Have you set up your hospital web profile correctly?

This article is one of a series looking at some common reasons why consultants might not be seeing more private patients. They focus on the things that may be getting in the way of you growing a healthy private practice – and what you need to do to fix them.

This time, we’re looking at your hospital web profiles and whether they’re set up correctly for success.

What is my hospital web profile?

Your hospital web profile can be found on the website of the private hospital group you work at. It gives an overview of you and your practice, including things like your personal bio, qualifications, memberships and the conditions you treat. It’ll have been set up by your hospital’s marketing manager, probably based on a form they ask you to fill in when you joined the hospital.

Your hospital web profile is an essential, yet often underappreciated, piece of your marketing communications. It’s an easy way to get in front of an audience of motivated patients looking to book an appointment and convince them why they should choose you over anyone else. What’s more, it’s completely free.

What does “setting up” a web profile mean?

Reading the title of this article, you might ask: “Don’t you write a profile, rather than “set it up”?”.

Nine times out of ten you’d be right – and we have a course on how to write an effective profile in Private Practice Surgery, our soon-to-be-launched online membership. But on this occasion, I do mean “set up”.

To understand this, let’s look at how hospital websites work and how they get your profile in front of patients.

How hospital websites work

Some hospital group websites are more complex than others, but most include at least three different data types: hospitals, consultants and treatments/conditions.

All three data types are connected, like this:

It’s this connected database that powers a website’s search function. On some sites, these connections are only in the “backend” so you can’t see them. On others, they’re more visible to site visitors. For example, your web profile may display links to the hospital’s webpages for the treatments/conditions relevant to your practice. Like this:

What this means for you

If few patients are coming to you through your hospital web profile, it could be because it hasn’t been linked to the relevant treatment/conditions in the backend of the website. So if you’re an ENT surgeon and your profile isn’t connected to “thyroid surgery”, your profile won’t be shown in a patient’s search results when they search for that treatment.

And if you’re not in the search results, a patient won’t find you – let alone book you!

Bear in mind it’s not enough to just include the phrase “thyroid surgery” in the bio/personal statement section of your profile. Most website search functions aren’t sophisticated enough to look at what you’ve written when deciding whether to show your profile in a patient’s search results. Setting up a proper link between your profile and “thyroid surgery” is key.

And configuring your profile correctly isn’t just about increasing the number of patients who find you – it’s also about getting in front of the right patients too. Here are a couple of real-life examples to help illustrate my point.

1. Consultant rheumatologist not seeing enough private patients

When I was a hospital marketing manager, I met with a consultant rheumatologist who said they weren’t seeing enough private patients. When I looked at their hospital web profile, it became clear it wasn’t going to work for them at all. Why? Because it had just one treatment/condition listed – arthritis.

This meant that if a patient searched for a consultant to help them with gout, polymyalgia rheumatica or calcium crystal diseases – all bread and butter for a rheumatologist – they weren’t appearing in the search results. They were missing out on all those potential patients who could’ve been a good fit for them.

After discussing which of the available treatments/conditions their profile could link to, we were able to add another eight – increasing the consultant’s visibility to patients and, inevitably, their number of bookings.

2. Lack of private appointments for a particular treatment/condition

I met with a surgeon who told me they weren’t seeing enough patients for foot surgery. As with the example above, this was very much their bread and butter, and a service they wanted their practice to be all about.

To try and understand why, the consultant searched for “foot surgery” on their hospital’s website and found that they didn’t appear in the search results.

Armed with that information, it was an easy fix to get that treatment linked to their web profile. Now, the consultant has increased their visibility – and chances of being booked – among patients looking for their key offering.

How to make sure your web profile is set up correctly

Just like the first article of this series – Are you cannibalising your private clinic slots? – the solution is really simple.

In fact, many of the things that could be hindering your private practice are straightforward to fix – it’s just knowing how, or even recognising the problems in the first place.

When it comes to your hospital web profile, try these:

1. Give creating and reviewing your hospital web profile your full attention

When you first join a private hospital, you’ll probably be asked to complete a form so the marketing or website team can create a web profile for you. Occasionally, you may be asked to review your existing profile to ensure it’s still up to date and accurate.

The form will ask you to select all treatments and conditions that are relevant to your practice. It can be easy for your eyes to glaze over at the sight of the long lists! But as we’ve seen, linking your profile to all relevant treatments and conditions is essential to getting found by patients. You could have the best written profile in the land, but it’s completely wasted if nobody’s reading it.

So make sure you’ve selected every single relevant condition and treatment.2.

2. “Be the patient” and test regularly

Keep hold of your completed web profile form and use it as the basis of a testing plan. Search for consultants at your hospital that offer each of the treatments you selected. If you don’t appear in the search results, ask your hospital marketing manager to fix it.

Separately, try navigating around the hospital website as if you were a patient (or ask a colleague or friend to do it). If you’re a gastroenterologist, search through all the gastroenterology pages. Are there pages where you’d expect to see yourself? Are there pages for treatments or conditions that weren’t on the form? Then put yourself in the shoes of a patient who doesn’t know you and try to find your profile. What might they search for? If you have any trouble, let the hospital marketing manager know.

3. Check in with your hospital marketing manager

Lastly, ask the marketing manager to go through your profile with you to make sure it’s set up correctly, and review it on a six-monthly or annual basis. It’s easy to stick an appointment or reminder in your calendar. In fact, do it now, before you forget!

Ask them:

  • if there have been any recent changes to the hospital’s website that may affect your profile visibility
  • if there are any new treatments/conditions relevant to your specialty

By following these simple tips and knowing how hospital websites work, you can be confident your web profile is getting in front of potential patients who are looking for what you have to offer.

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