Increasingly, the competitive advantage in the business of healthcare earned through the quality of your online presence, which can be difficult to manage as Google often changes the rules.
In December of 2021, Google implemented changes to its platform that affects the healthcare industry, including a listing of insurances accepted and languages offered. This is important because patients are likely to Google your practice well before their first visit (more on that below) and what they find has shown to significantly impact their decision to show up.
Here’s how to use your Google Business Profile listing and take advantage of new tools to put your practice ahead of the competition.
In Press Ganey’s Consumer Experience Trends in Healthcare 2021, they describe the modern patient journey to your practice. How do patients select your practice? First, they base their decision on what they find online.
In the report, Press Ganey lists the following findings:
Healthcare consumers trust online sources twice as much as a human referral to your practice. Even if your practice is referred by another patient, 84% of consumers would not make the appointment if they see less than a 4-star rating
The top factor in choosing a practice based on digital research is a 5-star rating, meaning that online ratings and reviews outweigh all other factors when choosing a practice
On average, patients review between 2.7 and 5.5 online reviews when doing their online research
This data illustrates how critical the digital consumer experience is to your practice. Delivering a 5-star experience is now the imperative due to the influential nature of Google reviews.
Another key to search results that benefit your practice is making sure that the potential customer Googling you not only sees positive reviews, but also sees the specific information that you want them to see. What is it about your practice that will make them click?
Search engines are the most utilized digital tool when researching a practice. Your job, then, should be to make your practice—and the key benefits your practice offers—easier to find in a Google search.
Fortunately, Google just changed their algorithms to increase the information available from a consumer query of your practice. Here’s what the search engine has done to make healthcare options more visible and accessible to consumers:
First, you can now list the types of insurance you accept on your Google Business Profile. This is something the data shows consumers find increasingly important as out-of-network costs continue to rise. More than 60% of baby boomers will look online at your practice, so if you accept Medicare, being able to list that information is also a win.
In addition to finding an in-network provider, consumers want to be able to communicate in their native language. Google added the option for healthcare providers to list which languages they support, including American Sign Language.
What does all of this mean to the average medical practice? In short, if you haven’t updated your Google Business Profile, now is the time.
Having a robust and up-to-date online presence with positive consumer reviews affects both new patient acquisition and existing patient retention. If you’re in control of how your practice appears on Google, a patient can do a search, see your practice reviews, make sure their insurance covers their visit and even see if the doctor speaks their native language.
Keeping this data up-to-date by practice and provider can be labor intensive. We know, however, that these marketing tasks will attract more patients to your practice. It’s a low-cost but effective way to create competitive advantage.
We can also assume that Google will reward the practices that keep their business listings up-to-date. This means that your chances of appearing at the top of a Google search are higher. When you consider that this could mean the difference between a patient selecting your 5-star practice over your competitor, the time you spend updating your Google Business Profile is definitely worth it.