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Healthcare digital marketers: Here’s why transparency is your new best friend

If you’re a digital marketing manager, the phrase “search engine optimization” (or SEO) might send a chill down your spine.

That’s because for most people who work on web presence, SEO is the lowlight of their day. It’s difficult, it’s tedious, and more and more, it’s hard to see the impact.

You’d rather focus on what you love doing: producing content that resonates with patients. But as long as you’re bogged down with keyword research, editing meta-data, and keeping up with Google algorithms, you just don’t have the time.

Salvation from the SEO slog, however, can come from an unlikely source—patient ratings and reviews of your providers. Deployed correctly, it can make a world of difference for your organization’s web presence.

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Hospital (UAMS), for example, deployed a transparency program two years ago. Despite spending no time or money promoting the initiative to the public, they still saw dramatic results: an almost immediate 28% increase in traffic.

Why are transparency initiatives so powerful? Because they reflect exactly what your patients want to see.

Here are four ways that transparently sharing your patient feedback draws new patients in, allowing you to put your attention back into what matters most to your patients.

Reviews are magnets for traffic

Recall the last time you Googled around for a local service. Weren’t you more likely to click a link for a business with star reviews?

That’s because reviews mean that other customers have visited first, and that inspires trust. Those stars signify social proof that a service is worth looking into. Across all sectors, consumers rely on these reviews to guide purchasing decisions, and NRC Health’s research has found that this is especially true in healthcare.

In fact, patients’ reviews are the feature that customers most want to see on your website.

Transparency helps earn trust from patients by giving them what they want—and reviews make patients more likely to visit your site, without the time-consuming grunt-work of SEO.

Reviews feed the content machine

 Google is hungry. To stay on top of its search results demands constant, relevant updates to drive search traffic toward your site.

But marketing departments only have so many hours in a day. If you’re running a small hospital system that can’t afford to hire a fleet of writers, you might not be able to keep up with the demand.

That’s where patient reviews come in. As you publish more patient reviews on your site, they become an extremely productive part of your content-development effort.

The sheer volume and frequency of reviews you publish will help ensure that your site’s content stays fresh and relevant. That takes pressure off marketing staff, and frees up their time to ponder other initiatives.

The patient’s voice always comes through

And it’s not just a quantitative advantage. Patient-produced reviews will also be some of the best content you can ever host. That’s because everything that patients write is—necessarily—patient-focused.

Hospitals sometimes struggle to fit the patient voice into their messaging. They frequently default to boasting about their facilities, or their providers. But what hospitals have to say about themselves is rarely what patients are searching for.

A transparency program allows patient reviews to bring an authentic voice to content. These reviews reflect patients’ real-world concerns, and are written in language that patients naturally use.

This, of course, is also the language that potential patients use when they search for services. Reviews will be rich with keywords, and you won’t have to spend time hunting for them.

The benefits keep coming

 The best part: transparency begets more transparency. As more reviews accrue, more patients will be drawn to your hospital’s site, and ultimately to your facility.

Further, seeing those reviews helps pave the way for future consumers to leave comments as well. They’ll feel less conspicuous leaving feedback if they see many others doing so, and they’ll better understand how to contribute to the conversation.

It’s a virtuous circle—the effect compounds with time. The earlier you get started, the more good will, reviews, and, ultimately, customers you’ll see.

The genie’s out of the bottle

Some bad news on that front, though: if you haven’t started a transparency program yet, you’re becoming more and more of a minority.

For many hospitals, transparency is table-stakes for staying competitive in the modern healthcare landscape. NRC Health alone partners with over 140 health systems in their transparency initiatives, and we’ve been helping many of them for years. Those compound effects have been accumulating for a long time.

The best time to “go transparent” was years ago. The next-best time is today.

Don’t do it by yourself

If your system hasn’t implemented a transparency program yet, it’s never too late to start!

When you’re ready to deploy a transparency solution, however, we don’t recommend doing it by yourself. Like SEO, transparency is a big job. Verifying patients, vetting patient feedback for libelous or false information, flagging HIPAA concerns, and formatting reviews for publication can quickly eat up your time.

But with a dedicated partner managing transparency for you, you can win that time back, and—finally!—be able to devote it to creative projects that will make a difference for your hospital.