If you are an allopathic doctor, then you are one among the other 9,88,922 doctors practising in India. And this holds true across several other medical specialisations. You can find a clinic in every nook and corner. How do you attract patients to your practice? What do you do to become more visible to your target audience? The only solution is to be different from others and think out-of-the-box!
This article will familiarize you with different approaches to making yourself stand out from the crowd, and increase your patient base.
Go the digital way- Healthcare Digital Marketing
According to the Internet and Mobile Association of India and market research firm, IMRB International, the number of Internet users in India is approximately 465 million. Now, to capture this huge base, you need to be present there. Following strategies may help you attract these digital users to your practice:
1. The power of social media
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are emerging platforms to market your practice.
- Facebook has 241 million users in India
- Twitter has 23.2 million monthly active users in India
- LinkedIn has 30 million users in India
- YouTube has 60 million unique users in India
These platforms have a huge user base; having them into your social network will definitely increase your visibility. Content marketing on these platforms can be highly beneficial; it is 3 times more effective and costs 62% less than traditional marketing.
2. Google my business
Having your page in Google My Business can increase the chances of users finding you when searching for doctors online. What more, it is absolutely free!
3. Website/ Portal
A website or portal of your practice/ profile can serve many purposes like:
- It can help the patients evaluate your practice
- It can be a platform to showcase your capabilities
- It can be a medium to keep your patients updated about the recent happenings or announcements
Most importantly, it can be a tool for patient education. It is estimated that 78 % of patients find custom content to be interesting and is a good way to build relationships. You can post recent news in healthcare, blogs, or healthcare tips to engage with the patients.
4. Doctor review sites
Register on any of the doctor review sites to help your practice get noticed by patients looking for a consultation. A survey reported that 96% of online users look for doctor reviews before taking any decision. Apart from Google reviews, the other review sites for doctors include:
Cost: There are two options when considering digital marketing of your practice. You can either have an in-house team or outsource it to an agency.
An in-house team consisting of a digital marketing head, social media content person, technical and design people will cost you approximately 2,00,000 INR per month. Outsourcing the digital marketing activities to an agency is the best, to start with. The agency provides you the access to experts in social media marketing, search engine optimization, content writing, web designing and much more. The cost of outsourcing depends upon the types and number of services you want. There are various packages available, starting from Rs. 7,000 to Rs. 18,000 per month. The services usually include:
- Basic and advanced digital marketing
- Social media posts
- Image and video marketing
- E-mail campaigns
- Content marketing and SEO
- Chat and support
An Electronic Health Record (EHR) system incorporated into your practice can make the operations much smoother. Even a basic EHR system comes with useful features like digital medical records, appointment scheduler, SMS reminders, email reminders, etc.
Some EHR sellers include:
- Akhil Systems Pvt. Ltd.
- Aosta Software Technologies
- Binary Spectrum
- Bio-Analytical Technologies
- Birlamedisoft Pvt Ltd.
- Custom Soft
- Doctor Sahab
- E-Care India Pvt. Ltd.
- Healthcell India
- Indus Infocom Pvt. Ltd
- JVS Group
- MD Synergy
- Medpac Systems
- Millennium Business Solutions
- Novel Medicare Solutions Pvt. Ltd
- Revenue XL Inc.
- Spigot Software
- Stylus Systems Pvt. Ltd
Cost: The cost of implementing any EHR system will depend upon the inbuilt features, and usually ranges from Rs. 1 lakh - 45 lakh. To make sure that such costs don’t negatively impact your practice’s cash flow, you can opt for a Loan Against Property for Doctors that offer loan amounts up to Rs. 2 crore which can not only be used it to install EMRs but used for any other professional or personal need.
2. Exploit mobile users
Did you know that India has 300 million smartphone users? Using mobile phones to access the internet is becoming a common practice. In 2016, 24.33% of Indians used mobile phones to access the internet. Another study showed that an average Indian spends 28 hours on mobile per week. So why not capture this mobile phone user base? You can reach this user group through social media platforms, website, educational portals, and customized messaging.
Cost: Using mHealth is quite cost-effective. Once you have a database of patients, you can use any messaging device to engage with them. The messaging device can even be a part of the EHR that you use or can be a service that the digital marketing agency provides. Therefore, there is no additional cost!
3. Offer virtual visits- Telemedicine
Telemedicine can help you to keep in touch with your patients beyond the office hours and premises. Patients usually appreciate such virtual visits as it is both convenient and time-saving.
A basic telemedicine set up and function will need:
- Medical devices
- A Communication platform and video conferencing equipment
- Telemedicine carts, cases, wall mounts and other equipment
- Bandwidth and an internet connection
- Training and support staff
Cost: Setting up a telemedicine can cost you anything ranging from Rs. 15 lakh - 30 lakh, including equipment, technology, staff and support. However, considering the long-term benefits, it is worth investing. A Business Loan for Doctors offering a loan amount of up to Rs. 50 lakh can be a good way to finance the setup of a telemedicine for practices who want a collateral-free mode of finance.
4. Develop an App
Developing your own app can make you stand out from the rest of your peers. The app can be for the purposes of patient education, updating recent happenings or for practice updates.
Cost: Developing an app is an investment with a long-term return. It should be a well-thought decision, and one with a sketched-out structure and purpose. The simplest of the apps with basic features may cost Rs. 1.2 lakhs; the cost increases based on the features, the layers of interactivity, and sophistication.
The top players in this domain are:
- PointClear Solutions
- Seven Tablets
- Pariksha labs
- Switch Soft Technologies Limited
Improve your in-clinic experience
Patient experience is the most important thing that will distinguish you from your competitors. The following tips will help you to manage and improve in-clinic experience:
- Train your office staff to be polite and cordial to the patients.
- Let the staff be clear with their roles and responsibilities
- Incorporate an appointment scheduler in the office operations (EHR) to help decrease the patient waiting time
- Invest in patient education material- printed and digitalized
- Have a support system in place, in the case of conflicts and complaints
- Have a network of laboratories and pharmacies for hassle-free treatment
Cost: More than the cost, your time is important in hiring the correct team and training them as per your requirements. Depending on the type of practice involved, and the number of staff needed, having a good team may cost you from Rs. 50,000 to a few lakh rupees. An investment of about Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1 lakh may be needed for patient education material. The cost may vary depending upon the number and the types of material you need.
Whichever strategy you choose for increasing your practice visibility, an adequate investment is also equally important. You may explore various financing options from self-financing to obtaining a loan. Loans for Doctors offers a tailor-made financing solution for the unique needs of doctors who want to take your practice to the next level. Making your practice visible to your patients may need an initial investment, but the return on investment is definitely lucrative!
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