A majority of patients research doctors online before booking an appointment, so where should you focus to clean up your digital footprint? The conversation continues as Michael and Scott dive into three more ways to win online search: map listings, mobile-first design, and voice search. Follow the discussion and learn more about how to capture this set of patients that your practice might otherwise miss.
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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. We are following up today with our second radio show here on HealthcareNOW Radio. We’ve got part two of our top six ways that patients search for doctors online. If you miss the first part, you can catch up with it on HealthcareNOW Radio’s site, and stream, and all those different ways that we’ve got the show going out, or you can catch up directly on our show page at paradigmshift.health.
Scott: Yeah, it’s always weird that paradigmshift.health. Not dot com guys, dot health. Just a quick recap. We talked about the following ways that patients find their doctors through search engines. Obviously, Google is a key spot where patients go, but, but that doesn’t always mean patients are visiting your site. They may be going to say, review sites. A lot of patients now are immediately going to say Healthgrades, Vitals, Google Reviews, and 75%, is a big number, 75% of patients are influenced by online feedback.
So gone are the days everybody of getting a referral from a primary care doc, etc., another doc, and automatically that patient’s seeing you. I’m sure they still do, but remember, 75% of patients influenced by online feedback. And last but not least, social media. This can be patients asking family or friends for recommendations, or they can look up a practice on say, Facebook. Those are the things we talked about. Michael, what are we talking about today?
Michael: Well, we’ve got three more to complete our six. Simple addition would say that we’ve got three more to talk about today. The first one that we’re gonna look at is one that’s very closely related to search engine optimization, to the way that people go and just look up in search engines, and that’s map listings.
And, you know, it’s not just your Google map listing that you have to consider. There are so many different ways that we could attack this, and we’ll talk about that in just a second, but you know, location is obviously going to be key for a lot of patients.
I mean, you do have those mega centers where people go for a certain kind of care, but there is a lot to do with convenience. There’s a lot to do with like, hey, if I like this particular doctor, is that doctor in the location that’s closest to me, or does that mean I have to drive across town? You know, if you live in a metro area.
So there’s a lot of things where still like you have to a physical location. Despite all the advances in telehealth and all the many changes, a lot of times, you’re still going to see that doctor in an office and those map listings are critical for that. Not just because I want to have enough information when I look up that listing, but there’s so many things where the details of that listing can help inform where you do land in search results.
Scott: Absolutely. I mean, Michael, just from a pure trying to help your patients perspective if you’re running a practice where you’re part of a large hospital and there are multiple locations, I am sure there are a lot of patients that wake up in the morning and go, where am I going again? What’s going on? That kind of thing.
And so just from that pure perspective, like you said, locations, get into helping a patient just make a decision. They don’t want to drive 40 miles across town. They want to find somebody locally. They already are a patient and they just want to get to the appropriate place.
My wife was seeing somebody and she showed up at the wrong place and the front desk was like, oh, it happens all the time. And when she came back, I was like, you would think they’d figure that out. You know, fix that.
Michael: Do something about it.
Scott: Sure. And then Michael, there’s that other part about how important having the right locations is for search engine optimization.
Michael: Yeah, 100%. I mean, there are so many more searches now that are happening. Again, we talked about this some in the last episode where people’s behavior has adapted to the tools that we’re using. So you go on a search engine and you can type in “orthopedic surgeon near me,” “plastic surgeon near me,” who or whatever type of surgeon you’re looking for a doctor or whatever. And you use that phrase “near me,” and that’s something that, you know, that the tools are tracking where you’re at, they’re looking at how closely those businesses are located.
You think about the different processes that just go into verifying these listings and these map listings, you know, there’s either some sort of like postcard back in the day or a phone call or some sort of system that they’re using to verify that there is a physical location where that physician is at and now you’re, you know, just kind of mapping some distances.
So what’s interesting about those kinds of search results when you have that “near me,” is that it’s not just about showing the closest doctors, it’s not just a matter of proximity, but proximity is a definitely a big factor there. But you’ll have the proximity, and then you’ll have things like the ratings that we talked about last week, like that goes into it.
