December 5, 2023

How healthcare marketers can attract new patients

It’s fair to say that we’ve never had so many choices for healthcare, so much access to information about our options, and so much awareness of issues and solutions around our mental and physical health. It’s all just a Google search away. 

So how can healthcare marketers cut through the noise and reach those consumers in need of our services? How can we grow the base of patients who come to our organizations for care? 

Lots of Factors Influence Patients’ Choice of Provider

Research has shown that understanding patients’ needs, desires, and goals is more important than ever in healthcare marketing. And consumers have lots to consider when they’re choosing a provider — everything from location and hours, to insurance coverage, to expectations from previous visits. 

Another study set out to understand the information that’s important to consumers when they’re looking for a healthcare provider. Participants ranked 11 different factors, including a provider’s qualifications, logistical considerations like cost and insurance, and sources of information. The study suggested that as healthcare gets more consumer-centric, patients are empowered to do their research and make their own choices. And it suggested that “tailored information can be helpful to consumers when they are searching for a provider.”

 For marketers, building your patient roster means developing an integrated plan that pairs the right message with the right channel and the right audience. It also means understanding that many of the decision-making factors people weigh — location or insurance, say — are out of your direct control. But you still need to communicate about those factors.  

Consumer Preferences You Can’t Control 

Your marketing team doesn’t get to decide where your practice opens a new office or how it prices services. But location and price are major considerations when someone’s shopping for care, so you have to communicate these things clearly. Let’s explore some of them:

Insurance may be the top factor that determines whether or not a new patient comes to your office. So make that information easy to find on your website. You can list your insurance affiliations (“We welcome XYZ Insurance members”), or if that’s not possible, then be sure to offer a clear option for customer service so people can call/text/email to inquire about insurance coverage. You might also include the insurance plans you accept in the copy block that shows up in Google search results.  

According to the research noted above, a physician or practitioner’s qualifications also rank highly among consumers’ consideration. Again, not something you can control, but certainly something you can communicate. Make sure your website includes a staff directory with bios that note certifications, accreditations, and affiliations.  

Quality of care is another strong indicator for new patients. That might include external validation like awards, quality metrics, and ratings; be sure to trumpet those accomplishments and to put them in context and language that’s meaningful to the audience you’re trying to reach. You can also use social media to share spotlights of patients who’ve received great care from your organization. Your existing patients are your best advocates, so share testimonials and reviews. When someone comes in for an appointment, send a follow-up email that makes it easy to share positive feedback.  

Decision Factors Marketers Can Control

Building a positive reputation for the brand is the marketer’s key job description. And reputation is an important point of influence when new patients consider your organization. When consumers encounter the brand in multiple places and at multiple points over time, you’re creating a high degree of confidence and trust so that when someone needs care they feel comfortable coming to you. Maintaining a positive reputation also involves reading and responding to social media and reviews — in our view, healthcare marketers don’t often take enough time to monitor comments about the brand and address issues as they come up.  

Obviously, you can’t attract new patients if they don’t know about you. An integrated approach that creates familiarity with the brand is another primary tool in your kit. Repeated messages across multiple channels that consistently carry the brand’s voice and look help create those “Aha” moments where consumers readily identify your organization. Every bit of communication should be shaped from the patient’s point of view — it’s not about what you want to tell them, but what they need to hear from you. 

Your providers can be part of this awareness effort, too: When they engage with the community (through blog posts or media appearances) or with other practitioners, they’re forging connections with prospective patients and others who can make referrals. By introducing your new doctors and services through integrated campaigns, you can also grow internal referrals and get existing patients to access more services. 

Depending on how specialized your organization is, you may be casting a wide net for new patients or focusing on a specific demographic. Either way, your website is typically the first experience a new patient will have with your brand. Consider it the hub of a universe of integrated communication — make it easy for people to get information and to take the next step of scheduling an appointment. It’s all about reducing the friction in whatever way you can, making things easy for people to understand from a design and content standpoint.

If you and your team are charged with growing your patient base, let’s talk. We’ve helped large networks and small nonprofits deliver care to more people.

Tenth Crow Creative is a brand marketing agency that creates, aligns, and promotes messaging for health and wellness organizations. Through insightful branding, engaging design and compelling marketing campaigns, we help these essential organizations find their identities and effectively communicate with their stakeholders so they can fulfill their missions.