More patients are going online to research doctors, and many of them don’t have a referral. Join Michael Roberts and Scott Zeitzer as they share the latest research on how patients use search engines, review sites, and social media prior to booking appointments. Then follow the discussion about how to capture this set of patients that your practice might otherwise miss.
Engage With Us
How to listen: shows.pippa.io/paradigm-shift-of-healthcare/howto
Archive of previous episodes: https://www.p3practicemarketing.com/paradigm-shift-of-healthcare/
Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/p3practicemktg
Announcer: It’s time to think differently about healthcare. But how do we keep up? The days of yesterday’s medicine are long gone, and we’re left trying to figure out where to go from here. With all the talk about politics and technology, it can be easy to forget that healthcare is still all about humans. And many of those humans have unbelievable stories to tell.
Here, we leave the policy debates to the other guys and focus instead on the people and ideas that are changing the way we address our health. It’s time to navigate the new landscape of healthcare together and hear some amazing stories along the way. Ready for a breath of fresh air? It’s time for your paradigm shift.
Michael: Welcome to the “Paradigm Shift of Healthcare,” and thank you for listening. I’m Michael Roberts here today with my co-host, Scott Zeitzer. Today, we’ve got some exciting news to share. We have moved the show from being a podcast to a regularly streaming show on HealthcareNOW radio.
So, you may just be tuning in for the first time, and if so, we want to give you just a quick background on what we’re doing here with the show, although it’s our first episode, our first show on HealthcareNOW radio, this is actually episode 85 of what we’ve been doing with this. We’ve been doing this for a couple of years now. It’s crazy to think about that, Scott, huh.
Scott: Eighty-five shows.
Michael: It’s wild to be here. And you know, we’ve been looking at the many different shifts within healthcare and because we’ve been doing 85 episodes, we started before COVID was a thing, and we were at the time talking more about how the consumerization of healthcare has been a major change.
And I think that through all of the many changes that happened with COVID, through all the many things that are going on, this factor of consumerization still is a major thing that we’re trying to figure out, and it keeps on shifting, because of just all of the many changes that have happened over the past couple of years.
So, we’ve been looking at this topic from a lot of different angles, but we’re really going to be focusing in on medical practices, because that’s really a core part of the business that we do. When we interact with our clients, it’s more around working with practices. And you know, when we talk about these kinds of things on a regular basis at p3practicemarketing.com on our blog, and then all of the different content that we make there, and so, definitely invite you to be a part of that conversation. Today, we’re focusing specifically on how patients search for doctors online.
Scott: Yeah. You know, Michael, when you and I were talking about doing the first show for the radio, this was the topic that kind of really came to both of us, because this is something we talk about constantly with all of our providers. A lot of practices have to realize that patients are looking more and more to Google and other online search engines to find the practice, to get more information about the doctor.
I still think the vast majority, and Michael tell me if you disagree, the vast majority of patients, they have a doctor in mind, somebody was referred to them, no doubt. Then this is the difference and this is important. They don’t just pick up the phone immediately.
They need reassurance that the referral is appropriate, because I do know, like when I talk to, you know, previous generations, or maybe even 10 years ago, you got the referral from the primary care provider, and they automatically just picked up the phone and, you know, that’s where they went. And it is not the case anymore. Consumerization is definitely here to stay of healthcare, and I think COVID has just accelerated that.
Michael: Yeah, we’re looking at some stats, actually from before COVID around, like how consumer behavior was changing, and all this stuff. And I can only imagine how much more rapidly that stuff’s accelerated since that time, you know, in terms of all of us learning new digital behaviors and then depending on those digital behaviors more.
As we’re, you know, talking about the fact that people are looking for their doctors online, there are, like, so many different ways that they can, you know, like there are search engines, but there’s also review sites, and there’s also social media, and there’s all these different tools by which we can go acquire information these days.
Scott: Yeah, you know, Michael, this is something that I want everyone to understand that, and if you think about it, for all the practices out there that are listening to us, my mother, she’s over 29, everybody, but she might be closer, you know, to her 70s, yeah…
Michael: Somewhere in between there.