Content on the website, we’ve definitely seen content that really clearly explains a specialty influencing map listing results sometimes. So let’s say, you know, hip replacement surgeon that does this particular type of procedure, this particular type of way of doing that, you know, you’ll sometimes see in Google results website mentions this, this, this, you know, that specific phrase that you included.
So there’s so many things where we’re talking about each of these topics as like a one-off as separate things that each need attention, but these things blend together incredibly. So you can’t just look at it and go like, well, as long as I get my map listing, I’m good. I don’t have to do anything else.
Scott: Yeah. A couple of things about that. One is you bring up how meshed they, you know, all this stuff gets to be. And no matter who you use to help you with your online marketing, and I say this with really deep respect for all the people that work so hard out there, when you choose somebody for your online marketing, make sure they’re expert at what they do. Make sure they understand the nuances. It is complex.
It’s not like it was 20 years ago where you could just check things off like, website, done, you know, map listings, done. It’s like, well, it’s never really done. And how they interact with each other, requires people with experience, you know, to look into that.
Michael, if I’m not mistaken, there might be like 70 different types of bots or local search engine companies out there like Hotfrog, and which is my favorite name.
Michael: Of course. It’s silly because like in order to really succeed in this space to really, especially if you’re in a highly competitive area, you’re in really big market, something like that, you need to be on as many of those things as you can. And you need to provide as much detail as you possibly can.
And some of them are even getting down to things like has a parking lot, has this kind of commodity, has this sort of thing in there. But, you know, again, if you’re in a big market, if you’re in a city, like, that kind of stuff really matters.
Scott: It does. I’m sure it does.
Michael: And so there are tools that help distribute that kind of information more easily. There’s a tool called Moz Local. Yext is another one of those things that can help you get that information out there, and into a lot of places. They all have their strengths and weaknesses so I’m not necessarily advocating one over the other, but all of these tools help you start addressing the fact that there are this ridiculous number of listing sources out there.
And we could go super in detail and I don’t think we need to go so far down, but there are even content aggregators when it comes to this kind of stuff like these big kind of data warehouses as I’ll just call them and getting information, correct information into there will help definitely kind of push and correct information out to a lot of other sources. But just all of that to say, this stuff can be more complicated than just going to Google and updating your listing.
Scott: Bear in mind, I get that everybody thinks that Google is this like mega, giant tech giant, which it is, but still Google will utilize and index all of those small search engine, localized companies, etc., that do this kind of work. It’s not like Google’s magic and knows where everything is, it pulls data like it does everything. It indexes data and pushes that data out. And I know that it’s a pain, it’s just much to update, but bear in mind, you’re making the day better for everyone.
So when you do get it right, your front desk is answering the same questions less about parking, about what floor you’re on. Your patients are happier, your front desk is happier, you’re happier because they’re coming into your office. All those things come into play. It’s not just about like how to get found on Google.
Michael: Yeah, absolutely.
Scott: A lot of the stuff, Michael, that we talk about is, hey, yes, of course, we’re gonna help you get found, but we’re also gonna set better expectations for the patient. We’re also going to help the patient. We’re also gonna help with your workflow. Those things are related. So don’t think of it only as, oh, I got, you know, update my local listings. It’s like, well, yeah, you do, because wouldn’t you like your patients to know that there’s a parking lot across the street all the time?
Michael: Everybody turns into like a mopey teenager kind of sound. It seems like my son kind of coming through, oh, I’ve got to do.
Scott: I’m a little bit older than you so it might have grown past that stage, but yes, I still remember that. It’s not just about marketing. It’s also helping your patients get to you more efficiently in the right patients.
Michael: For sure. Let me hit one more topic on this, and then let’s jump to mobile devices and talk about, again, how closely related these two items are.
Scott: That’s right.
Michael: One more thing on a map listings would be, you know, if you’re a practice that has multiple physicians in your practice, there’s definitely a degree of coordination that you’re gonna want to use between, you know, the actual map listing itself, but then also Dr. Smith, who is at this location with medical entities, with law firms, with these other kinds of organizations that have specialists like this, where they’re basically their own brand within a brand, you know, like the physician inside of the larger practice.
You definitely want to make sure that you’re being very coordinated about how you approach that because there are advantages to focusing in on the physician as well as the practice. And if you coordinate that, you really have a lot of opportunities to succeed.
