Posted in #HCSM, Marketing

Medical Marketing: What Does Your Audience Value Online?


Alex Membrillo

By now, people know that it is imperative that you market your medical practice online. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center report, over three-quarters of consumers start their search for a new doctor online. By ensuring that you have the sort of marketing content that patients find compelling, you can increase your chances that you are the one that they choose.

A few of the best digital marketing assets to have:

1. Testimonials and reviews.

Search Engine Land found that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation. Ask happy patients to provide reviews that can help show your high level of care to new individuals. You can ask in person, include a link to your review page in emails or post on social media. You can include links to common review sites on your site or showcase a few of your best reviews directly on your website. By offering this sort of social proof, you can show potential patients how well your service is regarded by people already seeing your physicians.

2. Answers to common health questions.

About seven in ten individuals has searched online for answers to health questions in the past year. By providing information about common health issues that your patients may face, you can help them be more informed patients and live healthier lives. This sort of content can also make it easier for patients to know when symptoms indicate that they should make an appointment with their doctor. Not only will they be more likely to come in for a visit, they will also have more positive health outcomes by getting care more quickly.

3. A strong social media presence.

A study about social media in healthcare found that 41% of those questioned would choose a healthcare provider based on their social media reputation. By keeping up with what people are saying about your practice on social media and getting in touch with people who have had issues, you can manage your reputation online and keep your image positive and appealing.

Others in healthcare have had success publishing authority articles through platforms like LinkedIn. These sorts of articles establish your credibility and skill in your field and make people feel more comfortable trusting you with their health.

4. Easy to understand visual content.

Many individuals find that they have an easier time grasping health concepts that are learned through images and videos as well as text. By including diagrams, images and videos as part of your online marketing, you can empower patients with knowledge about their health and build a stronger and more comfortable relationship. You can even do live Q&A sessions using services like Facebook’s live streaming. This can help potential patients with some of their health questions and showcase your authority and expertise in your area of practice.

5. Practical content like checklists.

Content like printable checklists can make it easier for patients to do the right things for their health. For instance, a sheet on ways to protect yourself from the common cold can be a popular offering when it’s time for kids to head back to school. A summer break checklist can help your patients pack the right things in their travel first aid kit and keep themselves safe from sunburns and heat stroke.

Posting frequently and serving up a wide variety of medical marketing content can make your presence online helpful and informative to both current and prospective patients. By focusing on what materials will be most useful to them, you can begin building the trust that leads to strong relationships before they ever make their first appointment with your practice.

About the Author

Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal Web Solutions, an award winning healthcare marketing agency based in Atlanta, GA. His innovative approach to digital marketing has transformed the industry and delivered remarkable results to clients of all sizes and markets. Membrillo has extensive experience with healthcare and physician marketing.  Cardinal has been 3-time consecutively named on Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held US companies. Visit to find out more about Cardinal Web Solutions.  Follow him on Twitter @Alex_Membrillo


Posted in Infographics, Marketing

21 Rules For Social Media Marketing In Healthcare

I am normally not a big fan of the word “rules” when it comes to social media, but if you want to be successful on social media and achieve results, you need to follow some basic guidelines. So, whether you call them rules, tips or guides, this infographic has some solid advice for those of you who wish to make social media part of your healthcare marketing.


Posted in Ethics, Marketing

Ethics in Social Media Marketing: Responding to the Boston Tragedy


Augie Ray reminds us: “Before you click “submit” to your next social media post, do not simply ask if it will achieve its goal, fits best practices and suits the brand. Ask yourself if it is honest, transparent and ethical. That is a much higher standard, but higher standards are what consumers want and what brands increasingly wish to deliver, aren’t they?”

See on

Posted in #HCSM, Marketing

Will Google Kill Off Alerts?

hes dead jim macroThere has been no official announcement yet, but the signs are ominous. Following last month’s decision to kill off Google Reader, it seems Google Alert’s days may also be numbered.

Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, blogs) based on your choice of query –  for example, keeping updated on emerging healthcare trends. You can control how often you receive these alerts (daily or weekly), whether you wish to receive all mentions, or limit it to the most relevant, and you can add new alerts, or delete old ones at any point.

I have certainly noticed less frequent Google Alerts emails in my inbox over the past few months and while this has bothered me less now that I keep up with healthcare industry news via content curation sites such as , it is nevertheless a loss when it comes to using the service as a free brand or term monitoring tool.

So what are the alternatives to Google Reader?

Whilst Feedly proved a good alternative to Google Reader,  no strong viable alternatives to Google Alerts at the same price (i.e. free) have emerged so far as contenders.  For now, I  have decided to trial Social Mention which tracks blogs, blog comments, Twitter, mainstream news, images, video, and audio.  The service promises free daily email alerts of your brand, company or marketing campaign.  Unfortunately when I signed up for an alert with Social Mention today this is the message I received:

social mention

So I will have to wait a while longer to see how it performs as a daily alert service. In the meantime, I will continue to use Twitter hashtags, Twitter search, and newsle.

Do you currently use Google Alerts? Will you miss the service if it is retired by Google? Or have you found a viable alternative which you would recommend?

Posted in Hospital Marketing, Marketing, PR

Always have a crisis plan in place first is key to managing a social media crisis when it occurs

Marketing Your Hospital

Healthcare Marketers Can Learn Valuable Lessons from the Penn State Scandal.

Every organization fears it. A crisis of public confidence and perception.   Hopefully as a healthcare marketer, you won’t be faced with a major one.  But most likely, sometime in your career you will.  Maybe more than once.  And during a crisis is no time to be learning on the fly.  It’s much better to first learn from others and then you will be prepared if and when your crisis comes.

