Judah Gutwein, Sky Care Media LLC

Some industries are slower to adapt than others and the healthcare industry is no exception.

While online marketing has largely been embraced by virtually all sectors of commerce, in the healthcare world and among healthcare providers (in disproportionally greater numbers than consumers), the internet often remains an elusive and scary place.

To be certain, important healthcare resources and websites, such as McKnight’s and others, have done much to empower healthcare providers and consumers alike.

In fact, with the increased availability of quality and relevant healthcare information, more and more consumers are turning to the internet to conduct their due diligence prior to selecting a healthcare solution or provider for themselves or their loved ones.

Whether they are looking for an in-patient post-acute care facility, a rehab specialist, or the right dosage of a certain medication, they will conduct an online search using a host of related search term permutations and will likely give their business to any one of the first several providers who appear on the first few search engine results pages.

Moreover, folks who are already familiar with and researching a specific care provider, will undoubtedly turn to the internet to read their consumer reviews and assess their online reputation.

It therefore amazes me to note that in 2017, while many healthcare professionals still “take out all the stops” to create compelling business cards, brochures and other traditional print marketing material, they often do not appreciate the importance of their online position, presence and reputation, which is of far greater significance to their bottom line.

For example, I am continually amazed to see how some providers spend a small fortune on developing their logos and choosing just the right custom aqua color and type font for their brochures, while neglecting to monitor or address the many negative online reviews they are receiving from their customers.

How could it be, I wonder, that a healthcare provider could care more about his business card relegated to his wallet and seen by a relative few, over his online ratings and reputation, considering how these things directly impact his balance sheets and profits?!

Too many providers simply have no idea or inkling whether they have any online visibility and traffic for their bread and butter keywords, much less what folks are saying about them online.

Many of these folks are of the old school and feel like they are extending themselves just to build a static 5-page website for their facilities.

For them, this is the sum of their online marketing awareness.

That is a crying shame, since many of these providers who spend thousands of dollars on creating high-end marketing material, wind up being hurt or victimized by not investing more effort and paying more attention to their digital marketing efforts.

When there is nobody “watching the house” to monitor your online presence and feedback, your reputation will be built by others and it won’t necessarily be pretty and your business may be adversely affected.

A proper analogy would be a hotel in Miami that is losing customers every single day due to their poor ratings on TripAdvisor.com. It is quite difficult to quantify the lost revenue of these squandered opportunities!

I was recently interviewed by a healthcare journal and the reporter asked me to provide them with one personal and memorable quote to describe the power of online feedback from consumers.

Here is what I came up with:

“What your customers are saying about you online, is akin to having them plaster their review on every visible billboard, in every major city, in all 50 states, in perpetuity!”

Indeed, if you have a bad reputation and limited visibility online, all your traditional marketing efforts to increase profits, is akin to pouring water into a cup with a gaping hole in the bottom!

With the internet fast replacing old forms of “facility research” and “due diligence,” your enhanced online visibility will increase your profitability and bottom line!

Therefore, make certain that you don’t ignore the internet.

In fact, embrace it and own it!

Judah Gutwein, LNHA, is the CEO of Sky Care Media LLC, which is an online marketing agency for healthcare providers.