If you are a healthcare professional looking to grow your practice, you have undoubtedly delved into the possibility of online marketing. After all, most businesses, medical and otherwise, have an internet presence. You may know inherently that digital media is important for the continued growth of your practice, but the question is:
Why is digital media important?
Understanding the significance of your practice’s online presence will allow you to develop a marketing plan that is relevant and timely and, as a result, will help you bring more patients to your practice.
What is digital media?
In order to determine how this burgeoning digital revolution will benefit your practice, it is important to recognize what digital media is. In broad terms, digital media is any material (graphics, text, audio and video) that can be transmitted via a network of computers. The components that make digital media possible include:
- The internet: A connection of computers that the World Wide Web rests on
- The World Wide Web: A way for people using these computers to look at websites via browsers (like Chrome and Safari)
- Email: A system of sending messages via the network of computers
- Social media: Online communication channels based on community interaction and input
- The Internet of Things (IoT): An online network linking hardware that is embedded with electronics, software, sensors & network connectivity (for example, a Blu-ray player that can connect to the internet and stream online movies).
The age of digital media
To lend some perspective on how long digital media has been around, here is a timeline. Surprisingly, of all these media, email is the oldest. Social media – barely a decade old – is the infant:
Email – 1965
Internet – 1969
World Wide Web – 1993
Internet of Things – 1999
Social Media – 2003/2004
Why you should care about digital media
As you can see, digital media is all about connection: A connection of computers, of people and of information. Put simply, these connections are why you should dedicate your time and resources to boosting your practice’s online presence. In the end, a relationship with potential patients – both informational and personal – is what you need to bring them through your door.
If that does not convince you of the internet’s importance in medical marketing, here are six statistics to prove the point.
1. Everyone’s online. Most industrialized countries have internet available for a high percentage of their population. Consider that 96.5 percent of people in Iceland, which tops the list of countries with an online presence, have internet access, compared with 48.9 percent in South Africa, which comes in at 80th. Even Chad, one of the world’s poorest countries, has some internet access.
2. Everyone’s searching. There are around 3.2 billion internet users worldwide, and 40,000 Google searches per second. That’s over 3.5 billion searches a day and 1.2 trillion searches a year.
3. The internet is an information marketplace. There are 30 trillion web pages online (up from 1 trillion in 2008), and Google indexes them all 100 billion times a month.
4. Social media is ubiquitous. A study by the Pew Research Center found that 65 percent of all Americans are on social media. Its popularity is even more apparent when you look at age groups: 9 out of 10 young adults ages 18-29 and at least a third of adults ages 65 and up are active on social media sites.
5. Google is an important resource. Eighty percent of internet users have looked online for health information in the past 12 months. Eighty-four percent of college graduates use the internet to get health information, and another 30 percent of internet users look online for medical material for another person, such as a family member or friend.
6. Patients want health information. Patients look online for healthcare information before looking for healthcare providers. The following table compares how often fertility medical terms are searched, compared with fertility provider. As you can see, in vetro (spelled incorrectly) is searched over a million times, but infertility doctors is searched barely over 30,000 times:
|Search Term||Searches/month (same month)|
|Que es endometriosis||880,000|
Take the next step
Are you ready to delve deeper into the world of digital media? Digital Doctor, an educational site hosted by Vanguard Communications and IVF Worldwide, is a great place to start. Watch webinars hosted by medical and marketing professionals and read articles discussing hot topics in the digital healthcare industry.