Scott: She’s somewhere in between that, right. But she is talking to me about the quality of her Zoom calls. So, don’t think that “Oh, but that’s for everybody else, but in my demographic, comma, dot, dot dot, it’s like…” No. In your patient population, this is the thing that’s really changed and been definitely, and I think will be here, you know, post-COVID is the ability for everybody to go online and take a look at you. You know, whether that’s the website, whether that’s through a search engine, whether that’s, you know, through some sort of reputation marketing.
Michael, I know that you’ve done some…you know, you’ve got some stats out there about search engines between, what is it 2017 and 2019, it was increased by 60%. Is that right?
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. So we’re looking at a survey that was commissioned by Binary Fountain, and they have a resource available online where you can look at some of this kind of information. But this is one of the core ways that people are finding their doctor. They’re just hopping in Google and they’re doing that search.
There are other search engines out there that they could be using. Obviously, the percentage of usage drops off rapidly. But, you know, it’s something just to be aware of, like, before we get into the specific numbers around how patients are behaving. Google is going to have more competition at some point, like, as more and more concerns around privacy continue to arise.
There are other search engines out there that are emphasizing that component of online search a lot more, and Google’s supposedly trying to do better. And I don’t want to sound too cynical on that, but they are trying to do better. But that is definitely a negative of who Google is, and how their business operates, that they are definitely, you know, looking into that data as much as they can.
So, it’s going to be interesting to see how that develops over the next couple of years. But between 2017 and 2019, yeah, patients started using search engines more. They increased that percentage by 60% of the using search engines to find a doctor. A lot of those patients were using terms like “near me” or “near this town.”
So, like, if I’m looking for a doctor, you know, orthopedic surgeon near New Orleans, near Metairie, out where I am. But that sort of learned behavior, because in order to get a better result from the search engine, you need to type in things like “near me” or “near this town,” you can see how patients have adapted to that environment and you know, are using it to try and get better results there.
So, and what’s interesting about this is, so, let’s say I do that search, you know, orthopedic surgeon near Metairie, and when I look at the results, it’s not just like I’m seeing the surgeon’s website, right? Like, it’s not just like one result that says, go see Dr. Smith, and this is where you can find him. You’ve got a whole slew of results there. And sometimes it’s for different surgeons, but even for that same surgeon, you could have multiple results, multiple different types of results there.
So, there’s a lot to consider, and I don’t want to jump too far ahead on all those different components, but you’ve got things like review sites, and you’ve got map listings, and you’ve got ads up in there. And so, there’s definitely a mix of things that happened just right there on that one search results page.
Scott: Yeah, you know, Michael, this is that thing where, oh, but not in my demographic conversation starts to occur. It’s like, yes, it’s happening across the board. I go back to…boy, my mom better not listen to this episode, you know. No mom, not now. You know, but she is definitely doing this kind of stuff where she’s going, “You know, somebody told me to go see…but I read this review.”
And I’m, you know, I’m kind of leaning back because I don’t get into deep conversations about, you know, marketing for practices with my mom, and there she is doing it, and it is happening. And I go back to this whole thing of, they may know the doctor’s name, they may not know the doctor’s name. Often they do, but Michael, how many times have you had conversations, you know, where, “Hey, they went online and they saw us doing a good job,” or “They read some reviews and that kind of sealed the deal for them?”
Michael: Yeah, sure.
Scott: Right, the content marketing, you know, because I go through this conversation every time with practices. You know, three basic components everybody, a good website with good content, that’s part two, website, one, content two. Three, better do some reputation marketing, because not everybody just finds you just typing in, you know, orthopedic surgeon, New Orleans. You know, orthopedic surgeons near me, that kind of thing. They start looking for very specific things, when they know what’s wrong with them, which is a whole different conversation, right?
Michael: Yeah, you know, it’s interesting too, because we just very briefly mentioned advertisement, and I want to kind of like, just kind of pull back the curtain a little bit on that, because this is something that we’ve been working on with clients, and seeing how Google is trying to change some of their behavior.
This is happening for a couple of different reasons. One, there are some regulatory pressures that are increasing on Google. So, it’s having to play nice in the sandbox and having to behave. But there’s also some stuff happening on the advertising side, where it’s in Google’s best interest to make the process a little more opaque, you know, to not let you see all the data that was available. And this is something that happened in organic search a while back.
You know, you used to be able to go into your analytics report and see that somebody searched orthopedic surgeon near New Orleans. But then Google started removing some of that data and for some valid reasons as well. Like, I do think that it’s in everybody’s best interest to not make so much data available to everybody. But that data was always available to the advertisers.
