Having an online presence is a vital component of marketing any type of medical practice. In fact, a 2015 survey of 3,000 people ages 18 to 24 found that 54 percent of this population searched online before choosing a physician. Thus, if your dermatology practice isn’t taking advantage of online marketing, you could be missing out on acquiring a huge percentage of the millennial population and their families.
Fortunately, boosting your medical practice’s online presence doesn’t have to be a complicated and difficult process. Continue reading to learn some of the best ways to build an online reputation and boost your business.
Optimize Your Practice’s Website
Considering the increasing amount of time that consumers are spending online, having a website for your practice can be extremely helpful in such a competitive environment. Even better still, creating and maintaining your practice’s website can be done fairly inexpensively these days, although this is certainly an investment worth making. There are companies that specialize in medical website development that have a proven track record of success.
Step 1 is to start collecting before and after photos. Most web developers recommend that you show images of your own patients rather than images provided by the companies.
If you’re starting from the ground up, or need to make significant updates, be sure to include these cost estimates in your practice’s budget. New websites can cost $3,000 to $15,000 depending on the bells and whistles and customization that you want. You can do your own website for free using Wix.com but it is better to get advice from a developer that understands all of the intricate details of constantly changing search engine optimization (SEO). Many companies offer a monthly maintenance fee to keep the website content up to date, which also improves your SEO.
Create a Profile on Review Sites
With so many potential patients relying on internet searches and online reviews to choose a new doctor, you don’t want to overlook your practice’s status on these websites. According to an article published in Practical Dermatology, however, you also need to be wary of anonymous reviewers and even mix-ups with other physicians that may have similar names. By doing a quick Google search of your name and practice, you can get a better feel for what your online reputation might look like.
If you find that managing your comments and reviews on these types of websites is too much to handle on your own, you may want to consider hiring an online reputation management expert to ensure that what people read about you online is entirely accurate.
Engage Your Followers
The online world is in a constant state of flux, so managing your online reputation requires some regular effort on your part (or the part of your online manager). When patients comment, review, or ask questions on your social media pages and other websites, make a point to engage with them and provide answers or short comments.
This isn’t to say that every single comment needs to have a full-fledged answer, but you should try to address a few on a regular basis. Of course, any negative comments or reviews that may arise should be handled immediately, either by responding directly to the comment or by contacting the review site to explain your side of the story if needed. Remember to follow the HIPAA privacy guidelines which means you cannot disclose any patient medical information with your response. Do not sound defensive in your responses. This process can be tricky so seek advice from an expert in the area. Unfortunately, having an online presence can be a double edged sword. In fact, there is a petition going around to eliminate online reviews of doctors.
Partner with Franchises
Teaming up with a franchise that already has an established online presence is one of the most effective ways to give your dermatology practice an online boost. Franchises available today offer systems such as online retail stores, integrated patient engagement software, and other innovative tools that can be invaluable resources for your practice.
One franchise that is proven to optimize patient results and maximize skincare sales is Skin Type Solutions Franchise Systems (STS). I developed this software based, brand agnostic skincare retail system for medical practices in 2014. It was developed to make it easy for dermatologists and plastic surgeons to prescribe skin care regimen and educate patients to optimize outcomes. Now that over 130 doctors are using it, it has morphed into a staff and physician education company as well as a skincare retail methodology.
Skin Type Solutions helps doctors provide educational information to their patients with no effort on risk on their part. Patients can follow @Skin Type Solutions on instagram or @SkinTypeSol on Twitter for daily skin science updates and skincare tips and new product information. Patients can ask questions about their skin care regimens on facebook and be answered by an STS affiliated dermatologist or trained aesthetician. Skin Type Solutions is an education company that helps educate current and potential patients about healthy skin. By clicking a link, patients can find a STS participating physician near them.
Set Up an Online Store
Many dermatology practices may still be on the fence as to whether or not they should open an online retail store. The truth is that patients today want to be able to buy skincare products online from their doctor. There are several options to have an online store without any effort on your part. Skin Type Solutions Franchise Systems offers an online store option that can be cobranded with your practice name. Patients must enter your doctor’s code to get access to physician dispensed brands that you have chosen and that are correct for the patient’s Baumann Skin Type®. These are sent to the patient with engaging educational material.
Another option is to sell one brand only and utilize the brand’s online store and fulfillment services. Many brands such as SkinBetter™ offer an online store option for physicians. If you are not interested in the patient education and staff education components but want an online store option, look at DermPro and RegimenMD. The difference between those is that with DermPro you carry the inventory in your practice and you mail out (fulfill) the orders yourself. They also offer marketing ideas and material for cosmetic procedures. RegimenMD runs the website, carries the inventory and has the brands send the products for you. Note that with Skin Type Solutions and DermPro the patient receives several brands in one package while with RegimenMD each brand is shipped separately from the manufacturer. Skin Type Solutions Franchise System and Dermpro are the best for practices that want to allow the patient to go home with a product in hand. Skin Type Solutions Franchise System and RegimenMD are best if you want the online store option only with no fulfillment or inventory obligations. Choosing what method works for you realy depends on your individual needs. Of course you can set up your own Shopify store and sell the products that way.
Stay tuned for more practice building ideas. Follow me (Leslie Baumann) on Linked In where I post articles on skin care retail and practice tips.
Developed by world-renowned dermatologist, Leslie Baumann, MD, the Skin Type Solutions® Franchise System is an educational, science-based skincare store that implements a simple and reliable system to maximize skincare product sales and improve patient compliance and results.
Based on Dr. Baumann’s patent-pending Baumann Skin Typing System, this first-of-its-kind retail model provides dermatologists with the scientific methodology, training, and education necessary to prescribe effective, customized skincare regimens utilizing multiple brands of products that have been independently tested and approved by Dr. Baumann. To learn more about what Skin Type Solutions can do for your dermatology practice, visit the STS site here.