The healthcare industry has experienced significant transformations in recent times, with the adoption of digital technologies and online services being the most prominent one. These changes have created an enormous potential for healthcare providers to promote their services directly to patients through novel and innovative methods. However, seizing this opportunity requires adapting to new platforms, tools, and strategies.
We’ll explore how healthcare providers can leverage digital prescriptions and online marketing to promote their services.
The Rise of Digital Prescriptions
For decades, paper prescriptions have been the standard for how patients receive medications. But the process is often cumbersome for doctors, pharmacists and patients alike. It requires physical prescriptions to be written, transported, filled and refilled. There are logistical challenges at every step.
Digital prescriptions aim to streamline this process through electronic transmission. Instead of a handwritten piece of paper, doctors can submit prescriptions electronically to pharmacies through secure networks. This allows for faster and more accurate prescription filling for patients.
The move towards digital prescriptions has accelerated rapidly in recent years:
- A 2020 survey found that 79% of providers now have some form of digital prescribing capability.
- E-prescriptions grew 104% from 2018 to 2020.
- Over 75% of pharmacies can now accept electronic prescriptions.
For healthcare providers, this shift towards digital prescriptions provides a huge opportunity to improve efficiency and patient satisfaction. But it also opens innovative new channels for marketing your services.
Key Benefits of Digital Prescriptions
Digital prescriptions provide numerous benefits for healthcare providers looking to improve patients’ experiences and access to their services:
With digital prescriptions, patients no longer have to drive to your office just to pick up a physical printout. Instead, you can electronically send their prescriptions directly to their preferred pharmacy. This saves patients time and hassle.
Digital prescriptions are received and processed rapidly by pharmacies. This allows patients to get their medications faster, leading to improved adherence. Quick access to medication is critical for many patients’ health.
Electronic prescriptions are far more secure than paper scripts. They utilize advanced encryption and electronic audits to prevent prescription fraud, misuse or diversion. This gives both providers and patients assurance and protection.
Access to Records
Digital prescriptions integrate directly into patients’ electronic health records. This gives you real-time access to their prescription history and makes refills/renewals simpler. Patients also have direct access to review their past prescriptions.
Expanded Clinical Decision Support
E-prescription systems incorporate advanced clinical decision support, like drug interaction alerts. This allows you to make smarter, safer prescribing decisions at the point of care.
Better Patient Engagement
Patients overwhelmingly prefer the convenience of digital prescriptions over paper scripts. Meeting this preference builds loyalty and satisfaction. Digital Rx also enables more touchpoints between you and patients.
For all these reasons, healthcare providers are incentivized to continue adopting digital prescribing systems. And the technology unlocks new opportunities to directly market your services to patients as part of the prescription process.
Marketing Tactics for Healthcare Providers
Healthcare provider marketing used to be limited to channels like TV, radio and print ads. But the digital age has opened new avenues to directly promote your services to highly targeted patient populations.
Here are some of the most effective tactics healthcare providers can utilize:
Digital prescriptions allow you to include customized instructions, notes or marketing messages for patients. This replaces the static sig codes used on paper Rx.
You can highlight specific instructions on how to take or use the medication. Or you can include information about your practice, like:
- Contact information
- Website/portal for booking appointments
- Mention of membership/subscription services
- Links to download your app
- Promotions or sales on upcoming services
- Availability of online scheduling
Including this marketing information directly on prescriptions helps drive patient engagement.
Digital prescriptions also enable proactive refill reminders to patients. These can be sent electronically when patients are due for prescription refills or renewals.
Along with the refill reminder, you can include promotional content like:
- Details on how to request a refill digitally
- Healthcare service promotions
- Website links to schedule return appointments
- Requests for patient reviews or testimonials
Automated refill reminders sustain patient interactions beyond the initial prescription.
Email/Text Prescription Links
Rather than simply submitting a digital prescription to the pharmacy, you can provide patients with direct email or text links to their prescription.
The links allow patients to access their prescription from any device. You can embed marketing content into the landing page they visit, like:
- Details on your practice or services
- Online scheduling/booking links
- Patient portal signup forms
- Patient satisfaction surveys
- Telehealth session scheduling
- Preventative care reminders
Email/text prescription links drive patients to digital touchpoints you control, opening marketing opportunities.