Anne Hancock Toomey and Joe Tye wrote an article for Hospital and Health Networks titled “Cardinal Rules for Crisis Response” and examined how Penn State handled their recent crisis.  Though I’m hesitant to criticize how anyone handles a crisis, because it’s so much easier to do so from a rear view mirror than in the middle of the crisis.  Afterwards you can examine results and reactions, which are not…

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Posted in Marketing

Using Social Media to Market and Brand Your Medical Practice

As the Internet has become the medium of choice for researching health information, social media has become an important part of how your medical practice gets found online.  In today’s social media-connected, content marketing rich environment, doctors who are not using social media as part of their marketing strategy are missing out.  This article will give you an overview of why and how you should brand and market your practice online, along with examples of those physicians who are leading the way with social media marketing.

But first, what exactly does “branding” mean?

Branding aims to establish a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers. (Business

There are many elements which make your brand more readily identifiable, ranging from tangibles like your logo, tagline and promotional materials to the more intangible – how telephone calls are answered in your practice and how you are perceived by your patients. Doctors position themselves in the healthcare market by speciality, but also by the quality of their work, their reputation, and as an acknowledged expert on specific medical conditions.

Identify and define your brand

Properly identifying your brand means you will be able to define your offering and market your communications more effectively to your patient (and prospective patient) base. Ask yourself the following questions to help you define your brand more clearly.

  • What can patients find with you that they won’t find with another doctor?
  • What are your strengths when it comes to patient care?
  • What aspect of medicine do you most enjoy?
  • Do you have knowledge of a hobby or special interest which patients would benefit from your expertise on?

Promote your brand with social media

Health topics are one of the most searched terms on the internet and it’s becoming increasingly important for doctors to get involved in the online discussion. Engagement with social media networking sites provides you with a unique opportunity to position and market your brand, add value, and differentiate your practice from your competitors. It also helps attract new patients, build existing patient loyalty and opens up new opportunities outside of your practice.

Social media gives you the tools to find where your patients are meeting online, build relationships with them, and establish yourself as an expert in your field. Many of your existing patients are already online, and regular communication with them will help cement your relationship. Remember that unlike traditional forms of advertising, social media marketing is about talking with, not to your audience; it is about adding value to the conversation. Healthcare organizations whose strategy is to simply post information (for instance on a static web page) are missing out on the true essence of social media, i.e. two-way communication.

Opportunities to brand your medical practice are plentiful online. There is support and community groups for just about any medical condition or interest. To further expand their reach and focus on patient care, these groups need the input of qualified clinicians to help validate the information discussed on their sites and to ensure balanced views that are in the best interest of patients. Participating in these communities by providing advice, educational podcasts, guest contributions to widely read blogs and websites can help you broadcast your brand and build your reputation, while providing valuable support to the group.

Establishing and maintaining an online presence will keep your brand to the fore of people’s minds – not just your patients, but your peers. It is a great way to build positive exposure and credibility for your brand and to create what marketers refer to as “top-of-mind awareness.” Adding more touchpoints with your patients and prospective patients through social media helps create this top of mind awareness.

Maintaining brand integrity and monitoring your online reputation

Consistency, credibility, and connection are the cornerstones of maintaining your healthcare brand’s integrity. Once you have a clear vision of what your brand is about, the key to establishing and maintaining it is being consistent and credible across all on and off line platforms you connect on. It is also important to listen to what is being said about your brand, not just to know what is going on and whether you are receiving any negative publicity or comments that need to be addressed, but also to know what you are doing right, so that you can do more of it. At a minimum keep an eye on tweets, comments and messages on your Twitter, blog and Facebook accounts. You should also set up google alerts for your name, your practice and your partners.

Physicians leading the way online

There are many examples of physicians with successful online brands.  One of the best known is Kevin Pho, MD, an internist from Nashua, N.H., who started his KevinMD blog in 2004. Eight years later KevinMD is one of the most popular medical blogs online and has gained Dr Pho national and international attention as an opinion maker. He is frequently asked to contribute to print and TV discussions and is a regular speaker at conferences around the world.

Howard Luks, MD, an orthopedic surgeon in Hawthorne, N.Y., who consults on digital media and medicine issues, champions healthcare social media and is unequivocal in his assertion that “to ignore the intersection between healthcare and social media is to potentially ignore our own relevance as a health care practitioner”.

Deanna Attai, MD, has focused her career exclusively on the care of patients with benign and malignant breast conditions. She provides advice to breast cancer communities on blogs, Twitter and Facebook platforms and is one of the founders of #BCSM (Breast Cancer Social Media), a regular online gathering on Twitter. Through her effective use of social media, Dr Attai has humanised her practice and become a credible and trustworthy source of advice and support to the breast cancer community, which has a very active and vocal presence online.

There’s no question that social media is growing in importance in the healthcare field and it is no longer an optional marketing strategy. Access to health information online is empowering patients and forcing medicine to become part of a more consumer driven market. For doctors to distinguish themselves from each other, they must respond to a digital society which now demands transparency and engagement. Joining in the online health conversation gives your patients a sense of belonging and emotional connection; it positions you as an expert in your field, helps you stand out from your peers, and inspires your staff. Word of mouth is the most valuable form of referral you can get and social media can harness this power and spread its reach in a way that traditional advertising cannot.

Finally, don’t think because you don’t appear online doesn’t mean you aren’t being talked about. With the advent of patient review sites, and online discussion forums, you risk leaving your brand reputation in the hands of others. The conversation is happening online with or without you, so for the sake of your healthcare brand, join it!

This article originally published on Health Works Collective