It was September 2019 when I first wrote this article, and I’m updating it in 2022. I have yet to see a good primary care telemedicine practice online. Most telemedicine companies focus on acute care issues, UTIs, URIs, and medical refills. In this article, I’ll discuss marketing a virtual Primary Care practice, as that’s what I’m focused on learning over the next few years.
It’s important to find a brand that fits you, and it’s just as important to ensure the patient enjoys a good client journey through your platform.
Why Primary Care as a Virtual Practice
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 manages chronic diseases – even though many of us wish it was more focused on prevention.
In this article on marketing your virtual practice, I’ll focus on finding patients, where to advertise, and publicizing your practice.
Marketing a Primary Care Telemedicine Practice
The first set of questions to ask yourself are:
- What’s the goal of such a virtual practice?
- What’s the starting and ongoing budget for ads?
- How much time can you dedicate to marketing the practice?
- Who is the target audience?
- Who are the 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 that 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.
#1 Branding Your Virtual Practice
A catchy logo and a unified message are magnetic. People gravitate towards that. It’s worth having a cohesive brand so you don’t confuse your customer.
I’m not the best at this, but finding someone on Fiverr or Upwork who can create a branding strategy for you is not difficult.
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. Many patients gave up on me because I didn’t know how my own telemedicine software worked.
Put several hours into testing your own platform. Pretend to be patient and test-drive your platform. It doesn’t matter what platform you’re using, whether VSee or Doxy, or Dr Chrono. It should make sense to you and be a good experience for your customer.
I suggest reaching out to the TM software provider as well. They have marketers who will work with you for free to ensure your software works smoothly.
I started my practice on VSee which was a bad experience. Now that I am working with Akute Health it’s been much smoother.
#3 Your Pricing
The advertised price 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 patients 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 might 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 another 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 greedy doctor who just wants more sales!
#6 Patient Websites
There are websites for moms, people with diabetes, psoriasis, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, eating disorders, depression, athletes, those with IBS … lots more.
Becoming an active contributor to 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 useless, while others have found 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 websites 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 appear on several 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.
Being proactive about this is far better 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 a 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 to turn your writing or newsletters into an effective marketing tool.
#10 Writing Articles
There are numerous health websites and tech websites that 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, and podcasts, and then consider radio channels and TV stations.
I got interviewed by another podcaster a couple of years ago and got many 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 that 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 UTIs.
#14 Incorporate Technology
People love tech. My ass is still in the early 2000s; 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 called mHealth.
Nowadays, you can find devices that measure peak flow, cardiac rhythms, and 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 remotely manage your Primary Care patients.
#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
I connected with several coffee shop owners when I still had my OR medical license. One owner agreed to sign up her employees with me. It took a few months to figure out the logistics because I had no 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; 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 managing chronic diseases with telemedicine. Or you could write about ethical telemedicine practices.
A book is a way to get your attitude and viewpoint before your audience. Most may not be interested but it’s a great tool for marketing a virtual primary care practice, especially if your style stands out.
#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 dermatology, endocrinology, or a GI practice.
Marketing a virtual Primary Care practice means finding your voice and standing up for your practice. Why is it good, why should people sign up?
#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, explain, describe, 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.