So again, you can see where some of the cynicism starts to pop like, okay, you’re interested in privacy, but not for the paying people like why? Then, they are now starting to catch up on that side as well. So stuff starting to become more opaque on the advertising side as well. And Google is pushing more and more like, “Hey, use our new machine learning systems, instead of going and reviewing the data manually. Don’t go look at all this information, just let us do that for you.”
That’s somewhat of a tricky scenario for marketers, and for advertisers to have to trust Google on this kind of scenario. So, more and more using what you can, to control your own destiny, writing good content for yourself, really trying to do as much as you can on the organic side, is going to become more and more important. Like, Google’s putting out more and more restrictions around advertising that’s very specifically medically related.
We’re starting to see this in some of our Google Ads accounts, where if you’re dealing with a very specific medical procedure, Google doesn’t really want to talk about that in the ads anymore.
Michael: So, like all things, Google is not being evenly applied. So some practices are getting that, some aren’t, but this is something that’s kind of happening and the tides are kind of shifting here. So again, like this is really a chance to lean back into that organic side of things, and really explore every opportunity that’s available.
Scott: Yeah, I make the same joke I think I’ve made for the last decade. So, Michael rolls eyes, which is essentially, if you want to be found for jumping jacks in New York City, then you write about doing jumping jacks in New York City. It’s that simple. Google is good at what it does. There’s a lot of things that we can all complain about regarding Google, but from an indexing perspective, you want to control your destiny. Hey, write good content.
You know, when you write good content, everybody, it’s not just about getting found. I mean that’s great, but you’re also setting good expectations. You’re educating your patients. You’re being a better doctor. I always joke with the total hip surgeon, they don’t want to have sciatica patients. They want, you know, they want patients that need total hip procedures, not sciatica patients. They need to go, see somebody else. And the patient doesn’t want to go see the hip surgeon for sciatica.
Scott: So, this is what I mean about setting good expectations. I have a good friend of mine who practices orthopedic surgery, and he tends to really take his time and talk to the patient in very, very detail. But he tends to run behind too, and he set those expectations online. And so the patients that came to him, you know, didn’t mind waiting an extra 5-10 minutes. So, that’s great. You know, everybody wins.
Michael: Hi, everybody. I always appreciate that you tune in, that you’re listening to the show here. I wanted to let you know that we have set up a new newsletter that you can get to at paradigmshift.health, that’s paradigmshift.health. You can go there, and the reason that we’ve got this newsletter is that we’d like to send out a few extra pieces of information with the show.
We also have a full transcript for every single episode that we do, and we can let you know that through email. We can let you know also if we have like a good quote card to be able to show for every episode. So, check that out if you’d like, paradigmshift.health. Thanks so much.
So, if you’re just joining us, this is the “Paradigm Shift of Healthcare” with Michael Roberts and Scott Zeitzer. Our show focuses on the changes practices are facing in business and marketing. We’re talking today about the ways that patients find their doctors online, and so far, we’ve just wrapped up how they use search engines to find their doctors.
Scott, we definitely have plenty of other ways that we can talk about, and one of those things is definitely the reputation marketing side of things, right.
Scott: Yeah, it’s the bow, you know. When you’re…the gift wrap, right, is done, you know, you’ve taped everything down, I’ve got good content on my website. I’m explaining myself with well, and then they want to…the patients want to go elsewhere to kind of take a look at what you’re about. It is happening.
Again, it goes back to that consumerization of healthcare, just because you said you’re great at what you do, well, nowadays, they’re going to go check up on you, you know. And it’s very normal. It’s like every other thing out there. It’s not like, we don’t do it when you go to a hotel. You know, you go to the hotel website. It looks great. Great pictures. It looks like the food’s good and everybody’s smiling, but what do we all do? We go online and look up reviews, the restaurant, hotel. Well, doctor’s office, too.
And I mentioned before, like you said, great expectations with content marketing, you set good expectations with reputation marketing as well. It really does a good job of describing who you are, what you’re about, how well you’re doing without sounding like the lawyer, you know, 11:30 at night, and here’s a win for you. Google’s indexing those reviews. So, that’s helping as well.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, we were talking about some stats that we were looking at with search. Seventy-five percent of patients are influenced by online feedback when choosing a provider, three-fourths of the patients out there are looking at this information, and then 60% of patients are checking online for reviews for provider, even if they’ve been referred.
