It’s September 2019 and I have to yet see a good primary care telemedicine practice come online. The majority of telemedicine companies are focusing on acute care issues, UTI’s, URI’s, and medical refills. Quantity trumps quality.
Primary care is probably one of the better specialties in medicine to go online. Sure, you can’t do a physical exam on your patients but 90% of Primary Care is managing chronic diseases – even though many of us wished it was more focused on prevention.
This post is about marketing your Primary Care telemedicine practice. How to find new patients. Where to advertise. And ways of getting your practice name publicized.
Marketing a Primary Care Telemedicine Practice
The first set of questions to ask yourself are:
- What’s the goal with such a business?
- What’s the starting and ongoing budget?
- How much time can you dedicate to the practice?
- Who is the target audience?
- Who are potential clients?
- How will you measure your performance?
You don’t need all the answers, but it’s a good way to anticipate the work ahead.
Obviously, you can hire a marketing company who will do the branding and marketing for you. I don’t have good delegation skills, so for now I prefer to do the work myself.
A catchy logo and a unified message is magnetic. People gravitate towards that. It’s worth having a cohesive brand so that you don’t confuse your customer.
The words you write on your website, the things you publish on social media, your tone, your photos, and your logo should all fit. This makes us more credible, especially because our patients can see us in person.
#2 Your Telemedicine Platform
If your telemedicine platform is clunky, it’ll reflect poorly on you. I’ve had many patients give up on me because I didn’t know how my own telemedicine software worked.
I suggest reaching out to the TM software provider as well. They have marketers who will work with you for free to make sure your software works smoothly.
#3 Your Pricing
The price(s) you advertise will be one of the biggest marketing drivers. Whether you want to offer the first session for free or offer an introductory price, incorporate your price into your marketing strategy.
My goal is to attract the kind of patients who will be with me in the long-term. For that, I’ll need to set a fair price and consider adjusting it based on market feedback.
Do you want 1,000 easy patient for $20/month? Or maybe you’ll do better with more complex cases at $100/month? Or perhaps you prefer to have patients pay per visit.
#4 Contacting Interest Groups
I suggest reaching out to groups such as CTRC, TM, CTN, ATA, and Rural Health. Ask a question, request resources, and let them know what you’re doing. They likely will get you one step closer to your goal.
If your local university has a telemedicine group, reach out to them as well. You mind find someone passionate about the topic and find free advertising streams.
If you want to focus on a particular patient population, reach out to your niche group as well. Maybe it’s rock climbers, digital nomads, firefighters, LGTBQ, or whatever other group you feel you can represent well.
#5 Connecting with Public Figures
Public figures might be influencers or anyone who has a decent sized audience. Don’t focus on volume; someone with 10k followers might be better than someone with 150k. You want the right audience.
A direct message to someone on YouTube or IG or the moderator of a FB group is a good start. Phrasing the email is probably the hardest – how do you not come across as a douchey doctor who just wants more sales!
#6 Patient Websites
There are websites for moms, for people with diabetes, psoriasis, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, eating disorders, depression, for athletes, for those with IBS … lots more.
Becoming an active contributor on such websites is a great way to find potential clients. No need to advertise yourself, other than a quick blurb about what you do, your Primary Care telemedicine practice, and which states you’re licensed in.
Google Ads or Facebook Ads or IG Ads … they are all effective in their own way. Some small private practice doctors find FB to be useless, others have found some decent leads.
It’s worth experimenting to see where your Primary Care telemedicine practice can gain the most traction. I have written a decent article on creating ads and marketing in general.
#8 Your Online Presence
Google yourself and see where you show up. Each of those website is a great source for you to advertise your work. I found the following websites when I did a search query for my name:
And because of my medical board investigation, I also show up on a few other delightful websites. So, you need to attack this head on. If you have any board issues or malpractice cases, openly address them on your website.
It’s far better to be proactive about this because you can control the narrative. Need help with the wording? Hire a copywriter to make it sound spiff and clean.
#9 SEO Strategies
SEO refers to Search Engine Optimization. All that means is that when you write an article online, the words in that article mesh well with a search engine. That way, if someone searches “Primary Care telemedicine 90024”, they might stumble on an article you wrote on your own website.
I recorded podcast about SEO which might be worth listening to.
