Improve The Patient Experience
Improving your patient experience is one of the key aspects of marketing your emergency room facility. Increasing patient volume won’t help much if patients receive a poor experience and never want to return. While returning to the emergency room isn’t anyone’s top priority, statistics show that one in five adults visit an emergency room annually. In addition, those with chronic illnesses tend to be repeat visitors and are ultimately important patients to your business.
Therefore, think about how you can improve the patient experience to improve patient retention.
One of the top complaints emergency rooms recieve is long wait times.
There are a few ways you can tackle this issue. First, you can hire more triage nurses or more advanced practice clinicians. This is what WellStar West Georgia Medical Center did, and it helped them reduce wait times, improve satisfaction, and decreased their left without being seen score by over 50%.
Another option is to use telehealth to screen patients before ever coming to the emergency room. Studies show that it may take some time to adjust to the new telethelath solutions, though once the medical staff is comfortable with it, it is just as efficient as in-person screening.
In addition, there are a number of ways that you can digitize ER processes to reduce patient wait time. For example, you might digitize intake forms, insurance verification, and even allow patients to request first aid (such as ice packs) online from their seats in the waiting room.
Ultimately, the most important thing you can do to improve your patient experience is to survey them and ask them about their top concerns.
Communicate Wait Times
Once you’ve improved the patient experience and decreased patient wait times, one of the best ways to market your business is simply showing off your amazing experience.
Ultimately, most patients chose the emergency room they will attend based on the wait times as they want to be treated as quickly as possible.
Therefore, have live updates on your website showing patient wait times. For example, MedStar has their current wait times listed on their check-in portal:
Here’s another example of how LewisGale communicates its wait times online:
Another option is to create an SMS sequence that sends patients an automated message with current ER wait times.
You can set up automated sequences with an SMS tool like TextMagic.
Provide Content On What You Treat
Once you have a great patient experience and the capacity to scale, the next step is to maximize patient volume. The first step is to ensure you have thorough content on your hospital’s area of expertise.
Ultimately, you want to have content for all of the services you provide, but some of them might need more than others.
For example, while you may be able to treat virtually any kind of illness, you might specialize in burns. Therefore, creating extensive content around burn treatment will increase the number of patients you receive with burns. In fact, studies show that a patient’s health-related Google searches typically spike the week before they finally visit an emergency room.
Therefore, having content related to their symptoms gives them an introduction to your brand and keeps you top of mind when they finally do decide to visit an emergency room.
In addition, you should also examine the services you provide that generate the most profit (not just revenue). For example, if you notice that you generate a lot of profit from lacerations, create more content on lacerations. This way, patient volume will remain constant, eliminating the need to hire more staff, yet the profit per patient will increase.
Improve Your Paid Ads
You’re probably already running paid ads either on Facebook, Google, or another source. However, there are probably a few advanced tactics for emergency room marketing that you’re missing out on and might be costing your campaign money.
If you have multiple locations, using center-level budgets in Google Adwords is a great way to enable each particular location to have its own PPC campaign. Therefore, if some locations have a lower CPC than others, you can invest more in those locations. Similarly, if you have one location at maximum capacity, you can scale back their ads.
Improve Your Ad Structure
If your ads look like this, you’re missing out on a lot of real estate:
Instead, be sure to add call, sitelink, and location extensions as well as dynamic structure snippets.
Here’s a great example:
You can learn how to set up extensions here.
Revisit Your Keywords
While a symptom-related keyword like “Facial Burn Treatment” is relevant, it likely also has a higher cost per click (CPC). In addition, these kinds of keywords typically have lower conversion rates than more direct keywords.
Therefore, you may want to focus your efforts on keywords like “emergency room” and “immediate care.”
The key to testing a keyword’s quality is to track its conversion rate rather than clicks. Turn off ads for keywords that drive a lot of traffic but few conversions.
In general, patients chose to attend the emergency room closest to them. While you can’t pick up your emergency room and move it closer to each patient, you can increase your advertising spend to people closest to you.
This is called geofencing. For example, you can increase your ad spend on people within a mile or two from you and decrease it on people five miles away or more.
Facebook Location Targeting
While all of the above examples are about Google Adwords, Facebook is also an incredibly powerful tool for emergency care providers.
Similar to geofencing, location targeting allows you to target Facebook users that live within your area, and you can even filter them by interests (such as an expecting mother).
