This article is part of the Power of Patient Journeys series. In this series, we will illustrate four foundational ideas for creating and utilizing the compelling narratives of your patients. As the industry develops, we will continue to update these guides. You can keep up with those changes by signing up for our newsletter.
Here are the parts:
Part 1: Gaining New Patients Through Expert Storytelling
Part 2: Solving the 3 Modern Content Problems
Part 3: Six Questions to Determine if Patient Journeys Are Right for You
Part 4: Choosing the Right Patients
Table of Contents
Look, it’s no secret that humans are storytellers. It is probably one of our most universally binding characteristics. It breaches cultural divides and continues to evolve as our world changes around us.
Old news, right?
But have you ever considered that humans are, to an even much greater degree, story consumers?
Behind every single story told, there is an exponential number of people who are consuming the story.
And if we know that there is this neverending, insatiable need for stories, why not tell one?
But hold on there just a second — despite your delusions of grandeur, your story is not the one that the masses are clamoring for on bated breath. (Sorry, not sorry.)
When we are looking at your practice through a marketing lens, it is easy to get caught up in making all the content about ourselves as we do our best to differentiate.
After all, you have been told by so many that you must constantly market yourself and stand out at any cost. You are non-stop marketing your skills, experiences, expertise, personalities, brands — virtually everything about you.
Yes, that stuff is important, but we have to realize that, at the end of the day, your medical practice’s marketing is not really about… well, you. (gasp, clutches pearls.)
It is (and always will be) about the patient. And what is the number one question every single patient asks before they commit to a procedure by you?
“How have you helped people who are similar to me?”
(Don’t get us wrong, you should tell your story and all things that make you human. It just doesn’t always have to be the focus.)
Even before they sit in your office, and even before they ask you those questions, you know the answer. You know how many times you have done the rhinoplasty procedure she is looking for, on people just like her. You know how much time you have practiced that special technique that gets you podium time at the next plastic surgery conference. And most importantly, you know how happy your patients are when they see the result.
But your potential patient can’t read your mind – and they weren’t there when you took the bandages off the hundreds of other happy patients. But what if they could be?
Patient Journey, Defined
Before we get into why they are important, let’s talk a bit about what Patient Journeys are.
A patient journey is a long-form narrative that tells the story of what a real patient went through. In short, it is their experience through their aesthetic process at your practice. It includes a procedure that you offer at your practice and starts with identifying a potential patient – your protagonist of the story so to speak. We ask them to meet with one of our writers for an interview if they would like to be featured.
During this interview, the writer will seek out the knitty gritty about how their condition affected them and how their quality of life changed once the procedure was complete.
Details about how the staff made them feel and why they would recommend your practice are also covered. If necessary, follow-up questions are exchanged between the writer, your office and the patient.
Those notes are then used to write a compelling narrative about that particular patient’s journey through whatever service they had performed. For the best results, the story is anchored with before and after photos and videos and laced with patient success.
This formula — equal parts art and science — provides vast amounts of value to your potential patients who are simply wondering if you can help them.
But not all PJs are suited for a third-person narrative. Some work best by facilitating a first-person perspective, while others might benefit from using a different medium entirely.
(Video, photo and audio are huge tools in your toolbox. The best tool just depends on the job your marketing team is trying to accomplish.)
If you are hyped to produce some Patient Journey
content in these other formats…. stay tuned.
We have some good info in the pipeline.
Do You Really Understand the Value of a Good Story?
There are a lot of things I have yet to do. I have yet to run with the bulls in Pamplona. I have yet to force battle with a Sith lord, and I have not yet ridden atop a dragon who is raining down hellfire on King’s Landing. (Spoiler alert.)
That does not, however, mean that I have not understood the impact of those situations and been able to put myself there mentally.
After all, all of these are examples of good stories we have heard about, read or watched that transport you to a place you’ve never been.
So, what does a good story look like? And how can we tell them in a way that answers the questions of your potential patient before they even walk through your door?
Let’s try something out. I am going to name a story, and you are going to make note of the first thoughts that pop into your head.
Go ahead, take a minute.
When you read this title, what popped into your head? Thousands of pages on the histories or geography of Middle Earth? A literary criticism about the use of the “Road” they traveled on as a metaphor?
If you actually thought about that last one…
congratulations on your literature degree.
I’m betting that you thought about the hobbits Frodo and, hopefully, Sam, who was by the way, the real hero of that story. Maybe it was Gandalf the Gray (Fly you fools!) or the deformed Hobbit, Gollum. What about the ever-stoic and eternally brooding Aragorn’s star-crossed love with Arwen?
If you haven’t caught on yet, the idea here is that the secret sauce that makes this story a perennial favorite isn’t necessarily the setting that they are placed in or the plot devices used to tell the story.
After all, no one would really give a damn if you narrated an average Joe walking up to a volcano and dropping an old ring in it.
But make Joe a Hobbit of low expectations and tell the story of how his simple, good nature is able to decide the battle between good and evil and NOW you have a story — nay, a journey — that people will remember.
Do you personally deal with the balancing act of good versus evil every day? Probably not, so how do you do that? The answer is simple: you write about the journeys of your own lead characters… your patients!
Do You Understand the Value of the Patient Experience?
Having your own protagonists is great because when it boils down, telling the stories of your patients is compelling on an emotional level. But it also does something else: it provides an invaluable take on the patient experience.
