Technology is always changing and trying to incorporate everything into your bariatric practice is difficult and often a waste of time. When the next ‘new thing’ is launched, the technology you’ve just spent hours learning gets tossed aside. Remember MySpace?
Instead of always playing catch-up, this article discusses 3 technologies that are here to stay. Each of the technologies below are inexpensive, easy to set-up and provide an immediate benefit to your patients or your bariatric practice.
1. Secret Facebook Groups As Online Support Groups
Patient success is directly linked to the level of support the patient receives from friends and family after surgery. Its also important that patients connect soon after surgery with other people who have had a bariatric procedure. This support is a critical aspect of a patient’s long-term success.
An in-person support group is a great way to meet new people, stay connected and discuss issues. But everyone does not have an hour or two twice a month to attend support group meetings. What about patients that live out of town or move?
Do you already have an online support group? Online support groups are a convenient way to provide your patients with the support they need without all of the physical restrictions an in-person support group requires. Your patients can ask a question to the group when the question arises. Your patients can seek help when they feel they need it rather than waiting for this month’s support group.
But many online support groups are not used. Why?
- Patients don’t have the time or desire to access a new website, remember a new password, create a new log-in.
- Its not personal. Part of what makes an in-person support group great is the ability to make new friends. When you are just a username asking a question, you are not likely to get a response.
What is a Secret Facebook Group?
There are 3 types of Facebook Groups
- Public – Anyone can see the group and anyone can join. When you join the group all of your friends are notified in their news feed and its listed in your groups section.
- Private – Anyone can see the group but you must be invited to join. When you join the group all of your friends are notified in their news feed and its listed in your groups section.
- Secret – These groups do not appear in search results and cannot be seen by anyone unless you’ve been invited to join the group. When you join the group, nobody is notified and they do not show up in your groups section. They are literally secret.
Secret Facebook groups make the best online support group for a number of reasons.
- Almost everyone uses Facebook. Every time a user logs in to Facebook its easy to quickly check the support group.
- Its easy to invite patients to join. All that’s needed is a name or email address to invite patients to join.
- People do not want everyone to know they’re considering or have had weight loss surgery.
- It puts a name and face to the person that is asking a question and responding. People actually make friends over Facebook.
- Because there is a name and face to posters there are less people that post nasty messages. The community generally regulates this on their own.
2. Use A Custom Smartphone App To Help Your Patients
More than 50% of the US population has a Smartphone (typically its either an iPhone or Android-based phone). And once you’ve had a Smartphone, its not likely that you’ll ever go back to living without one. Within the next few years the percent of people with a SmartPhone will rise to 80% as older phones are phased out.
What is a custom Smartphone App?
A custom Smartphone App is a software application (commonly known as an App) that runs on a Smartphone (Iphone and/or Android-based phones). The App is branded and customized for your bariatric practice or bariatric hospital. The App has your logo, colors, and information about your surgeons, practice, and procedures that you offer.
The bariatric practice or hospital pays a monthly fee for the App. Then the App is offered for free in the major App Stores (Itunes and Google Play). Prospective patients and current patients can download the App for free and learn about your practice.
What’s in it for my patients and my practice?
BariApps creates custom Smartphone Apps specifically for bariatric practices and hospitals. These Apps incorporate tools specifically designed to help bariatric patients. They include:
- Weight Loss Trackers.
- Online Support Groups (Read number one and incorporate your new support group into your new App).
- Request Appointments.
- Ask the Dietitian.
- Much more.
Once you’ve put your practice in your patients pocket you’re more likely to keep your patients connected and motivated. BariApps has a function that reminds patients to take pictures along their way to document their weight loss. This encourages sharing and drives new referrals.
3. Pay Per Click Advertising To Grow Your Business
If you haven’t started advertising online you should be. The first place people go to research bariatric surgery is Google. If your practice or hospital is listed 10th when someone types in “Weight loss surgery + ‘your city'” then you will get 40% less visitors to your site than the person listed first.
Its not easy or quick to change Google rankings. But you can pay to be near the top.
What is pay per click advertising?
When someone does a Google search the first three websites listed are paid (sponsored) listings. There are also a list of websites to the right of the results that are paid listings. Try searching Google for, ‘bariatric surgery in San Francisco.’ The listings up top are Pay Per Click listings. The bariatric surgeons pay a small price every time someone clicks on their link. They usually set a daily limit on how much they want to spend (so there is no risk of spending too much) and then how much they are willing to spend per click (Google Adwords offers price per click suggestions).
Use Facebook ads to target your customer
Facebook offers pay per click advertising and they are often cheaper then advertising on Google. Facebook pay per click ads give you the ability to target your market easily. You could target females in your city age 30 to 50 and pay a few dollars per click. Limit your daily spend to $50 dollars and attract 20 new prospects to your website per day.
Tips on pay per click advertising
- Target only the people that will likely become customers
- Don’t pay to show up every time someone searches for bariatric surgery. Instead set your keywords for weight loss surgery in your city.
- Adwords is easy to learn. Watch their instructional videos.
- Set daily limits.
- Test regularly what is working and what is not.