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How To Market Telehealth Services
Telehealth and virtual care programs are new concepts in the healthcare industry that have changed the way people access medical care. Although these programs have been in existence for some time now, people have been slow to adopt them. Statistically, nearly 80 percent of patients are willing to try telehealth services, but a majority of them did not. The adoption rates in physicians in the smallest practices and networks of 40 or more doctors are 10 and 30 percent respectively which is way too little for such innovative technology like this.
However, the year 2018 changed the dynamics, and telemedicine programs leaped forward in user adoption. Various medical service lines came up with telehealth facilities which were easily accessible by the patients and also received a good response from users. Virtual care and telehealth programs are becoming so popular, that in the United States alone, almost half of the hospitals have some kind of telemedicine facility for the patients.
Because it is convenient. The technology is a boon for rural areas and secluded locations where it has always been challenging to establish a good healthcare facility. In fact, according to an article in New York Times in 2018, many hospitals have been shut close to rural areas while hundreds of other rural hospitals are on the brink of collapsing in the coming years.
The technology is also helpful for big employers and insurance companies who are offering services that will direct diagnosis, treatment, and medications directly to their employees and/or customers. Also for a common man, telemedicine can save the time needed to go to the hospital, wait for your number, and then receive the treatment. With telemedicine, the process becomes fast, easy, and more intuitive.
How to Market a Telehealth Service?
Telehealth has the potential to save a huge amount annually for the healthcare system. This makes it a definite area to be poised for growth. A separate study by Towers Watson concluded that this virtual care and telemedicine industry has the potential to save $6 billion in healthcare costs annually.
Despite being a thriving industry, it is still lagging. Doctors, especially those who are practicing independently, find it hard to meet consumer demand. One of the probable causes is the lack of knowledge required to market these services. Here are some steps which can help you market telehealth and make sure it stays successful in the long run.
Know Your Target Audience
To fully incorporate telemedicine to your organization, you first have to understand the consumers and audience you are trying to tap. You might want to know what percent of your patients come from neighboring counties and rural areas. Is there any particular time of the day that the patients schedule their appointment? If so, what facility do they opt for?
Aside from focusing on online treatment programs, it is also advisable to note who are common patients and urgent-care seeking Millennials. This gathered information can help your team understand the different demands of the patients so that you can cater to their needs.
Construct a Website
When moving forward in the telehealth world, it is crucial to remain connected with your patients online. Constructing a website so that your patients know about your organization is extremely important. If you already have one, you can update it to include the information about your new telemedicine service and the virtual health facilities that your organization offer.
Update each page on your website with a Telemedicine Available Now or a message similar to this informing your users that they can use this new feature. Even if users came to your website for something else, they would know that your organization has this service and may consult in the future.
Tackle The Questions
Many patients are aware of the concept of telemedicine, however, they would like to know what services your organization offers in this segment. You may want to include a list of FAQs on your website answering the most common questions your patients may have.
Be as transparent as you can about the cost involved. Also, it is advisable to list the health issues you want to target using telehealth (severe health problems such as fractures couldn’t be treated virtually, but skin rashes can probably be handled). Listing the process involved when a patient seeks telemedicine is also a good practice to have them prepared.
Make Use Of Social Media
If you have a social media account, make sure your new telehealth services are promoted there. However, merely posting on your Facebook/Instagram pages might not reach the numbers you are expecting. For these reasons, it is advisable to invest in social media ads and let your sponsored posts do some extra work. This will make sure that the message reaches more people and even new potential consumers.
Have a list of your patient’s email addresses? Then make sure to send a notification to your patients informing that a new telemedicine facility has been established in your organization. Attach a link with the email that directs them straight to the page explaining everything about the telehealth facility that you have incorporated in your organization.
You can also consider leaving your patients with a voicemail informing them about this new service. Also, you can make use of partner physicians and others who can refer your services to their patients.
Create Search And Non-search Ads
Creating a search can get your services right in front of those who are looking for it. For example, when someone searches for telemedicine, Google displays your advertisement on the top of the search results which drives the patient’s attention. However, this approach doesn’t guarantee that they need your services at that time.
Non-search ads are the most commonly used promotional ways to try to make a product reach larger audiences. It is crucial for situations where the target audience isn’t searching specifically for your services. The Google Display Network helps advertisers to display ads on blogs, throughout the web, local news websites, apps and games, YouTube, etc.
While telemedicine is a great technology to help patients get the healthcare facility right in their personal space, it is also crucial for providers to inform patients about the limitations of this program. Not every health issue can be treated virtually, and telehealth providers should understand this and develop their marketing strategy accordingly.