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Ajay Prasad is the CEO of GMR Web Team, a full-service healthcare digital marketing agency focused on patient acquisition and retention.
Automation in healthcare marketing comprises technology-powered communication strategies that enable providers to have personalized engagement with patients based on predetermined behaviors. When you automate your marketing campaigns based on target audiences and patient types, you can expand your reach and grow your practice faster.
In my experience, healthcare providers who use marketing automation often get better results than those who do not. My company, RepuGen, created an automated platform for healthcare reputation management and patient engagement, and I have seen healthcare practices retain more than 80% of unhappy patients and earn about 10 new patients a week from referrals. So it’s not surprising to me that Forrester has predicted that global spending on marketing automation tools will exceed $25 billion by 2023.
Here are some strategies for using marketing automation to improve patient engagement and build lasting relationships.
1. Automate Patient Referrals
Easily promote your healthcare services by automatically asking happy patients to recommend them to their friends and relatives. You can use various referral management software platforms to first send an automated survey to your patients after seeing them. This will help you gather insights and reviews to know exactly how your patients feel when they leave your practice and what they think about you. Then, you can follow up each positive response with a referral solicitation email. Be sure to include an option that lets happy patients automatically send the referral to their friends and family members by email.
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2. Automate Physician Referrals
You also can use referral management software platforms to establish connections with other healthcare practices and make it easier for doctors to refer patients to you. What’s more, referring and receiving practices can communicate regarding a patient’s appointment details and can securely exchange electronic health records between them. Be sure to strategically communicate why providers should refer patients to your practice.
3. Automate Online Listings Management
Using tools such as Yext Listings or Moz Local, you can view and manage all of your online listings, including your location data, services and office hours, across the web in one place. If there are any NAP (name, address, phone number) inconsistencies, you can easily spot and fix them. The technology makes the work of updating, claiming or creating new online listings more manageable for your practice so that you don’t lose out on potential patients whenever they are searching online.
NAP consistency and accuracy can improve your search engine results page rankings. Higher rankings can increase your practice’s online visibility to bring in more patients.
4. Automate Email And Text Messaging
Broadcast message scheduling is another vital component of marketing automation in healthcare. With your marketing software’s text message and email features, you can send important messages to individual or multiple patients at once. The capability includes broadcasting promotional messages or even service-related announcements, such as vaccine availability or office closures. It’s also useful in personalized patient engagements, such as automated appointment reminders.
Software with two-way text messaging features let patients respond when you reach out. For example, a patient may respond to a text message in real time, allowing you to formulate and manually send an appropriate response quickly.
5. Automate Your Verified Testimonials Page
Having a dedicated verified testimonials page can help build trust and grow your practice. Many prospective patients expect to see that page before they decide to visit your practice. But pulling reviews from multiple platforms like Google, Facebook, Healthgrades and Yelp and publishing them on your website can be daunting and time-consuming.
A specially designed testimonials page can address this problem by automatically extracting your recent positive reviews from all leading review sites. This can be as easy as adding a dynamic testimonials widget that automatically updates your positive reviews, enabling prospective patients to quickly see that you’re a reputable practice.
6. Automate Birthday And Holiday E-Cards
Sending automated birthday and holiday e-cards is another way to personalize patient engagement through email or text messaging. There are many websites and apps that can provide you with customizable e-card templates, and you can use email marketing tools like AWeber or Mailchimp to send them to your patients without having to draft individual emails or texts.
7. Automate Online Reputation Management And Review Generation
Getting regular reviews from your patients helps you stay relevant. There are various reputation management platforms that allow you to automatically capture patient feedback from popular review sites, including Yelp, Healthgrades and Google.
Some reputation management platforms also integrate with leading review sites and let you engage unhappy patients and resolve their issues to protect your healthcare organization’s reputation.
8. Use AI-Driven Sentiment Analysis
Put patient feedback through artificial intelligence-based sentiment analysis to discover how your patients feel about different aspects of your practice. Tools like Google Cloud Natural Language API, Brandwatch and Lexalytics can save you a lot of time that goes into analyzing patient feedback and determining the sentiment and intent of the messages.
After generating patient sentiment reports through these tools, you can easily track your strengths and pinpoint areas that need improvement to enhance the overall patient experience.
9. Get Insights Into Patient Needs
By automatically engaging patients to get insights about their needs, you can boost satisfaction and retention rates. For example, you can use patient engagement software to generate and send health surveys after patients have visited your practice to learn more about their existing health needs and automatically send them lifestyle tips via text message or email. As part of your patient retention strategy, consider sending automated messages to remind them about things like annual wellness exams.
With these strategies for automating your healthcare marketing, you can increase patient engagement, build lasting patient relationships and quickly grow your practice’s market reach and annual revenue.
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Author: Ajay Prasad, Forbes Councils Member
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