Prescription Discount Partnerships
Partner with discount services like GoodRx or SingleCare to offer coupons or savings on prescriptions you prescribe. This allows you to demonstrate value directly to patients at the time of prescribing.
You can promote these partnerships by including details on the discounts within prescription instructions. Or you can have physical prescription discount cards available in your office.
Prescription discounts incentivize patients to stay loyal to your practice to continue receiving savings.
Targeted Pharmacy Recommendations
Digital prescribing allows you to recommend or even mandate certain pharmacies for fulfilling prescriptions. Tailor these recommendations to pharmacies you partner with for services like:
- Free medication delivery/shipping
- Automated refill programs
- Prescription savings programs
- Extended hours/weekend availability
- In-house immunization services
Promoting pharmacies with expanded services gives patients more incentive to fulfill prescriptions, while building symbiotic partnerships.
Integration with Telehealth
Link and cross-promote your digital prescription capabilities within your telehealth services. Telehealth visits often end with a prescription.
You can immediately tout the benefits of digitally prescribed medications on your telehealth landing pages or during virtual visits. This caters to patients who may be unfamiliar with digital prescriptions.
Integrating e-prescribing and telehealth closed the loop for patients and provides more touchpoints to market services.
Key Online Marketing Platforms
To maximize the impact of your digital prescription marketing, you need to meet patients on the platforms where they digitally engage with healthcare services. Here are some of the key channels to focus your marketing efforts:
Develop a robust patient portal that allows existing patients to digitally access their health records, prescriptions, lab results and more.
Your portal becomes a foundation to market services like:
- Online appointment booking
- Virtual visits
- Prescription refill requests
- Preventative care alerts
- Patient education
Portals should be user-friendly, fast and optimized for mobile use. This makes them habit-forming hubs to digitally engage patients.
Healthcare Provider Sites
Your primary healthcare practice website remains a crucial online real estate. Patients still turn to Google to find local providers.
Optimize your site for keywords patients use to search for local services. Clearly promote digital offerings like:
- Telehealth consultations
- Patient portal access
- Online scheduling
- E-prescription requests
- Price/service transparency
Update your site regularly with unique, relevant content to drive SEO and traffic.
Social Media Channels
Actively manage your healthcare brand’s presence on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Provide useful health information followers can share organically.
Promote digital offerings in your social posts like:
- New telehealth service options
- Prescription discount programs
- Online appointment scheduling
- Patient portal signup
- Updates to your mobile app
Social platforms expand your reach to both existing and potential new patients.
Text messaging offers a quick, convenient communication channel for healthcare marketing. Collect patient cell phone numbers to utilize SMS.
Send text notifications for things like:
- Prescription refill reminders
- Appointment confirmations/reminders
- Links to digital prescription vouchers
- Notification of telehealth visits
- Links to download your app
Texts feel personalized and get exceptionally high open rates compared to emails. Leverage them in your digital marketing efforts.
Develop branded mobile apps patients can use to directly book appointments, access their records, request prescription refills, schedule telehealth consultations and more.
Integrate push notifications into your app to market availability of new services or programs. Make signing up fast and frictionless.
Apps create direct mobile relationships with patients. Prioritize app store optimization (ASO) to boost downloads.
Crafting Your Online Presence
To successfully market healthcare services online, you need a cohesive digital presence across platforms. Follow these best practices:
Consult Your SEO Strategy
SEO remains critical for reaching new patients online. The keywords patients search influence how you should present content.
Do keyword research to identify core terms to optimize for locally, like:
- [City] telehealth
- [City] online doctor
- [City] prescription delivery
Craft content that targets these high-value keywords.
Showcase Your Digital Offerings
Prominently display your digital healthcare options across all platforms. Include:
- Detailed telehealth pages
- Patient portal overview
- Online scheduling/booking
- App download links
- E-prescription processing
Make these options easily accessible from navigation menus.
Emphasize E-Prescription Partnerships
Highlight pharmacy partners you work with to accept e-prescriptions. List major chains like Walgreens, CVS, Walmart as well as local pharmacies.
Showcasing partners reassures patients you can securely transmit digital prescriptions.