So Scott, going back to that scenario that you were talking about there at the beginning, you know, they got that referral from their primary care physician. Six out of ten times they’re still going to go check and say like, is this person any good? Is it worth my time to go there?
Scott: Yeah. You know, and that’s one of those conversations we have all the time with a lot of our customers. Like, how do I know, was this somebody that was referred by you guys? Who gets credit, you know, for the win? And I always laugh and go, “Well, we kind of all do, right?” Because the practice has done a great job just taking good care of their patients and getting the word out to friends & family, and other primary care providers, etc, right.
But ultimately, they need reassurance that this is the right pick, and this is that consumerization part, which really changed. And so, sure, you did a great job because you’re taking good care of your patients. We’re doing a good job because we’re getting the word out that you are doing a good job taking good care of your patients. It really is a team effort here.
And it’s certainly possible to break down by doing some surveys where you could literally ask a lot of questions about how did you find me? Did you look me up online? Did you even know about me before the procedure? You know, that kind of stuff. There’s a lot of good questions you can ask, which, by the way, can be weaved into a lot of reputation marketing surveys, so you can learn a little bit as well.
I really do you believe that it’s critical for the success of any practice who wants to control their destiny, to have good online marketing. I just, I mean, I know I’m being a little subjective, though.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely. There’s a point there were like all of these things weave together, but you need to make sure that all of them are carrying their weight, right? Like, you need to see those stats. You need to see that like, “Hey, my website’s doing it’s supposed to do. My reputation marketing is doing what it’s supposed to do. I’m collecting enough reviews.” And that really is like a big component of what makes reputation marketing worth it.
Like, we talked about, is this reputation management, you know, or is it reputation marketing? And if you’re looking at it from the perspective of “I’m trying to get enough people’s input, so that I can show an accurate view of my practice. I’m getting that information out there,” because the term “management” always just makes me think like, “Oh, no,” you know, very ear, all of a sudden, “Oh, no. Somebody left a bad review. Now I have to go to… All patients hate me.” You know it’s like… it’s not that.
Like, so many of the providers that we do work with, the conversation may start off with, “I got a bad review. What do I do about it?” We do something like this service where we get the patient’s more involved, and then suddenly, that score swings completely in the opposite direction, because that one patient that had a bad experience, or the few that did, were not the majority. They’re not the regular experience of patients, but they were…they cared enough to go say something about it.
How do we make it easier for other people to share their experience too? And that’s really what we’re talking about. There are lots of different methods for making that happen, but that’s the goal is just getting more real feedback from people.
Scott: Yeah, Michael, you know, it’s interesting you bring that up. So, a couple of points come out of that. One is, if you’re not doing any reputation marketing, no matter who you use, it tends to be the only the people who are complaining that go online. In general, most patients who are taken care of and happy just go home. And they’re smiling, and they’re happy, and they’re certainly talking about you to their friends and family. But I don’t think they’re going to take the time to go online and write a rave review, unless it’s an amazing experience.
In general, they’re just like, “Man, am I happy that’s over. I’m exhausted.” So asking for that review, while they’re at the practice, usually is the most successful way to get people to fill out a review. But that brings on its own weight, and this is one of those conversations I always have with a practice, because there’s always going to be this balance between wanting to get more better reviews, so that you have a better idea about what’s going on. Sure, that’s great, as well as just processing the patients through the day.
You know, Michael, you and I have had a lot of conversations, so has our staff, about how best to work that request for information into the workflow.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely.
Scott: And I will go back to Michael, you said, what was it? 60% of the people are looking you up? That number is going to be higher post-COVID. I’m telling you, now that people are more in-tuned. I go back to my mom, who’s, I hope honestly, is not listening to this, if she’s the one giving the Zoom reviews, I’m telling you, just based on her lack of knowledge when it comes to computers, if she’s doing that, she’s also looking up that practice. She’s looking into what they’re saying, both positive and negatively about that practice. No doubt in my mind, where they’re getting their kid to do it, right.
So I get it, you’re going to have to change a little bit of workflow here. But if you don’t, the consequences are that you’re not going to get found, or you’re not going to have the right review, and you’re going to have a lot more time on your hands. And I mean it, you know, it’s going to happen.