Here’s a guide to getting started with location targeting on Facebook.
Optimize Your Emergency Room Marketing For SEO
Given that health-related searches dramatically increase the week before a patient visits an emergency room, it’s essential to have your website optimized for SEO.
We can break down SEO into four main categories for emergency care providers:
- Technical Foundation
- Link Building
- Local SEO
First, Google has to be able to crawl and index your website to show it in the search results. Therefore, be sure to check your index status in Google Search Console and check for any major errors in the “Coverage” report.
If you have any errors, you can hire a developer on Upwork to fix them. Once you know that you don’t have any major errors or penalties, go through this checklist:
- Is my website mobile-friendly?
- Can I access every page in less than four clicks? (ideally three or less)
- Does each page have a title and meta description optimized for conversions?
- Is my website secure with HTTPS (rather than HTTP)
- Does my website have broken links? (Check Ahref’s broken links report)
- Does my website load quickly? (Check pagespeed insights or Google Search Console)
Once you know that you have a solid technical foundation, create content that will attract the right visitors to your website.
Start by updating your current pages that are designed to rank for keywords. For example, take your services pages (such as emergency burn treatment) and enter the URL into Ahrefs.
See where you rank for various keywords, and then compare your page with the top-performing pages. To outrank them, look at the topics those pages cover that your page does not. From there, simply include sections covering each of those topics and make your content better than their content.
Once you’ve updated your core keyword-focused pages, then you can start creating blog posts for content related to your service pages. For example, now that you have a services page for burns, you might create several blog posts detailing key FAQs about burns.
For example, you might have the following blog posts:
How Do I Know if My Burn is First or Second Degree?
What Are Common Long Term Complications of Second Degree Burns?
The key to writing content that generates visitors is to source key questions from your patients. Therefore, consider interviewing your doctors and asking them what key questions typically arise in the emergency room.
After you begin publishing quality content, you might notice that it doesn’t just automatically start ranking (even if it’s higher quality than the websites that currently rank for those keywords). This is because Google prefers to rank trusted brands.
So how does Google decide whether or not you’re a trusted brand?
They look to see if any other trusted brands are linking to your website. For example, if Harvard has a link to your website, Google assumes that you’re also a trusted and reputable brand.
Therefore, you want to generate as many links from trusted brands within healthcare as possible. However, note that you should only earn links from trusted websites.
If you only build links from spammy or irrelevant websites, it won’t help you and can actually damage your website as you’re clearly associating yourself with other spam.
Another key to emergency room marketing is to build links locally. For example, if you are located in Washington DC, building links from other websites clearly based in Washington DC will show Google that you’re also associated with that community.
Finally, speaking of earning links within the community, you’ll also want to ensure that your local SEO is polished. Local SEO is essentially what allows you to show up in the map results like this one:
To get started, simply sign up for Google My Business and fill out the requested information. They will send you a card to your physical address (to verify that you do have a physical address), and you will then be able to fill out a local business account.
Then you can fill out your name, address, phone number, and pictures. Once you finish this process, you should have an information card like this when you Google your business (though it may take several weeks or months for this to appear):
Once you’ve filled this out, the last step is to create local citations. An example of a local citation is a Yelp listing. You can find a list of relevant citations with a tool like BrightLocal.
Reviews are essential to any business, and especially to healthcare facilities. People want to feel that they are being taken care of by an expert.
Unfortunately, emergency rooms are notorious for having negative reviews. However, if you’ve done your homework and followed the first step (improving the patient experience), you should have fairly satisfied patients.
Therefore, ask them to leave a review. You can make it easy for them by providing clear instructions on your website and on a physical card in the office with a link to your Facebook page and Google.
Here’s a great example:
Consider asking doctors and physicians to mention it to the patient personally as they will likely have a closer relationship with the patient than someone who works in the office.
Improve Partnerships with Local PCPs
One of the easiest ways to dramatically increase patient volume is by forging partnerships with other physicians in your area.
Currently, 92% of providers agree that they could improve their referral networks.
In addition, about 43% of referral networks consist of providers the referring physician doesn’t know very well, and about 17% of those referrals are to providers the physician has never met.
Therefore, there’s plenty of room for improvement.
Your first step to building a referral network is to consider what you want in a referral partner. For example, in addition to primary care providers, what kind of specialists do your patients usually come from?
