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Want More Patients? Be Different. Be an Online Teacher.


Stand out from the Crowd | Marketing Firm | Vanguard Communications

How we grow medical practices 15%-30% in one year – guaranteed

The answer, in a word, is the internet. Kinda obvious, isn’t it? Nearly 90% of Americans have broadband internet access, and more than 8 million Americans are online every day looking for healthcare information (Pew Research Center). Everybody’s (almost) on the internet, and the majority are healthcare searchers.

With 1.14 billion (with a “B”) websites on the worldwide web (Siteefy), what’s not obvious is how you stand out on the internet. Pssst. Here’s a secret, but not really:

By a factor of 10:1, patients are looking not for doctors first but for answers to questions about health conditions (Google).

We provide the answers with customized, patient-centric information on each client’s website. The doctor thus becomes not only the healer but the teacher.

The result: clients’ websites climb to page one of search-engine results for dozens of patient search terms initially and ultimately hundreds. And their clinics fill with patients. Every time. Guaranteed. Without failure for more than two decades.

A writing company dressed in an internet suit

Our client physicians write almost none of the information on their websites. They just review it after we’ve written it for them.

Vanguard is staffed by highly specialized, experienced medical writers. We translate medical jargon into patient-friendly information that instantly creates trust and a bond – and page-one search-engine rankings. We do the work. The doctors get the credit. And the patient growth.

Unfortunately, simply possessing top-notch clinical skills isn’t typically enough to grow a practice. A famous aphorism, attributed to a book published in 1928 by author John A. Shedd, goes, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are for.” Never has there been a better metaphor for the practice of medicine.

Healthcare providers are trained….no, indoctrinated not to take chances in practicing their profession. There’s a good reason. History is full of snake-oil remedies that not only didn’t cure anything but made people sicker.

As a consequence, modern medicine is layered with controls, protocols, regulations and oversight. Before the medical establishment – notably the FDA and various professional societies – blesses any new medicine or treatment, it must first go through the usual randomized, placebo-controlled gamut of studies, trials and peer review.

The net effect is a take-no-chances mindset among healthcare providers. Stay in the pack. Don’t get ahead of the crowd. Rightfully so. As a patient, it’s my health and my life at stake. Three cheers for evidence-based medicine.

Clash of realities

Then there’s the business of medicine. Uh-oh. The B-word – its implications go against much of what doctors are formally taught.

After years of education and training that stress the importance of following the flock, doctors are often thrown headfirst into finding patients. Many become small-business owners in private practice.

According to a study by the American Medical Association, 53 percent of physicians are self employed, and 60 percent work in practices wholly owned by doctors.

The AMA found that two out of five doctors (39.8 percent) own their own practices, and an equal portion (41.1 percent) work in a single-specialty practice.
These days younger physicians are discovering that owning your own practice is hardly a sure-fire meal ticket. Particularly in large cities, physicians have to compete with each other for quantity and quality of patients, more so for those in surgery-based practices.

Increasingly, most specialists we meet are in search of more patients, better quality patients (for an improved payor mix), or both. The great majority want better educated, better insured patients who are generally healthier, follow instructions well and experience better outcomes.

How to get them? The answer is almost eerily simple. But it takes a leap of faith for which doctors are not formally trained.

Differentiate with patient education

Psst. Here’s the world’s worst-kept secret: Patients can’t tell much difference between doctors. Heck, doctors often can’t tell much difference, with a few notable exceptions (e.g., surgeons who repair other surgeons’ errors).

Faced with multiple buying choices, any healthcare consumer looks for differences. What makes one doctor different and memorable?

The answer lies in effective branding. A brand is a claim of distinction. A strong brand helps patients make the choice abundantly clear. The most enduring brands say in effect, “There’s us and then there’s everyone else trying to be as good as us.”

The strongest brands in healthcare are built on trust. Patients want doctors who are able, accessible, and affable. Healthcare providers don’t have time to talk to every prospective patient in person. But they can demonstrate their abilities, accessibility, and affability to thousands on the internet every month.

Vanguard clients typically see a doubling or more in website traffic in the first year and a tripling in year two. Ultimately, these providers get eight to ten times as many visitors to their websites as to their clinics.

Not all will become patients, of course. But no one needs everyone to become a patient, only a small fraction of the total for the best-fit candidates.

How memorable is your flag?

We like to think of a brand as a flag that stands for one principle above all. What flag should you plant on the hilltop? And how memorable and how different does it look from the others already there?

In our experience, less than one of five healthcare provider groups plant the flag of online patient education. And that’s a shame for the others, because years of data have revealed that that’s the flag that patients are most eager to salute.

Let us help with branding

In addition to providing online patient-education, Vanguard also offers its BrandMine branding services to help uncover multiple practice differentiators for marketing advantages.

Contact us BrandMine