Personalize Your Presence
Patients associate healthcare with intimacy and relationships. Using “we” instead of the brand name humanizes your presence.
Share photos and videos of doctors, nurses and staff. Avoid stock imagery. This builds familiarity and trust.
Prioritize mobile responsiveness for all platforms and digital assets. This includes sites, apps, portals, booking forms, etc.
Most patients now start their healthcare journey via mobile. A poor mobile experience turns them away.
Accessibility Best Practices
Ensure your digital presence adheres to ADA and WCAG accessibility guidelines. Offer options like:
- Alt text for images
- Closed captioning on videos
- Readable font sizes and color contrast
This allows patients with disabilities to engage.
Utilizing Social Media
Here are some best practices for healthcare providers to leverage social media for marketing:
Share Relevant Health Education
Post infographics, videos and articles on common health concerns your practice specializes in. This establishes your expertise.
Examples include content on:
- Controlling blood pressure
- Safely managing diabetes
- Reducing arthritis pain
- Treating skin conditions
- Coping with mental health disorders
Make content easily digestible. Prioritize visual formats.
Respond to Questions and Feedback
Actively respond to patient questions and feedback on social media. Be empathetic and helpful in your responses.
Assign staff to monitor mentions of your brand on social channels. Quick responses build goodwill.
Highlight Your Providers
Feature bios and photos of doctors/providers at your practice on social platforms. This puts faces to your brand.
Share provider credentials and specialties. Humanize them by mentioning hobbies and interests too.
Recognize Awareness Days
Connect your messaging to health awareness days, weeks or months. Examples include:
- Mental Health Awareness Month (May)
- Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October)
- Heart Health Month (February)
- Lung Cancer Awareness Month (November)
Commentary on awareness campaigns shows your commitment.
Promote Community Outreach
Demonstrate social responsibility by highlighting community health outreach or volunteer work your practice performs.
Examples include free health screenings, blood drives, health fairs, medication take-back programs, immunization clinics, health camps etc.
This spotlights your service beyond just medical care.
Utilize Hashtags Strategically
Research and use popular healthcare-related hashtags to tap into larger conversations. Relevant hashtags include:
Add 1-2 strategic hashtags to boost discoverability. Monitor hashtags for patient feedback.
Run Targeted Ad Campaigns
Allocate part of your marketing budget to run paid social media ads. Target these to local patient demographics and interests.
Focus ad messaging on service offerings like:
- Telehealth consultations
- Online appointment booking
- New patient discounts
- Free screenings
Geo-targeting and interest targeting make social ads highly effective. Continually test and optimize.
Engaging Patients Through Websites and Apps
Your healthcare practice’s website and mobile app are two of the most valuable platforms for digitally engaging patients. Here are some effective strategies to utilize them:
Publish a blog on your website with educational articles about health topics your practice focuses on. This attracts new visitors.
Promote new blog posts through your newsletter, social media and prescribing instructions. Blogs establish thought leadership.
Share written and video patient stories detailing positive care experiences at your practice. This provides social proof.
Gain patient permission before using stories. Showcase a diversity of satisfied patients.
Online Appointment Scheduling
Allow patients to self-schedule consultations through your website or app. This makes booking easy on their terms.
Sync online scheduling with your practice management/EHR system to show real-time availability.
Give patients access to prescription management tools through the portal. They can check status, request refills and opt into automatic refills.
Integrating prescription management improves adherence while building portal habit.
Let patients securely view statements and pay bills through your website or app. This simplifies billing and payment tracking.
Offer paperless billing and automated payment options. Make paying efficient to increase collections.
Use push notifications in your app to proactively inform patients about:
- Appointment reminders
- Immunization reminders
- New educational content
- Telehealth options
- Portal prescription refills
- Feedback surveys
Notifications nurture ongoing app engagement. Personalize notifications with patient names when possible.
SEO Site Structure
Optimize your website’s structure and navigation for SEO value. This helps patients find your site for relevant queries.
Specific services should have dedicated pages patients commonly search for like “telehealth,” “sports medicine,” “dermatology,” etc.
Positive Patient Stories
Sprinkle in positive patient stories, photos, videos and testimonials across your website and app. This provides social proof and trust.
