Episode 25: The One Question You Need to Ask Every Patient

There are lots of things you need to do to run a successful practice. But to get better data on your practice’s reputation and keep it growing consistently over time, there’s one question you need to ask every patient…

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Episode Transcript: The One Question You Need to Ask Every Patient

Hello everybody, and welcome to The Medical Marketing Podcast from Messenger – the show where we give physicians and practice marketing managers like you actionable tips and advice to help improve your marketing, grow your revenue, and take patient experience to the next level.

I’m your host, Crawford Ifland, and today we’re going to be talking about the one question you need to be asking every patient to keep your practice healthy and growing. Curious? Let’s dive in.

The Question Most Doctors Ask

Now when I say that there is one question you should ask every patient, most doctors think they know what it is, because most doctors ask the same question.

That question is this: “How did you hear about us?”

Honestly, this question is great. I’m not going to deny how useful it can be. Many doctors employ it on website forms, online appointment requests, and pre-visit paperwork. And if you’re not yet asking this question at your practice, you should be.

Asking patients how they heard about your practice can help you understand which marketing channels are most effective, and which may need some help – so this question isn’t useless. By all means, keep asking patients how they found you online.

But this question has problems.

One of these problems is that often times the results aren’t aggregated and analyzed – there’s no system or central database the staff can tap into to find out where patients are coming from.

There’s no unifying “source of truth” – a doctor who talks to patients face-to-face may feel that most of them are coming from word-of-mouth referrals, while the marketing staff may feel that the website or advertising campaigns are responsible for the patient pipeline. 

This leads to inaccurate information, or at best, an incomplete picture of your marketing channels.

Another problem is habituation – if you don’t consistently ask every single patient how they heard about you, you’re bound to get inaccurate results. 

The key is to ask everybody across every facet of your brand. Regardless of whether a patient called to make an appointment or filled out a form online, they should always be presented with the question “How did you hear about us?”

Correct usage of the question “how did you hear about us?” is useful, but at best, it only goes part way.

It only gives you partial data on the reach of your marketing channels, but it doesn’t give you any clue about their effectiveness.

That’s why there’s a better question you should ask every patient.

The Question Doctors Need to Ask Every Patient

Ok, so asking patients how they heard about you is at least somewhat useful, but there’s a better question out there.

And that question is this: “What made you choose our practice?”

Asking patients how they heard about you gets you part of the picture – you learn a little more about which facet of your brand they may have interacted with, whether it was your social media, a paid advertisement, a high organic ranking on Google, or something more traditional, like a radio campaign.

But asking patients why they chose you gives you so much more data.

By asking patients why they chose you over other providers, you can peer into their mind and get an idea of their thought process. 

A patient telling you that they heard about you by hearing an ad on the radio isn’t incredibly useful. But if you ask that patient why they chose you, they might say that a friend had a good experience and recommended your practice. In that case, it’s not really the radio ad that convinced them – it was the recommendation of their friend.

If a patient says they first heard about you on social media, that’s somewhat useful. But if you ask them why they chose you, they may say something different. They might reveal that while they first heard about your practice on social media, they did some more research online, browsed around your website and the websites of your competitors, and found your practice to have the most experience and credibility. 

That gives you so much better data than just “I found you on Facebook” – it tells you that your practice brand is strong and clearly articulates your expertise and focus patient care. A pretty social media profile isn’t going to convince patients to trust you with their health…but demonstrating that you are experienced, authoritative, and trustworthy will set patients at ease. 

If a patient says that they chose you because of all the great reviews they read for your practice online, that tells you something.

And if they don’t mention your reviews, but instead focus on how terrible the reviews of other practices were (and how good yours looked by comparison), that tells you something different.

Recommended Resource

Podcast Episode: How to Get More Patient Reviews

If you want to get more patient reviews for your practice, you need to have a robust system for collecting feedback and turning positive patient experiences into glowing online reviews. This week on the Medical Marketing Podcast, we’ll show you how to do just that.

Listen to the Episode

It’s this kind of data that you can use to your advantage to optimize each of your marketing channels, enhance your online reputation, and address issues – and it’s all based on the real feedback and thought processes of real patients.

It might not be hard numbers of marketing campaign performance and growth over time, but it’s data that would be impossible to get unless you asked patients that all-important question: “What made you choose us?”

And that’s the best kind of data you can have.

Next Week…

Well, that’s all for this week’s episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast – thanks for listening.

Next week, we’ll be discussing online reputation and trying to answer one question: what happens when you type your name into Google?

You can subscribe to The Medical Marketing Podcast for free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. And if you like the show, let us know by writing a review on Apple Podcasts – we’ll have a link in the show notes.

That’s all for today’s episode – I’m Crawford Ifland. See you next week.

Crawford Ifland is the CEO of Messenger Healthcare Marketing. Messenger is a digital marketing agency specializing in custom healthcare website design, healthcare SEO, promotional videos, and more. Messenger gives the nation’s leading physicians and healthcare organizations the tools they need to grow their organizations.

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