Elective Surgery Patients Shop Around - Does Your Practice Have the Right Online Strategy? Posted by Mike Sudinsky | 12.11.15 5:20pm

Something interesting happens when patients have to pay for procedures out-of-pocket — they tend to act more like regular consumers. When patients undergo cosmetic surgery, plastic surgery, bariatric surgery, lasik surgery, or other types of elective surgery that are not exactly medical necessities, they usually foot the bill themselves. This means they will likely be especially selective about which providers they choose. What does this mean for medical specialists who provide elective surgery? The competition in your field is particularly fierce.

Just look at how much cosmetic surgery prices have risen over the last couple of decades in comparison to other healthcare prices during the same time period. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, from 1992 through 2012, the price of medical care rose by an average of 118% and the price of physician services rose by an average of 92%. In comparison, the price of cosmetic surgery rose by an average of only 30%, despite the fact that demand went up and this medical field saw a lot of innovation. If that’s not a sign of the purchasing power that elective surgery patients hold, I’m not sure what is!

Why Your Surgical Practice Needs a Strong Online Presence

So as an elective surgery specialist, you may be wondering what you can do to get people’s attention, differentiate your practice, and attracting more patients. Well, one surefire way to give your practice a competitive edge is to create a well-crafted, diversified Internet marketing strategy. According to the results of a Pew Research Center survey released in 2013, 72% of Internet users said they went online to find health information within the previous year. The survey also found that 8 in 10 online health searches start in a search engine, as opposed to specific websites.

That being said, you’ll need to make sure that your surgical practice:

1) Is easy to find in online searches

2) Stands out from your competitors who are also targeting online users

A Few Tips for Targeting Potential Patients Online

There are plenty of online marketing strategies that your practice can use to gain a competitive edge in your local market. Here are just a few of them…

Creating a solid search term strategy: Your search terms are going to be a crucial aspect of your practice’s search engine optimization (SEO). Search terms are words and phrases that online users enter into search engines to find the information they are looking for. You will need to make sure your website and online ads are optimized for the search terms that your target audience is actually using when searching for you online. For example, you will probably need to use search terms that reflect both layman’s terms and medical terms, such as “weight loss surgery” and “bariatric surgery.” (You can use keyword research tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, SEOBook, SEMrush, etc. to find the most popular search term for your practice area.) You will also need to use a combination of root search terms and search terms that include the specific geographic area you are targeting (“Los Angeles weight loss surgery”). You are, after all, trying to target potential patients who are in your local area or region.

Targeting potential patients at various stages of the online research process: When people are considering getting elective surgery, they usually have much more time to research their options. For example, someone who is considering getting lasik surgery may spend months reading about what this type of procedures entails before starting a search for a local bariatric surgeon. As a result, you should produce online content for people at various stages of the process. So in addition to having pages on your websites that talk about your professional qualifications and the procedures you offer, you may want to also include website pages, blog posts, and digital whitepapers that provide more general information about lasik surgery. This might be info such as the general benefits of lasik surgery, information about lasik surgery success rates, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Let online visitors know what makes your practice different: With potential patients getting ready to fork over thousands of dollars for an elective surgery procedure, they want to be sure that they’re going with the best surgeon and the best practice. If they come across your website or PPC ad and don’t immediately see what makes you different, they will undoubtedly move on to the next search result. You have to fight for your online visitors’ attention! Do this by using your website and ad copy to clearly and prominently feature your best selling points. Perhaps you were voted Top Plastic Surgeon of the Year, or maybe you have performed thousands of procedures throughout your career. These are important points to highlight.

This is just a small glimpse of what Internet marketing can do for your surgical practice. If you’d like to learn more, contact Scorpion and speak with our medical marketing specialists!