Money Matters Practice Management Internet business innovations
Internet business innovations
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rss_TN.jpgAn estimated 13 million internet users in Australia are purchasing more than $24 billion annually, with the key motivators being to save time and access a wider range of goods. For businesses, the benefits from engaging consumers via the internet were improved quality of customer service and improved business process.

The internet is increasingly popular with adults (including the "mature"), particularly when it comes to family communication, planning recreation, checking investments, and searching for credible health information.

Health consumers are typically looking for reputable health information and not just a shoulder to cry on.

With this in mind, there are several ways that your medical business can become more customer-focused for internet savvy patients. Better informed, more satisfied customers sue less! And your operations run more smoothly.

Although many medical practices have a web presence, poor design and lack of interaction are common. Yes, people want to know about the doctors, locations and services. But here are some ways to boost your medical practice using proven e-commerce strategies:

  • Offer health care information by disease or condition. Stick to those specific to your area of interest. Even link to reputable sites, as a personal recommendation. Self-assessment tools are good. Offer downloadable fact sheets about relevant problems (easily created by generating a pdf from a Word document and posting on the website).
  • Offer innovative online video education. This novel approach takes more effort but can be adapted for handout to patients in the surgery or even to other doctors. This service suits some medical specialists who are always asked the same questions and where "a picture speaks a thousand words" when it comes to explaining procedures etc. - a great way to present new diagnostic or surgical techniques to colleagues and the public. Health consumers can "attend" pre-recorded virtual seminars from the convenience of their home or office. They can be adapted for CME activities, with online questionnaires. Broadband connection is preferred.
  • Backdoor marketing to interested individuals. These days, Privacy Law stipulates you cannot contact patients for a purpose other than the medical reason for their visit, unless they have first given permission by opting in to your scheme. For example, a practice e-newsletter on the "latest" is good PR and leads to word-of-mouth business. Services and products aligned with your professional interests can bring add-on income.
  • Open a dialogue with selected patients using permission email (or SMS). Colourful, personalised, multi-media permission emails can then be sent to selected people in your database to provide update information such as a new service, change in location or new partner joining. Communicate with patients about timely healthcare information such as new vaccines, travel medicine, screening programs (with a self assessment questionnaire to assess risk). Email communication is low cost and there are programs available to coordinate broadcasts.