Online Search and the Patient Journey

Posted on Apr 13, 2021 by

The patient journey most often begins with using the internet to find a new doctor, and that means you need to show up in online search results if you want to attract new patients and grow your practice. 

Finding a doctor is the first step in a patient’s journey, and that process has matured with the digital age. Patients no longer rely exclusively on referrals from their primary care physician. The internet gives them access to the information necessary to find the best doctor to provide their care, and that’s where they turn to find a new doctor and/or vet the doctors they’ve been referred to. 

Online Search Stats

online search stats tell the story behind the patient journey

Google is the search engine of choice for most U.S. citizens, with 88.6% choosing Google over Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo. That means it’s especially important to show up on Google search when patients search for care online. 

Take a look at these other statistics that highlight the importance of online search in the patient journey: 

Your Digital Marketing Tools

digital marketing tools

To show up online you need to make sure you have the right tools at your disposal and that you are using them well. The patient journey begins online, therefore it is essential that you make the most of your online visibility so patients can see you when they search for medical care. Though not an exhaustive list, all of the following play a significant role in your visibility and will help you show up in online search:

Google My Business listing

Your GMB listing is free advertising provided by Google. Claim and optimize your listing to improve your chance of appearing in Google’s three-pack. Google has done a good job of cornering the market with online search. They work hard to provide everything a consumer is looking for so they can keep traffic on pages they own. Take advantage of the tools they freely offer to win their game and get seen when patients search for medical care in critical moments.  


Ask your patients to leave you a review, and make it easy for them by sending them a personalized text or email with a link. Having a growing number of reviews on your GMB listing will benefit you in two ways: 

  1. It shows Google that your listing is active and relevant, increasing the chance of the listing appearing in the three-pack of Local Search results. 
  2. The more reviews you have the more accurate your star rating will be (and that generally equates to a higher star rating). Every doctor receives an occasional negative review, but getting your silent majority of happy patients talking will mitigate the effects of any less-than-stellar reviews you receive. 

Since 94% of patients turn to online reviews in their search for a new doctor, it’s important for you to have current reviews that better reflect the high level of care you provide. 

Predictive analytics

Large hospital systems have used predictive analytics in their marketing campaigns for years, but the data sets have been cost prohibitive for small practices to consider. That has changed. Large data sets are now available to practices of any size. 

When consumers go online they leave a trail of information that is collected and used to predict their future behavior. You can see how effective it is every time it feels like Google or Facebook ads have read your mind. Data sets can be filtered and analyzed by predictive tools to find individuals at high risk for specific medical conditions. Once identified, you can focus your marketing spend directly on those at risk for the medical conditions you want to treat, making best use of your marketing spend. 

Targeted ads

Paid Google ads show up at the top of online search results. When paired with results of predictive analytics, you can focus on sending ads to high-risk people when they search online for medical care. Since the ads show up at the top of search results, this greatly increases your online visibility. If you have an ad show up and you also have your GMB listing in the Local Search three-pack, you’ve captured two of four prime spots. 

You can send Facebook and Instagram ads to targeted individuals as well, putting your ads in front of those high-risk people on multiple platforms. 

Call tracker

With the right platform and integrations in place, it is possible to track the calls that come in from your marketing efforts. Tracking the appointments made from your listing and your ads allows you to easily calculate your patient acquisition cost (PAC) and return on investment (ROI). 

How SocialClimb Can Help

Our platform integrates seamlessly with most practice management systems, putting the power in your hands to improve your visibility in online search so you can show up in the patient journey in critical moments. We’ll help you claim and optimize your GMB listings, gather reviews from your patients, find your ideal patients with our predictive analytics, send target ads, and track the results. And you can manage it all from a single location. 

We will guide you in fully automating your patient acquisition efforts, helping you grow your practice so you can remain independent. Please schedule a demo with one of our team members today by calling 866-338-8270 or click on the link below. 

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Posted in Automated Practice Marketing