Independent healthcare businesses are under a lot of pressure to stay competitive online with larger regional networks, which often means trying to do more with less. Continuous quality improvement and innovation means the healthcare industry is constantly transforming, often to the benefit of larger regional networks.
Although it can be difficult to keep pace with the regional healthcare companies, there are a number of things independent healthcare businesses can do to gain a competitive edge:
Have an Online Presence
The digital healthcare experience has evolved in tandem with the internet over the years, and it is more important than ever to ensure your independent business is meeting patient demands. Whether patients want to use Google, your website, an app, social media or an online portal, your healthcare business should have it covered. An overwhelming number of patients prefer to use online portals as their primary means of communication, and this number is sure to increase as time passes. A modern-looking website with consistent updates and frequent social media posts can also go a long way toward impressing patients. The shift from personal connections to digital connections is well under way, and independent healthcare businesses cannot afford to fall behind in this area.
It might seem like larger companies are better equipped to handle this preference shift, but 85% of healthcare executives aren’t confident that the technology they utilize can improve the customer experience.
Don’t Forget About Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
At first, it might seem futile to try to compete with larger regional healthcare networks for traffic through search engines, but SEO still offers plenty of value to independent businesses. General healthcare keywords tend to have very competitive rankings, and it isn’t realistic to think small, independent businesses can bypass more established website content.
However, independent healthcare businesses can find a lot of value in long tail keywords, which are longer phrases and much more specific. Long tail keywords tend to have a much lower search volume, but they also tend to have lower competition for search rankings as well. These keywords make it much easier for an independent healthcare facility to create content that can rank well, even though the overall search volume is low. The draw of these keywords is that they are more specific than generic keywords, so any resulting traffic is more likely to be valuable.
Outsource Work When Possible
By default, larger regional networks will always have more resources at their disposal than independent healthcare businesses. In certain situations, it might not be feasible for an independent business to have an employee or team dedicated to running the website, social media, or optimizing SEO. However, outsourcing these jobs could be a less expensive alternative that achieves the desired results. Working with an IT company or marketing company on a case by case basis makes much more sense for independent businesses.
Do What Larger Regional Networks Can’t
While it is important to compete with larger regional networks, there are some areas where it is beneficial to be an independent healthcare business. Larger organizations tend to have long-established processes and systems, so making significant changes in response to industry evolutions could take quite a while. On the other hand, independent businesses have fewer moving parts and can remain flexible enough to get a head start on the competition; this flexibility and agility is crucial to competing and growing as a business.
Another thing that independent healthcare businesses can manage that larger organizations cannot is cultivating a more personal and friendly atmosphere. The larger an organization is, the more difficult it is to maintain that status. Independent healthcare businesses should constantly work to accentuate the benefits of small healthcare providers. Customers are the most important asset of any company. It’s difficult to put a price on great customer service, and smaller businesses are naturally closer to the patients, so that is a major advantage.
On the surface, it looks like larger regional networks have huge advantages over independent healthcare businesses. However, there are a number of ways these smaller businesses can compete with – and perhaps even outperform – the larger networks. A well-planned out online presence can better position independent healthcare businesses for success now and in the future, and focusing on long tail keywords is a great way to ensure better search rankings.  Above all, understanding the benefits of having a flexible and agile business can ensure growth and success in a market with much larger companies.