Curate a diverse representation of satisfied patients. Ensure you have consent to share their information publicly.
Measuring Results and Optimizing
To maximize the return on investment of your digital healthcare marketing, you need to closely track key metrics and continually optimize based on performance data.
Key Performance Indicators
Start by determining the core KPIs you want to monitor the success of digital marketing initiatives:
- Website Traffic – Total visits, unique visitors, pages per visit, time on site, bounce rates
- Online Appointments – Bookings through website/app, total appointments generated
- Prescription Volumes – Total e-prescriptions, percentage digital vs. paper
- Social Media Engagement – Likes, shares, comments, clicks, follower growth
- Portal Adoption – New signups, monthly active users, pages visited
- Patient Referrals – New patients citing digital touchpoint referral
Determine baseline numbers and set goals for each KPI to track progress.
Understand which marketing efforts influence patients at different stages:
- Awareness – How they discover you initially (SEO, social, ads, referrals)
- Consideration – What builds credibility (website, reviews, telehealth options)
- Conversion – What convinces them to book (online scheduling, prescription discounts)
Attribute new patients/procedures to specific digital touchpoints using campaign tracking codes and analytics.
Integrate analytics platforms into all digital assets to monitor engagement:
- Websites/Apps – Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics
- Social Media – Facebook Insights, Instagram Insights
- Digital Ads – UTM campaign tracking, impression/click tracking
Watch trend lines and segment data to glean insights.
Let data guide decisions on where to invest and optimize marketing efforts.
Double down on initiatives showing the greatest ROI. Cut inefficient programs that fail to hit KPIs.
Test changes to messaging, platforms, creatives and targeting. Be agile in maximizing results.
Survey patients on their digital usage, preferences and satisfaction.
Ask how they prefer to book appointments, refill prescriptions, communicate with your practice etc.
Feedback should steer your digital strategy.
Generate regular reports on marketing metrics to share with leadership. These may be weekly, monthly or quarterly depending on goals.
Ensure executives understand the impact and value of your digital marketing investments. This maintains buy-in.
With a data-driven approach, you can optimize digital platforms and campaigns to continually improve patient acquisition, engagement and loyalty. Marketing fuels growth.
Q: What metrics best indicate marketing success for healthcare providers?
A: Important metrics to track include website traffic, online appointment bookings, social media engagement, patient portal signups, e-prescription rates, and new patient referrals attributed to digital channels. Analyze trends over time.
Q: How much should healthcare providers budget for digital marketing initiatives?
A: Industry benchmarks range from 3-5% of total revenue. Prioritize digital channels delivering the highest ROI. Start small while testing new initiatives before scaling up budget and effort.
Q: How can telehealth expand digital marketing opportunities?
A: Telehealth platforms allow new avenues to promote services through patient visits. Providers can cross-promote offerings like online scheduling, prescription delivery, patient portal, and text notifications during consults.
Q: What privacy rules apply to healthcare digital marketing?
A: You must comply with HIPAA regulations around protected health information (PHI). Get patient consent before publicly sharing any identifiable details. Anonymize patient stories and testimonials.
Q: How should digital and traditional healthcare marketing work together?
A: Orchestrate messages across platforms for alignment. For example, promote new telehealth offerings via social media, website banners, blog content, prescribing instructions, direct mailers, print ads and office displays. Create an omni-channel experience.
Q: How can digital marketing support a new practice launch?
A: Focus on SEO, social media and paid ads to increase awareness among local patient demographics. Offer promotional discounts for initial consultations or services. Highlight grand opening events. Collect patient emails to nurture with content.
Today’s tech-enabled patients expect seamless digital healthcare experiences. Providers must adapt marketing strategies and channels to meet rising expectations.
From optimizing websites for discoverability to engaging patients on social media, digital platforms offer direct avenues to attract, serve and retain patients.
Now is the opportune moment for providers to adopt a proactive approach in promoting services through digital channels, ensuring that every alternate page is equipped with a proper canonical tag—a crucial SEO best practice. Don’t allow competitors to surge ahead; strategic planning opens the door to tremendous opportunities for effective online marketing.
The winners will be providers who best leverage technology to deliver healthcare on patients’ terms. Digital marketing holds the key to standing out from the competition and driving sustainable success.