How Patients Use Online Research to Seek Health Issues And Doctors

Patients used to find their doctors mainly through word of mouth. Patients who needed a doctor would typically ask friends or family for recommendations. However, as the internet has grown in popularity, many patients look for doctors online. This blog will walk you through 5 ways doctors are found online through a patient’s use of the internet and practices to improve your clinic’s online presence.

5 ways of how patients search online for doctors

#1 Social media

Though a lot of online information is misleading, social media is still a tool for patients to look for health symptoms and find a doctor. According to the Binary Fountain survey, patients’ use of social media to look for a doctor increased by 621% from 2017 to 2019, rising from 7% in 2017 to 51% in 2019. 

One way for doctors to reach out to patients on social media is to be a reliable source of information. There is a lot of misinformation on social media, but you can gain the trust of potential patients by sharing accurate information.

You can share social media content that links to your website, blog, or other reliable sources, making it simple for others to share credible information. If you don’t have a large social media following, you could run ads targeting patients in your area. These ads appear as sponsored posts on social networks like Facebook, so potential patients see them as they browse through their feeds.

#2 Reviews on websites

The 2019 Binary Fountain survey shows that review sites have become increasingly important to patient decision-making.

Through patients’ use of internet, 75% of patients are driven by online reviews when selecting a provider. 60% of patients read online reviews about a provider even when referred.

According to the survey, other patients’ comments have become the second crucial factor when selecting a physician. Only recommendations from friends and family rank higher.

Asking for reviews is one way to enhance your presence on review sites. By gaining reviews, your potential patients get a positive first impression and can even help with ranking in search engines.

If you do not actively ask for reviews from your patients, you will frequently receive very few or a larger rate of negative reviews. These situations happen because patients are rarely motivated to go online to leave a rating unless they are extremely pleased or dissatisfied.

If you actively ask patients for feedback, you’ll find that most of them are eager to review because they are pleased with their care. 

When you have many positive reviews, those few negative feedbacks don’t seem so bad as your star ratings rise. They can even add credibility to the positive comments by showing that you are not hiding the negative comments.

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#3 Map listings

Local listings are a foundational aspect of online marketing for a medical practice. During patients’ internet use, they often search for the nearest doctors, which is why location is critical for many patients. Therefore, it is essential to keep your map listings updated so that you appear in map listings for locally relevant searches. 

To make this process easier, you can use distribution services or manually claim and edit all of your online listings.

Just make sure the information is as reliable as possible. Fill out as many details as you can to make your map listing stand out, including: 

  • Setting your specialty category
  • Your website link
  • Adding your operation hours
  • Complete contact information, services, and photos are all part of this. 

Some map listings, such as Google, include extra features such as adding direct links to your meeting request form and gathering reviews. Providing as much information as possible increases your practice’s chances of showing up in local map results.

Another method of how patients search online that has grown in popularity is voice search. 

According to the Binary Fountain report, voice search was another way to find a doctor that grew dramatically, from 4% in 2017 to 31% in 2019.

Voice search optimization differs from traditional search optimization. When a person conducts a voice search, the query is usually phrased differently than if the user typed it into a web browser. 

Voice search is more conversational and is frequently worded as a question. 

To optimize your content for voice search, you must adopt a more conversational tone. In short, you should “speak your patients’ language.” This includes thinking about:

  • How your patients might discuss their symptoms or conditions
  • How they might ask questions. 
  • When appropriate, use that type of phrasing in your content.

In terms of voice search, FAQ content can be beneficial to doctors. Because voice searchers are more likely to ask questions, this content aligns well with common voice search phrases. They boost the chances that your content will be featured as a search result.

#5 Mobile devices

Even if your website is technically responsive or has a mobile version, there are some mobile usage errors that your website developers may have overlooked. Some website designs and content layouts do not translate well to mobile devices, such as

  • Speed
  • Image usage
  • Link/ button size
  • How your menus are displayed
  • And calls to action all have an impact here.

Responsive web design is essential for helping patients connect with you on mobile and helping patients find you in the first place. If your website is mobile-friendly, Google will rank it higher in mobile search results.

During patients’ use of internet, patients should be able to find the answers they need on your website and your contact just as easily on mobile as they do on desktop.

Final words

Understanding how patients search online allows you to focus on practices that help your medical clinics appear in those searches more frequently. This will give patients referred to you more confidence in proceeding with the appointment and give patients who have never heard of you a chance to learn about your clinics and how your team can help them.

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