Implementing the 3 Pillars of Healthcare Marketing Success Plan – A Guide for Doctors

The 3 pillars of healthcare marketing success is a marketing plan designed to help you acquire more patients from the internet on an ongoing basis. Apart from this main goal, other objectives that the “3 pillars” marketing plan strives to fulfill are improved patient service recovery and improved overall performance of your practice. The 3 Pillars of Healthcare Marketing Success are:

  • Pillar 1: A Satisfied and Loyal Patient Base
  • Pillar 2: A Stellar Online Reputation
  • Pillar 3: A Robust Internet Presence

The healthcare marketing professionals at GMR Web Team developed this “3 pillars” marketing plan using their experience gained from long-term collaborations with many small and medium healthcare practices, and hundreds of healthcare providers. The best part is, this plan offers the flexibility of options which means that depending on your practice's unique requirements, you can choose which pillar you should start building first.

More on the 'Flexibility of Options'

Each practice requires a personalized 'marketing care plan' based on where you already stand and where you aim to be. The “3 pillars” plan consists of a thorough marketing audit that you can conduct on your site and web presence to decide the best strategy for your practice. This helps in deciding where to start the process from. Here are two common cases with healthcare practices, and the path to building your 3 pillars marketing strategy:

  • If your site is decent (i.e. modern, optimized for search engines, and mobile-optimized), but your reputation on review profiles is negative, then the proposed way is start with the 1st and the 2nd pillars (improving patient satisfaction and building online reputation), then use them as a base to build a robust online presence for your practice (the 3rd pillar).
  • Suppose your website has issues and isn't converting, in spite of having a positive reputation on review sites. In that case, the focus will be more on developing the 3rd pillar (repairing your site, and improving your online presence), while continually taking care of any improvements needed with the 1st and the 2nd pillars (both should always be monitored and controlled).

However, in general cases, where everything needs to be built or relatively managed from scratch (if no process is in place for either of the 3 pillars), the “3 pillars” strategy proceeds with the original order: building a satisfied and loyal patient base, developing a strong online reputation, then using the two as a base to build a robust online presence for your practice that promotes high patient acquisition. Going further, we'll talk about the healthcare marketing implementation strategy as whole, by focusing on each of the 3 pillars individually.

How to Implement the “3 Pillars of Healthcare Marketing Success” Plan

1st Pillar – Growing a Satisfied and Loyal Patient Base

A sound base of happy and satisfied patients is important for the growth of your practice. That's why the “3 pillars of healthcare marketing success” strategy starts with a process to monitor and improve the patient experience. Also, as patient satisfaction decides your practice's success in national surveys, it's self-explanatory why your healthcare digital marketing strategy must focus on improving your patients' experience. Here's how the "3 pillars" marketing plan helps you improve your patients’ experience and satisfaction:

  • Quick internal survey: Internal surveys are a great way to understand your patients' opinions about you. That's why, under the “3 pillars” program, a survey system at your facility should be implemented that lets you survey your patients immediately as they leave your office. Simply ask for their rating (0-10 or 0-5) and let them write their comments on their experience.
  • Redressal opportunity: Getting the opportunity to let their voices be heard and addressed immediately is generally the best experience any patient could have. The survey system should work on the same principle, meaning you should use the survey as an opportunity to recover even your most unhappy patients.
  • Sentiment analysis: A positive experience is important to all patients, and how they feel about your care really relates to how likely they are to stay with your practice or even recommend you to friends and family. The same internal survey tool that you use to collect patient feedback should also conduct a sentiment analysis check of those feedback to provide a deep insight into your patients' feelings and emotions. Sentiment analysis tools are available online in some aspects, but you’ll likely need to invest in a reputation management tool.
  • Benchmark reports: For further improvement in patient experience, you are provided with regular insight into industry research with patient satisfaction benchmark reports, released from time-to-time. This enables you to understand the bigger picture and determine if you need to improve.

Being unable to understand your patients' opinions, their feelings and emotions is a major hurdle in improving their experience. Once you overcome this hurdle, you can use your improved awareness in tackling the underlying issues very efficiently and effectively. Don’t forget about the benefits of an improved patient satisfaction; that's enormous for everyone – patients, staff, your practice, and for you.

2nd Pillar – Influencing with a Strong Online Reputation

Having a stellar online reputation is crucial to the success of your healthcare practice. That's why after improving your reputation among your patients, the “3 pillars” strategy works on conveying the same to all other patients in your locality. That too in your patients' own words, through online reviews and testimonials. Apart from reviews, there are many other important factors that contribute to a positive online reputation. However, technically they fall into the online presence topic that we will discuss under the third pillar. Let's see how the “3 pillars” marketing plan helps in elevating your online reputation (on review sites) to influence your prospective patients' decision making:

  • Facilitating review writing: Encouraging and facilitating your patients to write reviews is an important part of the reputation development program. Online reputation management (ORM) tools make the review writing process easy for your patients.

    As more positive reviews start to flow in, any pre-existing negative reputation caused by the often more vocal unhappy patients tends to be overshadowed. Related blog: A Study on Why Asking Patients to Write Reviews Is Actually Essential

  • Integrating review sites: ORM tools and software also integrate most of the important review sites such as Google, Facebook, HealthGrades, Vitals, RateMDs, etc., in order to spread your reputation’s reach on the web. This allows your patients to not only submit their reviews and ratings, but also post them directly to their favorite online review sites in just a few clicks.

    Without an ORM tool, you can still monitor your reviews manually and direct patients that wrote positive feedback to review sites to post reviews publicly.
  • Intercepting negative reviews: As an important part of the reputation development program, you also get to intercept the negative reviews from your unhappy patients before they get posted online. Again, this is through the survey you have implemented, as you should reach out to unhappy patients immediately after they complete the survey.

    Intercepting negative reviews allows the opportunity to connect with your unhappy patients, listen to their concerns, and act immediately to solve them. This way, you don't just stop the negative review from being published, but also recover your unhappy patient.

To know more about the implementation strategy, read step-by-step guide to improve the online reputation for your healthcare practice.

3rd Pillar – Dominating with a Robust Internet Presence

Unlike the first two pillars, building the third pillar involves more technical digital marketing knowledge, like website development, search engine optimization, social media and content marketing, paid advertising, and much more. To dominate on the web, your brand will require all-round visibility on different important web platforms such as search engines, social media, review sites, etc. This is the kind of visibility that influences your prospective patients to choose your practice. The most important components of a robust online presence that the '3 pillars” marketing plan focuses on achieving are:

To learn more about these and other important credibility factors that make your online presence robust, read the blog “the Importance of a Robust Online Presence for Healthcare Practices”. That's all for the “3 pillars of healthcare marketing success” blog series. It was a joyful ride and a great experience sharing knowledge about this unique healthcare marketing success formula. Hope the series enriched your insight in the most intrinsic aspects of healthcare marketing. If you've missed any of the previous blogs in this “3 pillars...” series, just click on the various hyperlinks provided in this blog. They all lead to separate previous “3 pillars” blogs. Or, simply click here. Thanks!


Ajay Prasad

Ajay Prasad is the Founder and President of GMR Web Team, a leading healthcare digital marketing agency. He guides small and medium size healthcare practices/businesses in customizing their online marketing strategy, focused on building a loyal base of patients and improving their patient acquisition. Ajay believes in an improved patient experience as the key to successful healthcare business, which can be accomplished with the right marketing plan in place.

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