The End of Physician Referrals: How to Increase Visibility and Reach New Patients

For years, healthcare organizations relied on physician referrals to increase patient volumes and experience growth. Now, more patients turn to social media, search engines, and hospital websites to determine which specialist is best for their needs. As this trend continues, healthcare providers need effective alternatives to expand their business. To help you improve your healthcare marketing strategy, AMNY Health Marketing highlights several alternatives to physician referrals.

Understanding the End of Physician Referrals

In today’s digital world, patients interact with healthcare providers like they do with retail companies. Many use website descriptions and patient reviews to compare hospitals and book appointments at doctor’s offices using mobile applications. This situation has created self-referral, in which patients rely on online tools to find information about medical services themselves.

Since patients tend to make decisions about their health before selecting a provider, physician referrals are no longer as effective at drawing patients in. Research suggests that the use of referrals has dropped 44% since 2018, and 61% of patients now rely on online resources to make their choice. These statistics indicate healthcare organizations should shift their attention away from referrals and focus on their websites to reach patients.

Why Healthcare Web Content Matters

Although more patients prefer to learn about healthcare providers digitally, many will struggle to find adequate information about hospitals and physician’s offices online. For instance, if a person visits a healthcare provider’s website looking for reviews and cannot locate them, they may choose the competitor with more user-friendly pages. Therefore, healthcare groups need to make their websites easy for patients to navigate.

Even given the obstacles of healthcare websites, people are transitioning to digital sources to research their options. If hospitals and doctor’s offices want to compete with other providers, they need web content that speaks to the needs of potential patients.

Alternative Strategies for Healthcare Marketing

To mitigate dependence on physician referrals, you need to start with your website. Many facilities see traffic from existing patients accessing their online accounts, but this traffic rarely generates growth.

The structure of your website – how easy your pages are to navigate, how mobile friendly they are and whether you are utilizing an organizational structure on site to find doctors by their specialty area, all create a positive experience for potential new patients, said Julie Perkins, Director of Digital Strategy at AMNY Health Marketing.  “These small changes help future patients can feel comfortable with your practice, your doctors and the information you will provide them before booking appointments.”

With a robust online presence, you can seize the attention and business of prospective patients. The following strategies are fundamental to engaging people with your website:

Improving User Experience

Your website is often the first impression people have of your service. If patients find your online pages are difficult to navigate, they may turn to another provider out of frustration. Online scheduling forms, a well-defined contact page, and coherent language are key features of an accessible website for patients.

Building a Social Media Presence

Social media accounts enable you to form a community where patients can learn more about your services and culture. You can also use social media to disseminate web content by posting upcoming events, breakthroughs, success stories, or medical expertise. In your profile’s bio, list your phone number, address, website, and other links to ensure people have easy access to clinics and providers.

Using SEO Tactics for Better SERP Rankings

The main goals of content marketing are to provide pertinent information to patients and raise your search engine results page (SERP) rankings. You can accomplish both objectives by focusing on the most sought-after services you offer. Once you establish these services, you can implement keywords into your content for search engine optimization (SEO). This strategy ensures your content appears closer to the top of results pages for potential patients to view.

Seek Healthcare Marketing Assistance Today

As patients move past physician referrals, healthcare providers must concentrate on their website to attract new clientele. However, it can be challenging to know where to begin for many healthcare marketers, especially as they balance numerous other responsibilities. For assistance with your marketing campaigns, turn to AMNY Health Marketing. We can help you identify and connect with new patients while building trust online to boost referrals from other providers. Contact us today to learn how we help healthcare facilities across Upstate New York and beyond with their marketing efforts.