Blogging for patients

Right now, Technorati is tracking some 200 million active blogs on the ‘net (up from a mere 112 million in 2007). Some say the number worldwide is really closer to 400 million.

start your blog todayThere’s no way to tell how many of these are being run by chiropractors and other natural health care practitioners, but Googling Chiropractor OR Chiropractic results in some 16 million hits. Add the word “blog” to your search words and you still get 1,810,000 results. Obviously, a lot of people are talking about chiropractic — and a lot of chiropractors are talking to people via the pages of a website or blog.

But can having a blog really attract new patients and build a more success practice?

Of course. ANYTHING you do that helps gets the chiropractic message out to people in your area, and gets your NAME in front of them, can increase patient volume and retention. If you stand on the street corner in a clown suit handing out business cards, eventually you’ll hand one to someone who’ll end up being a patient. If you print up 10,000 flyers and superglue them on every car windshield in the entire shopping mall parking lot, you’ll get a new patient or two out of it.

The question isn’t whether a particular marketing strategy will bring in new patients. It’s whether that marketing strategy is worth the time, money and effort it takes, and if the ultimate result will be more patients. The clown suit trick will get you a new patient — but probably lose you 20 current patients who see you and decide not to return. The superglue tactic will get you a new patient but it’ll be the most expensive patient you ever attracted (especially after you figure in the lawsuits for ruining people’s windshields).

Blogs CAN bring in new patients, because they give you an opportunity to put a human face on your office, to communicate regularly with both current and potential patients, to tell the chiropractic story (however you feel it should be told), show off new staff or equipment in a non-advertising manner, and position yourself as a caring and active member of your community.

Health care consumers are increasingly turning to the Internet for help in making their health decisions, including which practitioner to go to. It’s not the ONLY factor in their decision, but it’s a major one. According to the latest report from Manhattan Research — a health care market research company — the Internet now has far more influence over consumer health decisions and actions than traditional channels like print, TV, and radio (“Health Influence Mapping: Benchmarking the Influence of Various Sources on Consumer Health Actions,” Feb. 2010)

So, being on the Internet is almost a must today. But blogging is something different. It’s far more time consuming than many people realize, since content has to be added frequently (at least once a week). The content also has to be “fresh” and personal. And it has to be written carefully so that you don’t say something that will get you in trouble with your board. Sloppiness in spelling and grammar or even the formatting of your page can turn potential patients away. After all, if you aren’t careful about your own blog, will you be careful with their health?

You’ll also need to either turn the “comments” function off or monitor comments carefully. Robot spammers WILL get to your site within weeks of it going live and you need to make sure that your blog doesn’t get cluttered with crap.

You also have to make a long-term commitment to keeping the blog. If someone goes to your blog and it’s either no longer there or hasn’t been updated in several months, the natural assumption is that you’ve closed your office. Click. They’re on to the next hit on the list. Same thing if your site doesn’t load properly or if it’s hard to navigate. Click.

Luckily, blogs are pretty inexpensive and, with blogging software like WordPress, they’re far easier to use than “real” sites. (TIP: Host your blog on your own web hosting company. To be successful, you have to appear successful to the world and having a “freebie” blog on the wordpress or servers looks amateurish to many.)

Before you begin, make sure you understand what’s really involved. If it’s something you might really enjoy doing (or have a talented staff member who can do it for you), it might be worth a try. Just don’t go into it thinking your blog will “go viral” and you’ll attract new patients by the hundreds.

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I think its important to understand that the return on blogging for chiropractic may not always be new patients, sometime it is just a step closer to universal acceptance of chiropractic.
The day everyone truly understands what chiropractic truely is and engages others about care, then the major hurdle to chiropractic growing will be removed.

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