Since the onset of the pandemic, healthcare clinics and businesses have seen a significant drop in patient appointments—and more than half a year later, business for these organizations remains below their pre-pandemic levels.
In the dental industry alone, virtually all dental offices across the United States have reopened—but overall patient visits remain 20 percent lower than their regular level. Much of this decline is being attributed to patient fears that visiting a healthcare building will put them at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19.
While those concerns are understandable, research shows that when safety protocols are followed in a healthcare setting, the risk of becoming the pandemic’s next victim is extremely low—which means patients shouldn’t put off needed checkups and healthcare over the minimal risk such an appointment may face.
Your healthcare business can encourage these visits through advertising that directly addresses these concerns, and reminds patients of the importance of maintaining their regular checkup schedule and staying on top of their healthcare needs. Here are some tips to craft ad campaign messaging that will increase patient visits for your practice.
1. PUT SAFETY FRONT-AND-CENTER IN YOUR MESSAGING
To ensure patients are safe when visiting your clinic or practice, safety procedures need to be in place. Your advertising should immediately address the fair concerns current and prospective customers may have, and highlight the different steps you have taken to prioritize their safety during their appointments.
These safety measures may include the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), protective barriers between front-desk personnel and patients, in-house cleaning regimens, and spaced out appointment schedules to reduce the number of people in your office at any one time. Doctor’s offices may want to create separate waiting rooms for sick patient and well patients, and patient questionnaires should screen for symptoms and other risk factors that may increase a person’s risk of having been exposed to the virus.
Not only do these safety measures improve the safety of your healthcare business, they also directly address and ease patient concerns that an office visit might put them in harm’s way.
2. COMMUNICATE NEW PROCEDURES AND PROTOCOLS FOR YOUR PATIENTS TO FOLLOW
While your facility should be highlighting the changes it has made to its own procedures, you should also use ad messaging to communicate new expectations for patients. Rules about visiting your office when sick, as well as other hygienic expectations such as wearing masks, or when to visit the office versus consulting over the phone with a nurse, don’t just help your patients understand how to properly access your healthcare services. They also signal to your entire audience that patients themselves have certain responsibilities when it comes to ensuring a safe environment.
These patient rules and expectations can be featured in social media ads, email newsletters, on a special section of your website, in direct mailings, and on other ad materials where patients are already aware of your business, and are seeking more information to guide their decision on whether or not to make an appointment.
3. REACH OUT TO EXISTING PATIENTS WITH REGULAR CHECKUP REMINDERS
If you’re an established practice, many of your patients may have decided to delay physicals, wellness checks and other routine visits because they deem them non-essential, and possibly not worth the extra hassle and risk of visiting your office.
While this rationale may make sense over a shorter period of time, the length of the pandemic is such that long delays in accessing healthcare could create health complications resulting from delays in diagnosis and treatment of certain conditions. A failure to identify and treat high blood pressure could increase a person’s risk of heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular issues. Delayed or skipping bi-annual dental cleanings can lead to additional cavities, and more intensive dental work. Full-body scans by a dermatologist, meanwhile, are essential to identifying early-stage growths or mutations that may be pre-cancerous or cancerous.
Your ad strategy should target specific patients whose regular appointment schedules have lapsed. Email, direct mail, recorded phone calls and other advertising channels can help you reach out to them, remind them of their need to schedule an appointment, and direct them to more information about the safety procedures set up by your business.
4. PROMOTE VIRTUAL APPOINTMENTS AND SERVICES (IF POSSIBLE)
Healthcare joins many other industries in its rapid adoption or remote and virtual operations over the past year. E-visits, including phone and video appointments and consultations with healthcare professionals, have become an important tool to provide healthcare access to patients while avoiding unnecessary in-person contact. Some early metrics suggest that virtual healthcare services have increased by 4,000 percent since the start of the public health crisis.
Some of this adoption may be part of a permanent change, with healthcare businesses embracing telehealth as a way to provide better access to their patients. Your business may want to consider adopting these services and capabilities, if you haven’t already, Once these services are available, promote them heavily across your ad campaigns to attract current and new patients who prefer to use virtual visits whenever possible.
The pandemic hasn’t changed your patients’ need for healthcare. Develop an advertising strategy that positions your business as a solution for those continued needs. Looking for help? Contact us today.