As we well know, the internet has become an integral part of our everyday lives, affecting the way we shop, bank, work and communicate. It has also changed the way patients search for health information and healthcare service providers online.
According to the RACGP in 2014 62% of patients seek health services online with patients aged 15–24 most likely to have used the internet to search for health-related info - 91.7% of them in fact, and these figures have been steadily increasing ever since.
Think about it for a moment and put yourself in your patient's shoes. If you are experiencing some unusual symptoms lately, not sure if it’s something to be concerned about or not, where’s the first place you look? For me, it’s my go-to for everything - Google. It’s the same for you right?
Right. So when launching your new Telehealth service you will need to tell the world about it! Taking care that your patients can find you online when they turn to ye ol’ trusty, Dr. Google.
Your website will be the first thing that you will update. You can simply edit your current content or add additional pages to include your new Telehealth services. Of course, you'll be using Coviu as your video consultation software, so you can even add a "book now" button to your site so your patients can book a video consultation whilst they're there.
There are a large number of directories you can use for free to list your services. Whether you bulk-bill, offer private billings, are a 100% telehealth practice or a 'hybrid clinic' - offering both face-to-face and online services.
It’s important to make sure that you specifically mention that you now provide Telehealth services - how else will people know? It’s easy to overlook this when you first launch, what with everything going on, but it’s hugely important for patients all across Australia to find you.
To find you they will search for keywords and phrases like "online psychologist", "virtual therapist", "eTherapy" etc. Even terms like "video consultations" and "Telehealth" may be used, so make sure you spell it out for all to read, search, find and...book!
You will need to write a short and compelling bio that highlights your key skills, interests and training. Use natural language that will resonate with people who are looking for your expertise online. Always write in a friendly and personable tone that sells your service but in a way that people can relate to and understand.
If you have a very niche market try to explain who exactly you help by using a specific/typical use case as an example. e.g “I help new mums overcome postnatal depression” and tell a story where appropriate to demonstrate how you can help.
Top tip: Save this bio as a template in your preferred online notebook such as Evernote or Onenote, so that you can use this to easily copy and paste the information across all of your directory profiles and social media platforms. This will keep your message consistent and ensure that you have all the relevant information needed to be found by your patients/clients.
Be sure to mention that you provide online consultations/ video consultations or Telehealth on your website so that patients know that they can still access your services even if they are not located in your local area.
AHPRA Guidelines for Advertising
It is important to remind you that AHPRA has strict regulations for Healthcare Professionals when it comes to advertising. Understanding the guidelines is your responsibility so as a refresher here's a short 5-minute video explaining what you need to know.
Researching Areas of Need
An area of need (AoN) is a location where there's a demonstrated shortage of qualified medical practitioners. This is really useful information and data that you can use to build out your Telehealth advertising strategy.
By focussing on Areas of Need you can reach out to patients who normally struggle to get to a face-to-face appointment due to their remote location - now as physical locations no longer matter for video consultations, the world (or the entirety of Australia) is your oyster.
Top Tip: When looking at which areas have the biggest need for your services, you can also use the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website - www.aihw.gov.au that provides valuable workforce data. So if you spend a little bit of time researching this, you will come up with a list of the best locations in which to advertise your Telehealth services in.
Last but by no means least, don't forget to use the handy doctorconnect map - www.doctorconnect.gov.au/locator to identify the regional areas that are eligible for Telehealth rebates and covered by MBS Telehealth incentives.
Where to advertise?
There are lots of free directories and websites out there that people will go to look for healthcare services and specialists - because of this many have great SEO, meaning they show up at the top of Google for people searching for your clinical expertise.
These high authority sites are the best sites to use as this also means that in-turn, your services can get close to the top of search results too!
The natural place to start your Telehealth listings is ACRRM
www.ehealth.acrrm.org.au - The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine have their own Telehealth directory containing individual health practitioners and organisations who offer Telehealth consultations.
Your patients won't necessarily find you here, but it's a great place to network and to locate your peers who also have interests in Telehealth. This is a great resource to leverage, and has, so far, has listed over 1228 Telehealth practitioners and specialists.
The ACRRM website is a rich source of information so do check out the full website and details of their Telehealth Initiatives, resources and training here.
Healthshare is a great website to advertise your services, answer questions from the general public on various health topics and you can even publish your own articles to their blog to gain more visibility and showcase your expertise to prospective patients.
TOP TIP: On healthshare (and some of the other sites too) you can add additional practice sites/locations to highlight the locations that you can serve. So say you live in Sydney, but you can serve patients via Telehealth in Tasmania, you can add a location marker for Hobart or Launceston, for example, meaning you will show up in those search results for patients in Tasmania. Little 'hacks' like this will mean that you are visible to people anywhere in Australia and they will be able to book your services.
Healthdirect - Healthdirect is a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and free advice. They have an app available for both iOS and Android and you can also select here that you are "Telehealth capable" so make sure you tick the relevant box to show-up in Telehealth search results.
Yellow Pages - It may seem a little old-fashioned now - but we all still remember that Christmas advert classic with the young boy, keen for his first festive kiss under the mistletoe only to have to go and grab the good old yellow pages to stand on so he could reach her! Bless.
Well, believe it or not, the yellow pages is still widely used to find local health care practitioners, so get it on the list. I ran a quick search and 78 Telehealth providers are already advertising their services, it's free and simple to set up - so absolutely get yourself listed, if you've not done so already!
And finally...to make sure you have covered all bases, my final suggestions for advertising your new telehealth services is - Yelp!
Millions of people all over the world use Yelp to search for anything from restaurants and fitness centres to interior decorators and doctors. Proven by having clocked-up over 163M reviews. So as with all free advertising - "in for a penny in for a pound", I say.
Now, don't forget Social Media, will you?
Social media has transformed the way people search for health-related information and the trend is ever increasing. Check out these Social Media Statistics for Healthcare.
It's, therefore, a very valuable exercise to update your social media profiles too!
You can use that same template that you made and saved earlier to speed up the process. Be sure to mention what new services you offer on the relevant pages e.g, Facebook has a special "services" page, so make sure you use that and remember to add links to your website with an easy way for patients to contact you and book sessions.
If you don’t already have social media pages set up, you will want to set up Facebook and LinkedIn as a very minimum. I'll provide more information on this in a separate post so to make sure you don’t miss it - you can subscribe to our blog here.
Don't Forget: AHPRA also has a strict policy and guidelines on Social Media Advertising which you can check out here.
Thinking of Paid Advertising?
If you're considering paying for advertising that is linked to your practice website, firstly, make sure you have advertised on all of the free sites first. You may find that you receive ample new clients without necessarily having to spend extra money.
However, if you do have some extra budget to spend on advertising then it’s important to make Google Adwords and Facebook ads your friend. Both of these are excellent for running successful paid adverts if done correctly.
However, if you do not do your research and go in without careful planning, you could find that you are pouring money into it with little return on investment so take your time and seek advice if you’re unsure.
If you would like more information on how to get the best out of Google Adwords and Facebook ads, drop me a line or stay tuned for upcoming articles with tips and tricks.
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Alternatively, you can contact me, Jo Childs, for a chat about implementing Telehealth into your practice and marketing your new Telehealth services on -Jo.firstname.lastname@example.org | +61730406050