How to Use Google Micro-Moments to Increase Your Presence in Local Searches by Patients

Google came out with a recent study that says 90% of smartphone users aren’t certain what brand (or provider) they want to go with when they begin an Internet search, and 65% of prospective customers (or patients) look for the most relevance in search results, regardless of the brand.  “People are more loyal to the their need in the moment than any particular brand,” the study states.

For private practices looking to grow patient volume, you have the ability to win (or lose) patients based on how present you are in local online searches. Google suggests that the accumulation of “micro-moments,” or critical touches, with your potential patients during their online journey will determine whether they end up at your practice. Let’s take a closer look at these micro-moments.

Understanding Patients’ Micro-Moments

So how can you use this study to turn website traffic into increased appointments? The first step is understanding the types of micro-moments based on the needs of patients.

Patient Needs

Resulting Micro-moments

I want to know who to make an appointment with.

Patients reach for their smartphones to make an appointment with a doctor.

I want to find to the best physician.

Patients look up a doctor’s name that matches their insurance/referral or by searching specialty and location.

I want to schedule a convenient appointment.

Patients look for a doctor with a location close to them that they can easily schedule.

I want to go to the physician’s office

Patients look up contact information to easily go to the correct address and follow up with the doctor/office staff if needed.

Example of Micro-Moment Touchpoints With Patients

Whether your practice is looking to increase your volume of patients or decrease no shows, being present at these micro–moments determine whether patients show up for an appointment or go to another provider.

77% of patients search online prior to booking an appointment and 91 percent of users will leave a mobile site if it doesn’t satisfy their needs (for example, to find information or navigate quickly).

Micro-moment 1: I need a doctor

Let’s say Brent, our patient, goes to his primary care provider for knee pain and is told he needs to see an orthopedic specialist for further evaluation. His doctor gives him a list of doctors in the area recommended by his practice. What does Brent do? He pulls out his phone and begins to Google the doctors on his list.

As he searches, other specialists show up in the search. To show up at the top of these search results in this scenario, you can begin by making sure you have the right information on you home page. Also, according to Google’s study, search results will favor websites that are optimized for mobile -- in speed and user experience. Want to know how your practice website stacks up? Test your website here.

Also be sure to claim a free profile to start promoting your practice on healthcare sites that have online scheduling. 

Micro-moment 2: I want to find the best doctor

As most people do nowadays, Brent begins a comparison between the doctors he searches. The first doctor is about a mile from his office but only has three star reviews, so he moves on to the next one. The second doctor has 4.5 stars with five reviews, but there are two phone numbers shown and he isn’t sure which one to call. He moves on. Going down the search list, Brent finds a doctor close to his house--four stars with 42 reviews and all his practice information is displayed on Google Local. It’s looking good for this orthopedic specialist.

51% of smartphone users have discovered a new company when conducting a search on their smartphones. What a patient sees when they search determines the choices they will make in the lifecycle of micro-moments.

Micro-moment 3: I want to schedule a convenient appointment

Brent is running around on a busy day, so while he’s in his Lyft right home from his primary care doctor, he chooses the specialist that fits all his needs, has a close location, many 5 star reviews, and offers the ability to schedule an appointment from his phone. He's given the option to click and make an appointment right there, so he takes care of it.

Nearly, 30% of smartphone users will immediately go to another practice’s mobile site if they don’t see what they need, according to the study.

Micro-moment 4: I want to go to the physician’s office

A few days later Brent is running in and out of meetings at work and realizes he has to go to his orthopedic appointment. He quickly grabs his phone to search for the address. It comes up instantly and he heads to the doctor’s office.

1 in 3 smartphone users move forward with a practice other than the one they intended to because of information that they needed provided in the moment.

Interested in seeing if your practice data appears correctly across the web? You can scan your practice using this online profile manager.

To sum up, here are some steps to optimizing your online presence for the modern patient so that you show up in patients’ micro-moments:

  • Check your website for mobile optimization here.
  • Generate reviews from your most valued patients.
  • Scan and correct your practice’s listings.
  • Create your free online provider profile. 

Want help? Talk to Kareo Solutions Consultant to assess your practice website and its readiness for patient micro-moments. 

About the Author

Emily has worked with many small companies growing their businesses through online marketing.

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