your time and effort working to keep the rest of us well and thriving. The principals of MindBody Talent have been successfully developing digital marketing strategies and campaigns for the healthcare industry since the dawn of the internet. We’re skilled and passionate about transforming the state of health and wellness for our generation and the next. Engaging us or someone else in our field of expertise will enable you to build and grow the practice of your dreams. Just make sure you choose experts who fully understand the essentials of digital marketing and the nuances of Functional and Integrative Medicine.
Select the right marketing experts that can help you construct a winning internet presence. Then watch your professional digital marketing engine fuel your world-changing practice and its role in the healthcare revolution.