You can hire someone who can go through your site and create the proper SEO architecture in order to turn your writing or newsletters into an effective marketing tool.
#10 Writing Articles
There are numerous health websites and tech websites which might be interested in an article from a physician. Especially someone who is a Primary Care telemedicine provider.
Most publications have an editor to whom you can submit an article. If they publish it then that’s a great marketing resource for you.
Don’t discount newspapers or magazines. Plenty of people still use them. I write for a small paper magazine from time to time about health and green living.
#11 Giving Interviews
If you live in a smaller city or have an affinity for podcasts, ask if they’d like to chat with you. Offer up an interesting topic that they might like.
These are great ways to find potential clients. I would start out with YouTube channels, podcasts, and then consider radio channels and TV stations.
I got interviewed by another podcaster a couple of years ago and got a ton of hits on this website. If I had a product to peddle, it would have been a good resource for me.
#12 Volunteer Work
Just like you might volunteer at a homeless shelter or a mobile health van, you can volunteer as a telemedicine physician. Start by reaching out to various charity groups who provide healthcare.
Alternatively, hoof it to a few free clinics in your city and get your name out there. “Oh, that’s the telemedicine doctor, she has her own Primary Care telemedicine practice!”
Don’t forget churches or other religious organizations. Even libraries have spaces which they reserve for educating the public. A talk on obesity or diabetes prevention might be something they’d promote.
#13 Stand Out
A Primary Care telemedicine practice isn’t all that sexy on its own. It’s necessary to stand out in some way. Maybe it’s your price or your availability or the specific audience you serve.
I have decided to stand out by charging ridiculously low monthly fees for my particular patient population. I target them on YouTube by connecting with influencers there.
This works well for me because I get the kind of clients I enjoy working with. And they get my message and my practice style. That’s why I can charge less money, knowing that I won’t get hit up constantly for pain meds or Cipro for uncomplicated UTI’s.
#14 Incorporate Technology
People love tech. My ass is still in the early 2000’s; I don’t have a fitbit and I don’t have an Alexa device. But your patients might love personal health devices – this space is referred to as mHealth.
Nowadays, you can find devices which measure peak flow, cardiac rhythms, muscle tone, cameras to look into ears, digital stethoscopes… so many more. And this space is blowing up in 2019.
Many telemedicine platforms will help you incorporate such mHealth data into your EHR. You can import that data directly and use it to manage your Primary Care patients remotely.
#15 Word of Mouth
Make your website and your services are easy to share. And make sure that you offer exceptional care in the beginning and actively engage your patients for referrals.
Starting with your friends and family is a great idea. There is likely someone in your network who is looking for exactly the kind of service you’re offering with your Primary Care telemedicine practice.
#16 Local Businesses
When I still had my OR medical license, I connected with several coffee shop owners. One owner agreed to sign up her employees with me. It took a few months to figure out the logistics because I didn’t have any experience.
Figure, it’s either the patient who pays for their healthcare, an employer, or the government. With telemedicine, the government is an ugly beast to tackle. But businesses will do anything to retain their talent.
#17 Write a Book
Don’t write just any book, but write a good book, if writing is your thing. Anything that can demonstrate your line of thinking to your target audience.
It could be directed at clinicians or at patients. Maybe you can write a well-researched book on how to manage chronic diseases with telemedicine. Or you could write about ethical telemedicine practices.
#18 Partner with a Clinic
There are a lot of half-burnt-out physicians running their own private practices. Consider reaching out to them to see if they would like help with access for their patients.
Maybe you can handle all of the lab reviews or medication refills. You could do the after-hours consults or manage all the diabetics.
It doesn’t have to be a private practice. You could do the same for a dermatology, endocrinology, or GI practice.
#19 Define It
Telemedicine is not mainstream. Primary Care online is even more obscure. One of the funnest opportunities right now is to just go on various platforms and explain what a virtual Primary Care practice might look like.
You don’t have to have all of the answers. But you should define it, explain it, describe it, and create a vision in other people’s heads as to what it can be.
For a patient to want to work with you, it’s nice if they can get a preview of your mug before they sign up. Record some videos of yourself talking about your practice or about medical problems.
Such videos can be hosted for free on YouTube or Vimeo or Twitch. If someone searches “Dr. Mo”, I want them to land on my videos.