Once you have an idea, send an email to each of those physicians asking for an in-person (or Zoom) meeting. When sending the email, be sure to send it directly to the physician rather than the front office. You can use a tool like Hunter.io to find the correct email address.
Once you have a list of people willing to meet, prepare a financial agreement to present. The financial agreement is typically a commission of the total revenue generated from the patient or a fixed daily rate for every day the patient is in your care. As emergency room visits vary dramatically, a commission is typically the most widely accepted form of payment.
Even after you’ve made an agreement, be sure to continue following up with your partners. Over time, they will probably be presented with other offers, so solidifying your relationship with them is essential.
As emergency rooms are essentially local businesses, one of the best marketing strategies is to increase community involvement. This builds goodwill and is an excellent opportunity to create brand awareness.
Therefore, make a list of community events in your area. For example, it could be a charity run, a school event, or a health and fitness event. Consider becoming a sponsor, or even send a representative as a speaker (if the event has speakers).
In addition to giving back to the community and brand awareness, you’ll also likely receive a backlink from the website. If not, be sure to ask for one.
Conversion Rate Optimization
Marketing your emergency room facility isn’t just about earning more traffic. It’s about converting visitors you already earned into customers.
Without a strong conversion rate optimization plan, all of your traffic generation efforts, from PPC to SEO, will go to waste.
However, CRO isn’t about convincing people that don’t need medical attention to come to your emergency room.
Instead, it’s about creating a better experience so that they choose your emergency services over a different emergency center. So how can you do that?
First, make sure that it’s very easy for prospective patients to find necessary information, including:
- Key Services (burns, trauma, etc.)
- Accepted Insurance Providers
- Wait Times
For example, notice that it’s very easy to find everything in the menu for this emergency room?
In addition, you may consider installing heatmaps from CrazyEgg or Hotjar to discover where people scroll and when they bounce from your website.
Speaking of bounce rates, Google Analytics can also show you which pages have poor conversion rates, session duration, and bounce rates.
The Behavior Flow in Google Analytics is also particularly useful as you can see which pages or blog posts typically generate visitors that ultimately land on conversion related pages
Adding a chatbot for support and asking patients if they found what they were looking for is also a great way to lift conversions.
In an emergency, most people aren’t going to send you an email to ask about your services. Therefore, it’s essential to have call tracking and recording.
Call recording will enable your marketing team to listen back to the calls to understand key questions people can’t find on the website, what services are most popular, and what percentage of callers are actually qualified.
CallRail is a great software for this as it enables you to listen back to each call and provides analytics.
In addition, you can also use their call tracking system to discover which marketing efforts are most profitable.
Call tracking essentially enables you to have a different phone number for each marketing channel to see which ones perform best. Even with Google alone, you can have different phone numbers for your ads and organic phone numbers.
What to Look For in an Emergency Room Marketing Partner
The emergency room marketing partner you choose will have a huge impact on the success of your marketing efforts. So how do you choose the best partner?
Here are some key qualities to consider when hiring a partner:
Do they specialize in the healthcare industry?
While any quality marketing agency will be able to bring you results, only an agency that specizes in healthcare will understand the unique nuances of marketing an emergency room and how the industry works as a whole.
For example, an agency experienced with healthcare marketing will understand that increasing patient volume to an emergency room is more about improving the website usability for someone panicked in an emergency rather than writing perfect sales copy to convince someone to come to your clinic.
Do they have case studies?
Plenty of agencies claim to have experience in healthcare, but can they show you any of their results? For example, do they just show you work they’ve done, or can they present concrete results such as month over month traffic increase, calls, etc.?
Are they a full-service agency?
Hiring an agency specializing in SEO or PPC won’t give you the same results as a full-service agency. This is because a full-service agency can see the larger picture and understands that all marketing strategies (CRO, SEO, PPC, etc.) for your emergency room have to work together to produce a great patient experience.
In addition, your needs may change over time. For example, you may do a lot of PPC in the beginning as you’re building your brand, but over time, you may decide to scale back the PPC and increase SEO spend.
With a full-service agency, it’s easy to reallocate that budget.
Whether your goal is to increase patient volume, improve retention, or build your brand’s image, these steps will put you on the path to success.
If you’re not sure where to start, re-evaluate the marketing strategies you currently have for your emergency room. Update them using the tips in this post and then consider adding one or two additional strategies.
If you need more help improving your marketing strategy, contact one of our specialists. We would be happy to jump on a call and help you develop a growth strategy.