There is no question that marketing in general has drastically changed since the dawn of the Web 2.0 era less than a decade ago, and medical practice marketing is no exception.
Patient communication is no longer as simple as a phone call or a postcard for upcoming appointments. Practices now have to be aware of several forms of communication, patient engagement, feedback, search engine rankings, and more. Given the fragmented nature of maintaining online presences through multiple social networks, implementing a strong communications strategy can be difficult and time consuming for small practices.
On our trip to Chicago for the ASCRS Annual Meeting last weekend, we had the chance to speak to the people at Demandforce, a marketing company that addresses these issues by helping medical practices streamline their online communications.
The company has officially teamed up with Facebook and acquired Timely.is to offer a complete online communications dashboard specifically tailored for a number of industries, including optometric and ophthalmic practices.
Demandforce’s software places email, text messaging, online reviews, SEO tools, and all of your social media outlets into one streamlined program. The software makes it easy for your practice to automatically send out appointment reminders, thank you notes, or promotions via text, email or social media.
Demandforce also collects certified reviews of your practice from various sites and sends them to Facebook and Google in order to provide a high level of visibility. The reviews are also posted on a business profile page created by Demandforce, which is then distributed to dozens of search engines and directories across the web.
While these features are great communication tools, the company rep explained that a large aspect of what sets Demandforce’s software apart is its ability to foster online patient engagement. Online referral features allow patients to refer their friends to your practice. A tracking component lets you see which of your patients referred their friends so you can reward them with discounts or giveaways. Follow-up communication also encourages patient engagement through automated post-visit surveys so you can identify where your practice is doing well and where it could use improvement.
Moving forward, it seems that most practices will need to adopt this kind of all-encompassing communications strategy. As online patient engagement becomes commonplace at medical practices, it will be interesting to see how Demandforce and other similar companies further develop their software and adapt to changing forms of communication.