Most people today go online to seek education about their health issues, and to search for healthcare providers via popular review forums. People still ask friends for referrals, but are just as likely search the Internet for well‐reviewed providers in the target healthcare specialty they need—using key search terms such as “hearing practices,” “hearing care provider,” “hearing specialist” or “audiologist.”
A practice marketing recommendation of CareCredit, a patient financing company that offers hearing practice members marketing resources and support, is to post patient education material. This allows you to tap into the Internet search trend by using your website as a vehicle for patient education. Helpful and informative content is highly searchable, and will boost your number of site visitors.
CareCredit supplies its members with free patient education content. You can add to this content by composing short articles on hearing health topics that inform and educate. By offering “educational messaging” on your website you can truly raise your practice’s profile and position yourself as an expert in your field.
Build Trust with Educational Content
To capture as many online searchers as possible, think of your website as more than just a signpost that lists the services and products your practice offers. Educational content in the form of short articles or blog posts that answer common hearing health questions draw a greater number of end-users to your site through online searches.
Informative articles attract readers and build their trust in your expertise. When people search online with keywords like “hearing loss,” “hearing aids,” and related words, they will be more likely to land on your site if you are consistently uploading helpful articles using these terms. Why? Because Google and other search engines prefer content with substance, and direct end-users to sites that regularly post such articles. Websites that regularly add “fresh” content land at the top of most searches. Websites that don’t include content or haven’t been updated in a while tend to get pushed to the bottom of search lists.
Which types of patients do you hope to reach with your hearing health message?
Before you get started, be sure to check your marketing strategy and identify the types of patients you want to reach with your hearing health message. The next step is to “tell the story” and gear it to the audience you want to reach. You’re looking for ways to stand out from other practices. A clear message that links your “know-how” to your message and creates a solid “point of difference” from the competition will help get your practice noticed.
Think Through Your Strong Points
Ask yourself these questions:
- What makes your practice exceptional (think of its functional and emotional features)?
- What capabilities make your practice hard to replicate?
- How can you show that your practice is up-to-date on local and international trends in hearing healthcare?
Even if you don’t have much Internet experience, you can use content strategy as an important foundation of patient education. Your strategy can include posting content to your website, and also delivering it as handouts face-to-face in your office. This two-pronged patient education strategy can be used to raise your practice profile and reach business goals. Your content strategy helps develop your practice’s overall story and pinpoints ways to engage your audience. Simply put, you can use content to help change or enhance patient behavior.
Tips on addressing the “whys” of hearing health in your messaging
Focus your messaging on NYUs (not-yet-users). Motivate them to become RTAs (ready-to-acts). Most RTAs will be on the lookout for a hearing health practice when they’re ready. At first, they are searching for information on hearing loss. Your regularly-posted articles help them find you–a helpful hearing health professional who is well-positioned to offer them both education and services.
Encourage more NYUs to get treatment for hearing loss…even if it is in the form of assistive listening devices (ALDs) or Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs). The hearing healthcare industry has been trying to accomplish this for decades. And it’s important to be sensitive in how you address issues of decreased hearing or hearing loss—so you are not seen as trying to sell something.
Many online NYUs—about 85% or 14 million—are looking for health information. Google data suggests that more than 1 million searches are done every month on keywords or terms related to hearing. Plus, the hearing loss population is growing at 160% faster than the general population (that is about 1-1/2 times faster)! This is a great opportunity to use online tools and patient education to increase hearing health awareness to convert NYUs into RTAs and hearing aid users.
Offer “Lunch & Learn” Events at Your Practice
Educate your community on hearing health! It may help your practice get more new patients in the door by hosting “Hearing Health Lunch & Learn” events. Such educational gatherings provide patient prospects with the information they are seeking, and reinforce your reputation as a local hearing health resource.
Here are ideas to consider for Lunch & Learn events:
- Help prospects access hearing health tools and information (eg, offer information on tinnitus, hearing loss, and how modern hearing technology can help them hear sounds they thought were lost).
- Raise interest and awareness in your invitation to Lunch & Learn events by including questions, such as Do you often ask others to repeat what they said? and Do you have a hard time hearing in restaurants or other social settings? or Do you often ask to turn the volume louder on your TV?
- Include an RSVP along with contact information, such as your toll-free phone number or your office’s email. Provide a map to your practice.
- Provide a background profile about you, and describe any unique offerings of your practice in a concise yet appealing manner.
Topic Ideas for Patient Education Content
Remember that you don’t need to be a sophisticated writer to create helpful content. You can create short, easy-to-read articles that can be used on website, blog, or in your office as one-page handouts. Here are some topics to consider:
- Hear more to keep your mind sharp. Protect cognitive function by treating even mild hearing loss as soon as it is diagnosed. Recent studies have found a strong link between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline.
- Treat hearing loss to improve your mood. Quality-of-life and emotional benefits can be gained by treating hearing loss. If left untreated, hearing loss can lead to depression, social isolation, and dissatisfaction with life, according to the National Academy on an Aging Society. The technology in many new hearing aids also offer greater sound clarity–and it feels good to hear the world clearly again.
- Increase safety and awareness by hearing from all directions. With advanced directional microphone technology in many new hearing aids, patients can hear from the side and back–important when steering a car or talking inside a vehicle.
- Stop pretending to hear what people say. Today’s hearing aids can pick up variations in speech, making it easier to follow conversations in a variety of settings. New technologies help you pick up more speech details, even amid music and noise.
The myriad ways your patients interact with your practice helps to promote your products and services. Reach out to loyal patients to provide testimonials for your website—yet another way to provide helpful content to prospective patients.
Continue building on existing patient relations while also attracting new leads and prospects through the educational content on your website, presented to the community via your Lunch & Learns, through helpful handouts, and more. If needed, bring in a solutions provider to help you work through your strategy, taking into account long-term growth strategies that further raise your business profile.
Image credits: CareCredit; © Helder Almeida | Dreamstime.com