We’ve definitely seen scenarios where people go too hard one direction or the other where they’ll ignore the practice brand or the physician brand. And if you have the capability, I would definitely recommend going after both. So let’s talk about mobile devices and how that interacts with all this.
Scott: I think it’s a good idea. I do want to add one thing to all that about, you know, local, the doctor versus the practice to throw my two cents in on that. It’s not a technical issue sometimes. Sometimes it’s a political issue or an ego issue. Just try to remember that if you’re taking the time to work with each other, you will get better results because sometimes it’s just a matter of, you know, working out the details.
So getting back to like thinking a little bit about mobile devices, first of all, at a minimum, 40% of the people looking for your site are using a phone or an iPad, more likely a phone. And I’m gonna tell you something, I’ve had this conversation about demographics and that would be both age and location. The phone is so ubiquitous across the entire demographic spectrum so please do not ignore it. If your website does not look good on a phone, that’s a red flag, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re really talking about how you get found. And it’s a little bit different.
Patients can use a lot of different search methods, everything we already mentioned, you know, on mobile, for sure. They go on Facebook on their phone, they talk to their phone, they do searches on their phone, they’re opening maps on the phone. So if you’re not focused on that, you’re gonna have an issue. I think on P3, Michael, if I’m not mistaken, it’s like, is it really 40% to 60%? I mentioned 40, but it’s as high as 60% in some areas. Is that right?
Michael: Really, depending on like the type of practice that you’re looking at, the type of area that you’re located in, but yeah, even the ones that we’ve gone back…so we work with a couple of hundred websites for practices in this space, and so we’ll kind of go back and do some usage checks like this.
And even on the practices where we thought like, oh, this one’s mostly skewing towards older audiences or it’s a rural practice or, you know, whatever, still those numbers are competing at least at 40% in terms of the number of people that are using their mobile devices to approach it.
It’s funny that you talk about tablets because you know, there was that moment. And I’m now old enough in web history to remember that moment when tablets are gonna take over, you know, and desktops were going to go by the wayside. But, you know, it really is down to like mostly to your computers and your phones themselves. But, you know, now they’re starting to lump in other categories to that in terms of even things like all the different devices that are out there, including voice search. And we’ll talk about that more later on.
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 and 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, you know, listen, if you’re just joining us, this is the “Paradigm Shift of Healthcare” with Michael Roberts and Scott Zeitzer. The show here focuses on the changes that practices are facing in business and marketing. And we’re talking about the ways that patients are finding their doctors online today, talking about some of those changes. There’s been a lot changes in the space.
So far we’ve looked at the importance of getting your map listings right. Now, we’re just getting into mobile devices and how much that’s changed the game. So yeah, you know, at least 40% of website traffic definitely coming from mobile devices of some sort.
Scott: Yeah. And if you’re at a big city or even a decent-sized city, you’re closer to that 60%. I wanted to touch again on this whole idea of, like, does your website look good on a phone? There’s a term that we use it’s called, is your site responsively designed? Responsive, not responsibly. I’m sure. I hope that it is, you’re being responsible.
Michael: All that kind of stuff.
Scott: There we go. So responsively designed means that the site itself is designed so that it will respond to the device that is viewing your site. And there’s ways to code for that on modern websites, it did recognize is that it’s a phone and even a specific type of phone and then lays it out accordingly.
And just the kind of general rule of thumb here, if your site was designed over five years ago, it probably needs some sort of update when it comes to this specific issue. And it becomes very important to everybody because your site could look weird under certain circumstances.
And I don’t mean just like outlier kind of things, just how the content gets laid out when you go from one doctor to another doctor. And Michael, I’ve had this conversation with so many practices, people have no patience on their phone. Like they have very little patience on their laptop or their desktop, but they have less patience on their phone. And if your site starts coming up weird, you’re gone.
And anybody who’s listening to this conversation just think about, you know, the difference between going to like, if you’re a sports fan to say ESPN and some local site, and it’s not really giving you your scores correctly, you just leave. You go off to ESPN or to some other larger sports site that knows how to do it.