Michael: Yeah, and it’s funny, because we’ve certainly heard from people that, like, the experience of getting reviews online, I mean, it almost feels like being an Uber driver. You know, did I deliver the traveler successfully? Like a restaurant, you know, that they have…was the food to their liking. And there is an odd shift in how medicine is today, as opposed to the past.
But there are so many opportunities within this. It’s not just about being nice and smiling, but it’s about the opportunity to really demonstrate how much the doctor cares. And so many of the people that we’ve partnered with in this kind of service, that’s the kind of stuff that comes through over and over. It’s not just a show that you put on, but this is really where we’re seeing people get the chance to shine and show who they really are, without, again, having to sound like the lawyer on late night TV.
So, let’s shift over to the social media, which is a minefield all on its own. But let’s talk about some social media stats. So again, that timeframe of 2017 to 2019, patient usage of social media to find a doctor increased 621% from 7%.
Scott: Exactly. But let me pause you for a second, 621%. So, 100% increase? That’s twofold.
Scott: What is 620, is it 12-fold?
Michael: Yes. So, we’re going from 7% to 51% just and in terms of the number of people, and that’s really rapid change in a large group of people in their behavior. Eighty-three percent of people are seeking health information. They’re concerned about incorrect or misleading information. Again, this was pre-COVID. So, think about how much more of that became exacerbated, and then 43%, and very justifiable.
So, 43% said they would find social media information more credible if it was cited by a medical professional, if the doctors themselves are sharing that information, or if people can directly link back to the information that the doctor shared. So, there’s first of all, just the element of combating misinformation, just getting good info out there and providing that, but there’s so much more that’s potential.
You’re talking about this like, kind of like word-of-mouth kind of process. So, you know, we’ve got review sites, and then you’re talking about social media and those kinds of ways. We get the chance to see people respond to different posts and different ads that we help doctors manage, and that sort of stuff, all the time.
And, you know, it’s so funny talking about advertising on social media, you know, we’ll get comments and it’ll say stuff like, “Oh, Dr. Smith. Dr. Smith you know, made such a big difference for me. My life is so much better because of this.” And you know, that’s nice. That’s very kind of that person, but then they’ll go and tag somebody and say, “See Susan, this was who I was talking about.”
You know, such a completely different kind of behavior than what you would expect with just an ad that’s running somewhere. There is that sharing component to all of this stuff. So, there’s the content that you’re you can post directly from your page, and Facebook’s making it harder for that stuff to show up in people’s feed. Like, that’s just, it’s a lot more of a pay-to-play space these days. But even the stuff that is being paid for, the advertising that’s out there, still is getting that like, very natural kind of response and is being shared in a way that, I got to be honest, I didn’t expect before we started running these kinds of campaigns, just how people would interact with that kind of material.
So, it’s really fascinating to see what’s working today, as opposed to just a few years ago, I don’t think that this kind of behavior was as common even that…
Scott: Yeah, you know, I was going to jump in and get into a detailed conversation with you about social media, but we’re coming up towards the end of our broadcast, and I think we should actually have Michael, just one show on social media, because there’s so many nuances to that.
Michael: For sure.
Scott: I can’t tell you how many people just say it’s like, “Hey, I just want to be on Facebook,” and I’m like, yeah, so who in the practice is on Facebook? Nobody. You know, we hate it. I’m like, “Well…” and that may be an issue and we can talk about it more, because again, we are coming up towards the end. I will tell you this, I’ll say it over and over guys, good website, good content on that website, reputation marketing, everything else can be based on that strong platform.
Michael: Absolutely, absolutely. Thank you so much for joining us today for joining us here on our first radio episode. And then if you’re a podcast listener, thanks again for joining us. You know, if you’d like to learn more, feel free to visit our website at p3practicemarketing.com.
We also have our “Paradigm Shift of Healthcare” for ortho practices resource. We’ve got that featured on the homepage and it includes some of the insights that we’ve picked up from a lot of interviews that we’ve done with orthopedic surgeons, who understand these mini shifts that are going on. Thank you again for listening today and until next time, have a great week.
Announcer: Thanks again for tuning in to the “Paradigm Shift of Healthcare.” This program is brought to you by Health Connective, custom marketing solutions for med tech and pharma. Subscribe on Apple podcasts, Google Play or anywhere you listen to podcasts.