COVID-19, Telemedicine and Your Online Presence | Binary Fountain

May 06, 2020

[Webinar Recap] COVID-19, Telemedicine and Your Online Presence

By: Erik Fessler

webinar-covid-19-telemedicineCOVID-19 has shifted everyone’s priorities, especially those of healthcare marketers. Team members’ roles have changed, top initiatives have shifted, and spending has been cut.

In this webinar, Kate Slonaker, VP of Growth Initiatives at Binary Fountain, sat down with Niklas Kubasek, SVP of Partnerships at CareDash, to analyze the priority shifts Healthcare Marketers have made in the face of the pandemic. Next, we took a deep dive into telemedicine and explored the beneficial impact it can have on your online listings. We also discussed tips on optimizing your brand and provider listings.

You can find a link to the on-demand webinar here and at the bottom of this page. Here are some of the key takeaways:

How COVID-19 Has Shifted Priorities for Healthcare Marketers

Binary Fountain surveyed over 300 healthcare marketers to determine how this health crisis has changed their daily routine and marketing priorities. Below we highlight a few of the key findings:

  1. Internal communication could have significant implications for future employer brand. 77% of respondents reported that team members have been laid off, were at risk of being laid off, or had been reallocated. Less than a quarter (23%) reported no changes had occurred. During this uncertain time, internal communications could be critical to maintaining your future employer brand.
  2. Spending cuts have enhanced the value of transparency in communications with staff, contractors, and vendors. Media spending and paid advertising, such as ads on Google, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, saw the biggest cuts in our survey. 38% of our respondents reporting reduced spending. Content marketing saw reported spending cuts of only 25%. This seems to indicate that healthcare organizations are still spending on efforts to keep patients informed.
  3. Online directory listings and crisis communications are the two most important COVID-19 initiatives. Before the pandemic, content marketing (46% before, now down to 32%) and email marketing (40% before, now down to 33%) were the top two marketing initiatives on average. The top two initiatives appear to have shifted to crisis communication (currently at 48%, was 33%) and updating online directories (now 34%, was 31%). Online directories include sites such as Google My Business, Vitals, Yelp, and CareDash.
  4. Marketers are mainly communicating with patients individually via calls, emails, and texts. The top medium of marketer-to-patient communication in our survey was phone calls (62.8%). It was followed by email marketing (62.5%) and text messaging (49.1%). But the large share of COVID-19 related online comments surrounding healthcare brands appears on Twitter. Only 18.4% of our respondents reported using Twitter to communicate with patients. Marketers not communicating via Twitter feeds and Instagram may be missing opportunities to provide patients and consumers with valuable information.
  5. The coronavirus pandemic has spurred providers across specialties to accelerate the adoption and promotion of telemedicine. When we asked which projects and initiatives marketing teams are planning post-COVID-19, telemedicine initiatives (50%) were the top response. This was followed by physician directories and online appointments (43%). We expect interest in telemedicine will continue long after the pandemic. This is because providers and patients are getting the opportunity to utilize the technology. The increased focus on listings management and online appointments highlights the importance of removing friction from the healthcare selection process.

Offering Telemedicine Has Boosted Online Listings Engagement During COVID-19

According to Niklas, CareDash saw a 32% increase in providers and facilities that answered yes to providing telehealth services on their CareDash profiles. In response, CareDash users were 75% more likely to book an online therapy appointment. The company also saw a 9% increase in online urgent care clicks.

The Telemedicine Boost for Online Listings Will Likely Continue After the Pandemic

Telemedicine will boost your online listings engagement if patients continue to search for it. This is likely, as both sides are finally utilizing it. Even before the pandemic, telemedicine was growing in popularity among physicians and patients.

Physician adoption doubled from 14% in 2016 to 28% in 2019 in one AMA study, signaling this pre-pandemic growth. This growth exploded with the coronavirus pandemic, with Teladoc reporting 15,000+ requests per day in mid-March. We know that telemedicine is growing in importance here at Binary Fountain. 77% of our healthcare clients offer the service. The American Telehealth Association predicts that over 50% of all healthcare services will be consumed virtually by 2030.

On the patient side, COVID-19 has spurred experimentation and acceptance of telemedicine. An April 2020 YouGov study showed that the number of people that have used telemedicine has risen 3% since November 2019, a mere five-month period. During the same time period, comfort with and trust in telemedicine also rose by 10% in both categories. At the same time, the top two concerns with telemedicine, misdiagnosis, and quality of care, both dropped 13% and 11%, respectively.

How to Inform Your Patients That You Offer Telemedicine on Your Online Listings

Below are a few best practices for managing online listings for telemedicine.

  1. Activate any telemedicine options that exist in each of your business or provider listings’ sites. This will activate any visual indicators that you offer telemedicine. In addition, it may also ensure your profile is visible to consumers searching for telemedicine.
  2. Mention telemedicine early in your profiles. This is a helpful indicator for consumers and may help the word telemedicine show up in search previews.
  3. Use keywords to rank in searches for telemedicine. You will want to use keywords such as “telemedicine” and “virtual care” in the copy of your listings. Don’t forget to use commonly searched names for your specialties as well.
  4. Use the unique tools built into each listing site. Google My Business now offers an online care options tool that displays in Search and on Maps. Some practices have taken advantage of Yelp’s customizable COVID-19 Update Banners to direct their patients towards their online care options. Several websites such as Healthgrades have filters that allow patients to search exclusively for telemedicine providers. CareDash just launched an API update to support telemedicine availability and appointment scheduling tools.

The Most Effective Online Profiles for Highlighting Your Telemedicine Care

Organizations and facilities should start by claiming and optimizing their business and provider listings on Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, and CareDash. You should certainly use CareDash’s new API that supports features for availability and scheduling. The site also has a bulk upload tool to update and manage provider profiles.

Individual provider profiles on CareDash can be updated directly from their account dashboard as well. In addition, we also recommend that organizations and facilities ensure individual providers have profiles on Healthgrades, WebMD, Vitals, and RateMDs.

Telemedicine Can Improve Your Online Reputation

Because of its online nature, telemedicine is a great way to encourage new reviews and recommendations. It gives you increased access to contact information you can leverage to drive reviews and testimonials. Email addresses are an opportunity to send surveys and review requests. Cell phone numbers allow you to communicate with your patients via texting tools to send out surveys and review requests.

Speakers:

  • Niklas Kubasek, SVP of Partnerships, CareDash
  • Kate Slonaker, VP of Growth Initiatives, Binary Fountain

To learn more about how COVID-19 has affected healthcare marketers, telemedicine and your online presence, check out the free, 30-minute webinar – now available on-demand.

Ready to watch the webinar? Click here.

 

For more on telemedicine and managing your online presence during and post COVID-19, you can visit our COVID-19 Resources Page.

We also suggest the following resources:

About the Author

Erik Fessler
Marketing Coordinator

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