How to Help Patients Find (and Choose) Your Healthcare Organization
Learn how to ensure your healthcare organization has a strong digital presence across channels so patients can find you — and choose you.
When patients search for healthcare, you want your organization to be front and center in their online journey. When they're ready to book an appointment, patients turn to a variety of channels to find care, like your listings, website pages, and reviews. It's important that your healthcare organization has a strong presence on all of these channels. But managing so many can be challenging; it requires time, strategy, and the right technology.
So how do you optimize these channels so that patients can find you — and convert?
1. Understand the role of both owned and non-owned channels in the patient journey
You can't be certain of how patients will find your organization, as each patient journey is as unique as the patient themselves. That's why it's important that you manage as many channels as you can, as well as you can.
Data indicates that patients are likely to start their journey with a question. Yext found that 70% of people seeking healthcare start on a search engine. Once they've made their initial search, here's what they'll find:
- Your listings: Listings are hosted by third-party publishers. For example, Google (a publisher) hosts your Google Business Profile (a listing). Listings show information about your organization – like your location, hours of operation, provider specialties, insurance(s) accepted, and even your reviews from past patients – without having to visit your website.
- Your website's pages: Patients might see certain webpages on the search engine results page (SERP). They can also navigate to your website from your listings by clicking the 'visit website' button.
- Your reviews: Whether they begin their journey on your listings or on your website, patients use reviews to make a decision on whether your practice is the right fit for their needs. And the quantity of patient reviews is rapidly increasing: Yext found that the healthcare industry experienced an almost 200% increase in total reviews left per location from 2019 to 2022.
Third-party search helps patients seek and evaluate different healthcare options. Patients can research a variety of options and find all the information they need to make a decision — all before they ever book an appointment. Third-party search is a channel patients turn to early stages of their journey, and their intent to convert is high. When your organization's listings, landing pages, and reviews are discoverable in third-party search, you're meeting patients where they are with the information they need.
To show up early (and competitively) in the patient journey, you'll need to align your non-owned channels and your owned channels so they show the information patients want to see at those moments of high intent.
Listings, website pages, and reviews: each of these channels increase your discoverability. But they also encourage viewers to take the next step in their journey, too. By recognizing the role these channels play in the patient journey (and managing each one), you create a seamless transition for patients as they progress from "looking for care" to "making an appointment."
In doing so, you also create a great patient experience. Consistency across your information promotes trust. A robust online presence helps patients make an informed decision about their care. And all this sets your healthcare organization up for success because patients have a great experience before ever stepping foot in your facility.
2. Use Listings to Increase Discoverability (And Give Your Website More Visibility, Too)
Early in the patient's online journey when seeking care, they turn to search engines with high-intent queries, like "provider near me that accepts Aetna insurance." In the SERP, they'll find your listings and/or your website pages.
Yext research shows that, on average, listings receive 2.7x more views than website pages. But here's the thing: better visibility for your listings means more visibility for your website, too. Patients may view your listings first, but your listings also link back to your website.
So it's not a matter of whether to manage your listings or your website — both need to give patients a great experience.
How to optimize your listings for more visibility in search
To be discoverable in search and helpful in the patient journey, your listings need to be complete and accurate. As many as 50% of patients will exit their search when they see inaccurate information. There are lots of publishers out there — Google, Apple, Bing, and Alexa are popular, as well as healthcare-specific directories like WebMD — so you'll need to prioritize which ones you'll manage. Then, include as much information as possible in each listing, such as:
- The name of your organization or individual provider's name
- Your address(es)
- Your phone number(s)
- Your specialty or specialties
- Insurance(s) accepted and whether you're accepting new patients
- A description of your organization or short provider bio
- Facility photo for your location or headshot(s) for your provider(s)
- Booking URL (if you're able to book appointments online)
By completing your listings profiles as much as possible, you bring important links and information upstream in the patient journey. But in order to be helpful, all your listings must have correct, up-to-date information. To encourage the next step in the patient journey, your listings should point back to your website. And remember: more information in your third-party listings leads to better visibility for (and clicks to) your website, too.
Overwhelmed by the amount of publishers to manage? Find a technology partner to help. With Yext Listings, you can sync information across over 200 publishers and listings so your information is accurate and consistent wherever patients seek care. Learn more here.
How to optimize your website pages for more visibility in search
Your website also needs to present all the information the patient needs to make a decision on their care. This helps search engines surface the right results to answer patient questions. Don't treat these webpages like a brochure of information — treat them like a conversion engine. These webpages should be focused on helping patients with how to find a doctor. For visibility in search and to meet the patient's need for answers, create landing pages for:
- Providers: Each provider page has a range of information, such as the provider's name, credentials, specialties, insurances accepted, appointment availability, and booking information.
- Locations: These pages include addresses for each location, including hours of operation and the providers that work there.
- Conditions & Treatments: Content on the types of conditions your providers treat (and how they help treat them) helps patients make a decision on their care.
- Frequently Asked Questions: FAQs help patients find easy answers, like "how to pay my bill" and "how to log in to my EMR."