And the same thing is going to happen with your practice. If they want to find information about you and you’re not going to bring that up correctly online, that’s a big deal. Speed becomes a big issue too. How quickly does the site download. Michael, I know you’ve looked into that kind of information as well about if it doesn’t download fast enough how quickly just people leave.
Michael: Oh, yeah. I mean, there was a big stat that Amazon touted for a long time, and I don’t even remember the numbers, so I’m not even gonna make them up or anything, but, you know, like tenths and hundredths of a second meant the difference between the amount of money that Amazon made depending on whether people would stick around or not.
Factor that in to some of the newer updates that Google is doing to their search algorithm, which for better or for worse, you know, it holds a lot of sway over how the internet runs today. But, you know, even things like your site could load quickly, but you know how that thing happens when you start loading a site and you go to click on that link, but everything shifts down like three times because the images are suddenly showing up and all the ads and all that other kind of junk that starts popping in. Stuff like that is going to start negatively affecting ranking. So if you have that kind of frustrating experience for people, that’s gonna make an impact.
So there are things where more and more and more, we as patients, as consumers, as just people, have expectations on how the web should behave. And there are more and more systems that are now rewarding the correct behavior.
And people are always going to try to gain that kind of stuff, but at the same time, like Google is trying. Google is trying to update those results. And the other search engines that are out there too, Bing and DuckDuckGo, and all the others, they are trying to favor the experiences that we want online. It’s how they make money.
Scott: There you go. It’s how they make money. I was going to bring that up as well. Guys, Google makes a lot of money. So does Bing, with online ads. That’s how they make their bucks, and they’re making more and more of it on mobile. So if your site isn’t good on a phone and we talked about it, how it gets laid out. Speed, etc., it’s a big deal.
A good rule of thumb for everybody listening in terms of, like, is my site ready for an update, or do I need to start budgeting for it? A good rule of thumb is try to remember when your website was developed. That last major overhaul, and then look up what iPhone came out that year.
That’s what we do because, you know, you fall into this trap, like if, oh, my website’s only five years old. So you start thinking like your car. My car is over five years old and I’m very happy with it. It’s no big deal. There’s not that much technology that’s really changed for my car. It’s not a big deal. Now, if I don’t want to get the newest and greatest, that’s up to me, but not that excited about it. It’s not my thing.
Now on a website, five years ago, that’s a major change in how much technology has changed between now and five years ago. And if you look up what iPhone came out when your site was developed, well, that’s what that site was developed for, everybody. And I think that’s a critical thing you’ve got to take a look at.
As a matter of fact, when you start looking at companies to do your site, ask the question, like, do you update the site as part of the package? Like when the new iPhone, whatever 76 comes out, are you going to update accordingly? Because if they’re not, that’s part of what needs to go into your calculations about costs and, if anything, this particular company is doing.
Michael: For sure. Fascinating tidbit I just read just to go down this iPhone path for just a second.
Michael: There’s a number of consumers that are saying that they’re going to skip the iPhone 13, just because of the connotation that it’s number 13 and it’s just unlucky. So there you go. You never know. So maybe we’ll have iPhone 14 out shortly after this release as soon as…
Scott: There we go. Or they’ll come up with, what is it? Instead of iPhone X, there will be iPhone Y.
Michael: X3. That way, it’s …
Scott: The existential iPhone Y.
Michael: We’ve got all kinds of ideas here. So going along this mobile phone path, we’re looking at these individually, but there’s so stinking related to each other, and so completely dependent upon one another. Voice search is now…
Michael:…very much a part of what we’re needing to consider from how we communicate with patients. And what’s interesting about this is that there’s two drastically different experiences that I want to bring up in terms of what voice search means.
So voice search means, hey, I just hop on my iPhone and I go, “Hey, Siri.” And I give that question to Siri, and then I get their search results from there. Or, you know, you have Alexa with your home device or you have whatever iPhone device or you have the apple speaker.
Scott: Home pods. Yeah. Home pods.
Michael: They have all the pods and speakers and hubs and all these fun kinds of things that you can start talking to now. But you do have all these different ways that you can interact. And you think about what the difference is in terms of results for those two different devices.
