5 tech trends for 2016
By Stephane LaverdiereFeatures Business Technology
Plus, social media tips to boost your online presence
The increasing consumer demand for patient-driven health care is demonstrating the need for chiropractors to continue to engage their patients on their terms. The focus of Canada’s growing aging population has shifted from traditional health care to staying healthy through preventive measures. This subtle shift combined with patient demand to manage their own health care will continue to influence the way chiropractors connect and engage their patients.
Incorporate these trends to cultivate an authentic patient experience and watch your practice grow.
1. Customizable software to meet compliance standards. A paperless office solution that allows clients to update condition as an active stakeholder in achieving optimal health is a must. The trend to provide a unique, custom health record, with patient input will continue into 2016. Chiropractors should ensure their record keeping system gives the patient the ability to update their information, subjective complaint and initial intake form. In Ontario, proposed clinic regulation suggests that a practitioner should consider the benefits of a full electronic health record (EHR) paperless system that provides a clear, transparent billing process, protects patient privacy and ensures compliance. Chiropractic offices will also need to comply and have a privacy impact assessment in place (PIA). The PIA is the process of business owners and custodians reviewing and documenting the flow of information, administrative practice or information system collection, use and disclosure of individually identifying personal and health information. The increase in audits in chiropractic offices across the country indicates a top-down push for privacy compliance and better notes, which clearly show functional assessment outcomes. This trend will continue to escalate in 2016 with the anticipated requirement for chiropractors to comply with new proposed regulation. Your software provider must meet the challenge and be fully customizable to comply with regional health legislation.
2. Text messaging system. An active SMS gateway is utilized to decrease no-shows. Here are some texting statistics that prove businesses need to take SMS seriously. As of September 2015, 97 per cent of Americans are texting at least once a day. Worldwide texts in 2015 hit 8.3 trillion – that’s 23 billion messages per day or almost 16 million messages per minute. Text messaging has a 98 per cent open rate, compared to only 20 per cent for emails. Text messaging has a 45 per cent response rate compared to six per cent with email. Best of all, 90 per cent of text messages are read in under three minutes and on average under five seconds compared to 90 minutes for email. We have seen a surge in text messaging use in chiropractic offices in 2015 and the trend will continue in 2016. In fact, 74 per cent of patients indicate they would like to receive appointment reminders via email or text, according to a 2013 Accenture study. Adapting to your patient contact preference will save your office time and money.
3. Engage your patients through social media. Which social media platforms should represent your brand? Ask your patients through a survey in your next newsletter to find out which platforms your patients use. Build your social media presence where the majority of your patients engage.
Here are some things you can do as you market through social media:
- Post photos, questions, insightful stats and facts, as well as links to articles of interest to your patients
- Run a timeline contest
- Utilize “boost post” feature on Facebook. Create a custom audience from your current patient roster and target your local area to reach potential patients
- Add your phone number in the “About” section as well as in your posts. Every post should have a “call to action” and include your phone number.
To thrive, you must engage. Social channels are a sign of dedication to transparency, accountability and even customer service. Patients recognize this and expect to see a brand engaging on Facebook or Twitter. Even though “silent patients” may not add comments or likes (value), they are still watching. People respond to brand messages that are relevant to them. Understanding your patients – what drives their interest in their own health experience – will guide your understanding on how best to market to your patient base.
Social media engagement should be about nurturing your relationship with your patient not “selling” your service. Fully engaged patients have an “emotional” connection to your practice and if their belief system is aligned with your brand, they will act as your best fan, sharing your brand with family friends and coworkers.
Don’t write off connecting through emerging social platforms dominated by Millennials, such as Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope.
Consider a Facebook offer campaign and use “Twitter Coupons” to increase your conversion.
Social media tools have search functions that allow you to search for your ideal chiropractic clients. Twitter, allows you to monitor topics using keywords and #hashtags. Type in “back pain” “chiropractor” “your town” in the search box to see who are talking about it. Ideal clients can be those suffering in pain and also those who have experienced a car accident or sport injury. You can see when people talk about those kinds of things online and invite them in for a complimentary assessment.
4. Turn patient satisfaction into a referral. In 2016, the preferred method of finding trusted referrals is people seeking out recommendations from their friends and family on Twitter and Facebook.
Referrals have become an important part of the practice growth strategy. Integrated tools and apps make it easy for your patient to become your biggest fan and help grow your business. Integrated review and referral software propagate verified patient reviews to your social media platforms and your website, with the option to share to their own timeline and friends. Online reviews also affect your website’s ranking in local search. Most experts agree, search engine algorithms use “review signals” which include review quantity, quality, velocity and diversity to page rank your website. If your patients are consistently adding reviews on a regular basis with varied content and seem authentic, it will help your practice stand out in local search.
5. Optimize your website. Optimization is an ongoing process – not just a one-time step. Create a proactive marketing strategy that includes leveraging social media, search marketing and using Google+ to boost your SEO. Google+ directly affects your SEO and you can increase your rating by:
- completing your basic information, such as hours of operation, map, website URL and phone numbers on Google+ Local page
- uploading photos and updates on an ongoing basis
- creating and sharing video content via Youtube (Google owned) and Google+
- interacting with target local audience via hangouts and chat tools in order to interact, engage and influence
Two out of three Canadians interact through social media. A 2015 study conducted by Forum Research indicates that Facebook is still the top social network in Canada, followed by LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. As a chiropractor, your main objective is to increase the number of referrals and clients. Growing your local social media presence will establish you as your community’s leading authority in chiropractic health care and help your practice thrive.
Look to implement some of these five trends in 2016, enjoy practice and thrive.
Dr. Stephane Laverdiere, DC, is a 1995 graduate of National College of Chiropractic. He opened and managed three successful practices. He is co-founder of Atlas Chiropractic System, an innovative world-class paperless office system. He enjoys pioneering the features that will be used by chiropractors worldwide. He lives in Ontario, and is interested in organic sustainable living and everything it entails.
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