How to Digitize WOM Efforts in the Healthcare Industry

digitize WOM in healthcare

How did you find your last primary care physician?  I’ve had plenty of friends and colleagues ask who I use for fear of going to a non-credible physician. Though I think that new resources like ZocDoc are easier for finding doctors, most consumers frankly do not.

Consumers seeking new physicians still follow word-of-mouth referrals more than any other source. According to a study conducted by the American Osteopathic Association in September 2013, 65.9% of respondents relied on word-of-mouth.

Top 5 sources for finding a physician

A major reason for WOM being number one could be the fact that consumers do not necessarily trust digital resources for healthcare just yet. It’s hard to put 100% trust into just a website, or reviews from strangers, when it seems much safer to accept referrals from trusted friends and family. So, if you are in the healthcare industry and want consumers to take your internet-word for your services, how can you bring WOM into your digital marketing?

Community Management

If you have a Facebook and Twitter account set up already, let your fans know that you’re open to their questions. Let them know that there are specific guidelines to what you can and can’t answer publicly (due to HIPAA, other legal reasons, etc.), but set aside a certain amount of time to answer consumer questions about healthcare providers. Link to appropriate information on your website and other relevant information when necessary.

Why will this help? You’re starting a conversation with your consumers. How do people initially become friends? Conversation. It’s that easy to build rapport with prospects and develop lasting relationships.

Consider a Discussion Board

Consider starting a community discussion board that you can link. Let your employees engage with consumers and set up profiles for reference. Consider enabling profile images to let consumers see everyone behind your company, and see each other.

Why will this help? Consumers do not always immediately think of social media when they have a question. But if there’s a discussion board with similar topics, it might be easier to jump into the conversation. They can ask about specific physicians and recount specific stories as well, providing valuable feedback.

Take Conversations Offline

If someone has a major issue or a very specific question concerning their health, use your resources to reach out to them personally. Offer to contact through email or even a phone call (depending on the case). Talking about healthcare can be a highly private matter. The best way to build consumer trust in your brand is to let them know that you care about their privacy.

Looking for more ideas on digitizing your healthcare marketing? Check out how healthcare facilities can boost their social media and mobile presences here.