Mobile apps, Internet consulting, social media, emails and custom websites have brought a paradigm shift in the healthcare services. Patients seek nothing less than the best – in terms of healthcare services or digital experiences. Demand creation transforms the economics of all businesses and has revamped the healthcare industry, as well. Digital channels have broadened the healthcare horizon and opened up new opportunities for physicians and patients. Physicians, dentists, and hospitals are increasingly adapting to this seismic shift and are now moving away from relying on the traditional mode of marketing, i.e. word-of-mouth referrals, to carefully strategized digital marketing strategies. Patient experiences form the epicenter of healthcare and now a better patient experience definitely starts with a better online experience. Patients now extensively refer to social media and other digital platforms to manage health and make their health decisions after thorough analysis. Healthy online relationships with patients can drive up appointments and referrals, increasing profits for your practice. Hospitals and physicians need to think like marketers to better understand and participate in digital conversations as these can directly impact their online brand perception and reputation. Here’s how you can create better digital patient experiences: Educate your patients by sharing informative articles and preventive healthcare tips A key component of digital healthcare marketing is to create impactful physician-patient communications that inform, influence and motivate patients to make better health decisions to improve their quality of life. Patients are digitally empowered and information-hungry, constantly looking out to learn new things and gathering essential information to make informed health decisions. Regularly post articles, messages, tips and blogs to educate your patients and schedule them to be posted on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or in emails. This helps in establishing a sense of trust and credibility about your practice among all patients and other readers who can be potential patients in future. You can be in touch with your patients even if they aren’t visiting you. This helps build loyalty along with a positive reputation, and these can be the determining factors for growth of your practice. Communicate frequently The best way for healthcare providers to embrace this approach is through focusing their efforts on fulfilling patient needs, wants and desires by listening, responding, providing and adapting. But how often do you reach out to your patients? Successful enterprises and businesses don’t just communicate with prospects and their existing customers on special days. It’s very important to communicate frequently with your patients and know what they think and feel about your practice. By encouraging open communication, you can build positive relationships with your patients, which in turn will help you understand what they feel about the services offered at your practice. It’s possible to combine email, face to face, social media, physician-review websites and phones for connecting and communicating with your patients. Carefully analyzing and proactively tracking what services patients look for regarding their health needs can provide an insight into their minds. To innovate and evolve with the changing mindset of patients and an effective communication strategy is indispensable in today’s competitive world and is a vital key to maintaining a strong brand image. Engagement matters Spruce up your social networks by creating accounts on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest. These have become a must for establishing an online visibility and are valuable tools for creating and strengthening patient relationships. To enhance your brand exposure and visibility, you need to actively engage with your audience by replying to their questions, sharing informative posts, posting videos about various important health issues and so on. The more you engage with patients/potential patients, the more they will like your practice brand as it gives them a sense of trust and credibility. An engaged and satisfied set of patients are more likely to become loyal and ultimately brand advocates for your practice. Interact, interact and interact The expectations patients have from physicians today have never been higher. For physicians/hospitals, it’s next to impossible to deliver 100% patient satisfaction. No matter how competent you are and how well-equipped your staff is, there will always be some unhappy patients. These days, the most common way of outburst is writing reviews on physician-review websites or taking up these issues on social media. With digitalization of healthcare, these situations are inevitable. What matters the most is how healthcare providers, physicians, and hospitals deal with patients on the Internet. The correct approach is to carefully analyze patient grievances, complaints and feedback and use them as tools to further enhance the services at your hospital/practice. Furthermore, there should be proactive communication with patients who post their reviews/comments on the Internet. This gives them an assurance that their issues are being heard. Try to make all efforts to reassure that their complaints will be resolved and the best healthcare services will be given to patients at your hospital/practice. Create and tailor content you post on social media Content is king in social media, but only if the audience finds it relevant. You can make content more suitable for your patients by adding a “value addition” to it. Content should be interesting, relevant and engaging – just as desired by the audience you wish to target through social media marketing. The knack is to understand what they want and how they want it delivered. Content can be tailored in the form of infographics, images, and videos to make it more engrossing. Post more educational content Online marketing experts suggest posting educational and informative material on social media as it holds the promise for improving patient engagement and empowers them to make better health decisions. Physicians should leverage social media to educate patients. Patients can benefit from the use of social media through education, obtaining information, networking, performing research, receiving support, goal-setting and tracking personal progress. You can frequently post information to promote health behaviors, motivate people to achieve their health goals and increase awareness about general health conditions and disease prevention. Providing scientifically accurate and quality health information on various social media channels will help increase your online visibility and can help create a sense of trust and reliability about your practice among all patients and other readers who could be potential patients in future. You can extend the reach and coverage of your brand and be in touch with your patients even if they aren’t visiting you. This helps build loyalty along with a positive reputation, and these can be the determining factors for growth of your practice. While the world is connected through the Internet today, it’s quite hard to understate the importance of online patient experiences. If you have been channeling your efforts into online marketing, don’t just get stuck with the usual strategies to build positive patient relationships. Experiment with new techniques and you never know – they may prove to be potentially more effective than the traditional ones.