We probably aren’t the first ones to harp on you about the importance of giving patients a good experience. Google, Yelp, Facebook and other review aggregates are reminders enough that you need to be aware of the impression you are giving every single patient at every single moment. It sounds exhausting, but the health and growth of your practice depends on it.
In 2021, the Beryl Institute released a study titled Consumer Perspectives on Patient Experience. That report illustrates some remarkable data that points directly to what we’ve been trying to tell you all along: people care about what it’s like to come to your medical practice.
According to the report, 95% of people say having a good experience is “very important” or “extremely important” in their medical care.
With that overwhelming majority of patients caring so much about what it’s like to go through a medical procedure with you, demonstrating that your practice is the place to be should be a top priority.
Sure, you could probably try to achieve this on a rudimentary level with reviews or snippets of endorsements, but very seldom are you given the opportunity to have a potential patient sit down with someone who has spent time with you and tell them all the reasons that they really are making the best decision by entrusting their aesthetic healthcare to your aesthetic practice. Patient journeys allow for that opportunity.
The same report from Beryl Institute found that 50% of consumers will tell family, friends or others about their experience — regardless of whether it was good or bad.
Then, we get into the word-of-mouth factor. Half of the patients you see, regardless of how breathtaking or disastrous they consider their experience to be, will be telling people they know about you, your work and your practice.
Now for the most important number…
49% of people trust online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations.
What if you could harness the power of a word-of-mouth recommendation and use it anytime someone visited your site? We will dive deeper into this idea in Part Two of this series. If your run-of-the-mill Google review matters that much to people, imagine how impactful a patient journey could be.
Persuading Patients Into Your Practice
Let’s explore the concept of persuasion in a way that everyone can understand: as a skill check in the ever-popular Dungeons and Dragons tabletop game. If you want your character to do something, you have to roll a 20-sided dice to see if you are successful. The higher the roll, the better your chances of persuading that person (or Demogorgon) to do something.
Am I really making D&D analogies to
a bunch of medical professionals?
Man, high school me would be so proud.
Let’s say you wanted to persuade a patient to come into your practice. If this were a D&D game, the Dungeon Master would tell you to roll your dice. You have two approach options. You can 1) tell them to read your procedure page on the treatment they are interested in, or you can 2) ask them to read one of your Patient Journeys.
Since we are in pretend-land right now, let’s run both scenarios.
You tell the patient that there is a lot of useful information available on your webpage that can probably answer most of their questions and give them a full information rundown on the procedure they are interested in.
Roll a 20-sided dice.
Oof. You rolled a 10.
Turns out, this particular patient is not very susceptible to standard marketing. They use it as an information tool, but what they (like 95% of the population) will really be basing their decision on is the experience that your office can provide.
Unfortunately, you failed your roll. And that potential patient has now exited the front door and on their way to the next practice.
You tell the potential patient that they can read the full experience of one of your previous patients on your website.
Roll a 20-sided dice.
OH, BABY. A NATURAL 20.
This is as good as it gets. Not only does the patient get the basic information about the procedure, but they also get to hear about how one of your patients’ lives was completely changed for the better after seeing you. They know now that you put a ton of time into making each person feel comfortable and that you don’t pressure them into additional treatment they don’t want.
Congratulations, you succeeded in your role — that patient just booked a consultation and is ready to get the process rolling.
D&D metaphor aside, human connection like you find in a Patient Journey is persuasive in a way that traditional marketing and advertising can struggle to achieve. They are seen as more trustworthy, more genuine, and remarkably more applicable to the viewer’s life.
Is Any of This Worth It?
Ok, maybe you didn’t have the time to read all of this, and you just want the TL;DR.
Here it is: Are patient journeys worth it?
- Yes, because it means that you will not only have more engaging content on your site, but that content will do better at keeping people on your site and building a relationship with your brand. (i.e., more patients.)
- Yes, because it means that the amount of traffic you can drive from social media and email marketing grows exponentially. (i.e., more patients.)
- Yes, because it means that for absolutely no compromise to the things that make Google love your site, you can increase the total number of patients who dial the phone or send a message to your office. (i.e., more patients.)
- Yes, because it means in a world where thousands of practices are clawing for every potential patient who touches a smartphone or computer, you can differentiate yourself as a trustworthy option. (i.e., more patients.)
- And yes, because it means you can tell the actual story of how you change lives at your practice without the concern of coming off like a sales pitch. (i.e., more patients.)
To put it simply, you answer the question “can you help me” before they ever walk through the door with a resounding YES!
Let Us Be Your Gandalf
We got away from our Lord of the Rings metaphor for a bit, but that’s okay, we can circle back.
The Fellowship of the Ring was a whopping three hours long. Did people scoff at the midway point and walk out of theaters?
They sat their butts in their chairs, grabbed another handful of popcorn and watched. Because that movie gave them a line-up of interesting people to care about.
Give your would-be patients someone to care about, someone who was in their shoes, who had the same fears and concerns, someone who had as much to gain as they do, and you will find that the number of people interested in your practice will grow.
You are gifted with the scalpel or needle, with an art for all things body, skin and aesthetics. Our artistry is the story and how to market you, and our tools are the keyboard and the knowledge of the algorithm. You do you, and let us do us. Let us tell your patient’s stories to help get new patients into your practice.
As usual, our educators are here to answer any questions you have, anytime, for free. Give us a call at (800) 949-0133 or schedule a one-on-one.
In Part 2 of this series, we will explain how Patient Journeys solve 3 of the most difficult problems that modern content faces.