When patients visit these web pages, they have high intent. Creating web pages like these increases your practice's visibility in search — and makes it easier for patients to access care.
For a faster ROI on your search-optimized landing pages, landing pages for conditions perform well, according to Beacon Health. They optimized their landing pages for conditions they treat, which increased patients' awareness of their healthcare organization early in the patient journey. Each landing page includes information about the condition, as well as providers who treat the condition, their surgical locations, and how a new patient can book an appointment — all on one high-converting page. When patients seeking care turn to search engines, they find everything they need to know about their condition (and they find Beacon Health, too).
Beacon Health used their website to promote patient acquisition strategy. Robust, search engine-optimized landing pages on specific conditions improved their visibility in the SERP and increased online appointments, too. Listen on-demand as they discuss their strategy.
3. Manage Your Reviews to Help Patients Make Healthcare Decisions
Reviews are more important to patients than ever. When doing their research, 94% of healthcare patients will use online reviews to evaluate providers. And there's no shortage of material to read: Yext found that the healthcare industry has seen a nearly 200% increase in patient reviews left per location between 2019 to 2022.
Whether you proactively ask them to or not, your past and current patients leave reviews on your listings. What they have to say affects your online reputation, especially when the reviews are left on highly trafficked channels, like your listings.
Your reviews play an important role in the new patient journey. Patients might turn to search for objective, definitive information, like your hours of operation and location — and when they do, your listings and website should have those answers. But patients also turn to search engines for subjective answers, like "how clean was the facility?" or "how long did it take to be seen by the doctor?" The reviews your previous patients have left can fill that knowledge gap — and help new patients make important decisions regarding their choice of care. That's why it's best to take control of your reviews with an online reputation management strategy.
Step 1: Monitor your reviews
This seems easy at first glance, but there's a catch: reviews live in dozens of different places: on your listings (like Google Business Profile and Apple Business Connect) and on directories (like WebMD). You gain the most insights into what patients are saying about your healthcare organization and its providers by the reviews left on these sites. To save time, consider using technology to consolidate and monitor all your reviews in one place.
When you read every patient review, you gain valuable insights. Of course, there's feedback, which is helpful information as you improve the patient experience. You can also see how a provider compares to their colleagues, or whether patients prefer a certain location to another. You can even spot trends more easily, like whether patient satisfaction is increasing or decreasing over time.
You can centralize all of your review data from across all your channels with Yext Reviews. Aggregating this feedback gives you a holistic view of your online reputation. Learn more here.
Step 2: Respond to your reviews
When you respond to reviews, you show patients – past and present – that you care about their feedback. And it gives you back some control of your online reputation: even if a patient leaves a terrible review, you have the opportunity to respond in a respectful way that represents your healthcare organization well.
Responding to reviews left on your listings also helps increase visibility. This is because search engines reward recent activity over stale activity on a listing. And if you need one more reason, here it is: Yext customers that respond to at least 50% of their reviews are rated .35 stars higher than organizations that don't.
If you only see a handful of reviews come in at a time, you may opt to respond to each one individually. When this is the case, be sure to set up notifications and designate a brand representative to respond to every review.
And if you see an influx of reviews come in steadily each day, you can scale your review response strategy with the right technology partner. Look for features like managed review response to respond on behalf of your organization. And if your team is inundated with reviews, consider using AI to write personalized replies at scale.
Many organizations don't have the headcount and/or the time to respond to every review. In that case, it's best to prioritize the negative reviews and reviews with less than 3 stars. Once you've addressed and responded to these reviews, you can move on to more positive reviews. This step-by-step approach helps organizations get a jump-start on review management.
Step 3: Generate more reviews over time
Search engines reward listings with more activity, like reviews. And good reviews help patients choose your organization when it's time to make a care decision. With this in mind, it's a good idea to generate more reviews, if you can.
Consider inviting patients to leave reviews after their visits. Requesting their feedback gives you a more accurate picture of the overall patient experience. It also helps you rank higher in the SERP, bringing your organization more visibility. And finally, this is a best practice that helps patients make informed decisions about their care.
4. What's Next? Finding the Right Technology Partner
When patients seek care, they often turn to search engines early in their journey. From the search engine results page, they might see your listings (and the reviews on them). Or, they might see certain landing pages and click through directly to your website. Or, they might even see all of the above.
When you manage these channels individually, there's a greater risk of disjointment between them. Then, you risk allowing a patient to make important decisions about their healthcare based on inconsistent or absent information. Your organization needs to make sure that they have a great experience, no matter which channel – or channels – they visit on their journey.
Yext is a platform that empowers healthcare marketers to manage all their owned and non-owned channels together. With Yext, you aren't just managing your listings or your reviews — you're managing the patient journey. You're giving your patients a consistent, cohesive experience during these early, high-intent interactions with your brand. And, as a result, patients are more likely to trust you with their healthcare.
Is Yext the right technology partner for your organization? You owe it to your patients to find out. Watch as Yext and El Camino Health share how strategic tech investments help modernize the patient journey and reduce friction across digital channels.