Your cell phone, you’re getting some sort of display and maybe your assistant on your phone is reading off some sort of result, but you usually have some sort of interaction to be able to click deeper, to go further into it. Whereas with this, you know, home speaker experience that you’ve got, you’re just hearing something. Like what’s the weather going to be today? And you hear that back. You don’t see a screen, you don’t get any kind of result.
So you think about this in terms of how people are using any kind of health information, you know, maybe what are the causes of a particular disease? What are they…or a particular condition? Some of those kinds of things, but it really starts splintering off very drastically, depending on which approach you’re going to look at.
But all that said, and I think that we’re going to be mostly talking about like how it interacts with mobile devices, but the use of voice search to find a doctor grew from 4% in 2017 to 31% in 2019. Again, the stats that we’re looking at are pre-pandemic stats so I can only imagine how much more some of these kinds of stats have grown since this study was conducted.
Scott: I just want to repeat that, 4% in 2017, 31% in 2019. We’re now in 2021, that number is higher, everybody. People are using, they’re using their words and I’m doing it. And, you know, Apple just came out with a whole set of computers based on the same chip as the phone.
Now, a lot of people may go, well, what does that mean? What does that matter? Well, that same chip can now interpret what you say much more clearly. And so I have a feeling that those numbers are gonna skyrocket a little bit as everybody kind of adapts accordingly, and a lot more people would just be speaking into their laptop as well as their phone. So I just want to kind of lay that there.
And we started working on this with a lot of our practices and doing a lot of testing and, you know, conversational phrasing is so important. So you’ve got to speak your patient’s language, which, you know, I know all doctors try very hard to explain. There’s that balance of explaining it on the patient’s level so that they understand it without glossing over or seeming condescending, etc. It’s a balance that we always have me write good content, and that same thing has to happen in conversational. Correct, Michael?
Michael: Absolutely. Absolutely. Going back to this stat that we just threw out, this is a study that Binary Fountain conducted and they ran this information to find out. But like you think about that jump from 4% to 31%, just how much more aggressive that’s gonna continue to happen.
And yeah, it’s not the same kind of search. Again, like we, as consumers adapted our behavior to what Google put in front of us. And now Google is not the only one putting something in front of us by which we can obtain information.
So instead of just typing “orthopedic surgeon near me” into our laptop or entering into our mobile device, now we’re asking properly formed questions again, like real humans. We’re talking to these devices and saying, you know, “Who’s the closest orthopedic surgeon? Who’s the best orthopedic surgeon near me?”
And even the way that people are starting to write some of their content to better rank for these types of questions are reflecting that kind of format, that kind of frequently asked questions kind of format. So if you are a practice, I certainly don’t recommend you writing a page of who’s the best orthopedic surgeon and then writing yourself into that page.
Scott: No, no.
Michael: But you do have to consider that a question like that. So let’s just think through like, again, how enmeshed all these topics are. So voice search, somebody says, “Who’s the best orthopedic surgeon near me?” It’s not going to go to your website, it’s going to go to a review website.
Scott: That’s right.
Michael: And so you have to have a good set of strong reviews. Somebody takes a look at that review and goes, okay, I want to know more about Dr. Smith, let me go over to Dr. Smith’s website. Where’s Dr. Smith located?
So now I’ve covered like four of the six topics here. I mean, I’m probably doing it from my phone so I’ve probably hit like almost all of the different ways that we’re talking about here in terms of how these six ways come together. So it really is something that we encourage you to consider all of these different ways.
But the good thing is that you don’t have to start over to accommodate all of the different ways that patients are trying to reach you, that they are trying to find out more about you. Having a good website, having good reviews set up, having your map listing squared away, having good content written online.
These things will help you approach this, but do keep looking for all the different ways that these things are evolving. Because even things like this, this kind of question-led format, that’s a more recent development and you should keep on trying to adjust to work with that.
So, listen, thanks for joining us today. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to visit our website at p3practicemarketing.com. We have a “Paradigm Shift of Healthcare” for ortho practices resource that we featured on the homepage. And it includes a lot of the insights that we talk about here and with other orthopedic surgeons that we’ve interviewed throughout this past year, the past couple of years now, because we’ve been doing the show for that amount of time. But until next time, thank you so much for joining us. Have a great week.
Scott: Have a great week.
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