Why You Need to Be Listed on Healthcare Directories
You Can Reach More Potential Patients
Simply having a presence on an online directory will help you reach a large audience of potential patients. The popular directory Healthgrades.com estimates that approximately 1 million people use their site each day to connect with healthcare providers. (2)
While not all of those site users will see your listing—because they may not be in your geographic area or because they aren’t searching for rehabilitation services—you’re still guaranteed exposure to a lot of potential clients.
To further boost the likelihood that potential patients find you, you should emphasize listings in local business directories. Google is certainly the most popular search engine, and its algorithm prioritizes local business listings, particularly when a patient searches for something like “hand therapist near me”. (3,4)
Local businesses like yours are ranked in Google’s search results according to their relevance to the patient’s search, their distance from the patient’s zip code, and their overall prominence. (5) Simply by creating a Google My Business profile for your practice, you immediately establish a presence in Google Search and Google Maps, which are common tools patients will use when searching for a local provider. (5)
Each Listing Increases your Digital Footprint
Since online prominence is a key driver of your rankings in search engines, you should be aiming to increase your footprint in the virtual space. By having a listing for your practice on multiple directory sites, you can quickly grow your online presence.
Be cautious, however, about creating multiple listings in the same directory: though it may be tempting to create separate listings for “Jane Doe, Orthopedic Physical Therapist” and “Jane Doe, Sports Physical Therapist” to reach more patients, near-duplicates like this can actually interfere with your search engine rankings. (6) This can also simply confuse patients, who may think they’ve found two different providers.
You Can Quickly Respond to Online Reviews of your Practice
One you have established an online presence as a healthcare provider, it’s important to consider how you maintain and manage that presence. Even just one or two negative reviews can tarnish your reputation in a potential patient’s eyes; however, responding to each negative comment—in a kind and compassionate manner—can help to humanize you and show that you truly care. (7)
Similarly, you should take the time to thank patients who have used their free time to leave you a positive review: this demonstrates your dedication to your existing patient population, and it inspires the confidence of potential patients. (7)
How to Design a Directory Listing that Stands Out
The first step in establishing a presence on healthcare directories is to claim and correct any existing listings in your name or your practice’s name. (4,8) Have you ever Googled your own name with your clinical credentials? Odds are, you’ll end up with a list of mostly blank listings on sites like Healthgrades, ZocDoc, and Vitadox.
While empty listings aren’t necessarily bad, they won’t draw a potential patient’s eye. Who are you more likely to trust with your own care: a physician with a detailed educational history, a professional C.V., and multiple patient reviews, or a provider who seems more like a ghost?
With luck, your existing listings will be neutral without any negative reviews. However, if there are some lurking detractors out there, it behooves you to be aware so you can address their concerns in a timely fashion. (7)
Your second task is to list the basic data that will allow patients to find you easily. (3) Some key details to include:
- The name of your practice/business
- A brief description of your specialty
- Keep it short! For example: Pediatric Occupational Therapist specializing in Sensory Processing Disorder
- The physical address of your business (or the area in which you travel to provide care)
- Your hours of operation by the day
- Contact information: phone number, email, and website
- A recent, professional photograph to help patients put a face to the name
If you have extra space and the directory site allows, you may also choose to include some basic information on the services you offer, pricing, and any special certifications or training you have that will differentiate you from the competition. (3) While it is unlikely to significantly change how the search engine views your profile, a short biography can help patients gain confidence in you and your practice. (9)
Directories to Prioritize When Creating Listings
By now, you likely recognize the value of listing your practice on online health directories, but you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the options that exist for doing so. It’s not feasible or worthwhile to try to list yourself on every possible directory. Instead, prioritize a few key sites that are most likely to attract significant numbers of clients who are looking for your specific services.
Here are few key directory sites that are likely to get you the most bang for your proverbial buck (bonus: these sites are all free!):
- This site sees a ton of traffic from provider-seeking patients, and allows patients to search by location and provider specialty (HG influence)
- General local business directories like Yelp and Google My Business
- We’ve already discussed how search engines prioritize local business sites, so listing here increases your changes of appearing near the top of the search results (PTS)
- Medicare’s Physician Compare
- Despite the name, this directory allows patients to search for a wide variety of clinicians, and it is specific to those who accept Medicare
- For physical therapists: APTA’s Find a PT
- Unfortunately, the AOTA does not yet have an equivalent OT-specific directory
- Specialty-focused sites through your professional organization(s)
- If you’re looking to market to a specific patient population, consider listing on specialty sites for your area of interest. For example, the APTA’s Academy of Pelvic Health and the Herman & Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute both host directories that are specific to pelvic PTs, so listing there means you’re more likely to attract patients looking for pelvic health specialists.
Now that you’re armed with the basic knowledge about healthcare directories and how they can help grow your practice, get out there and start listing!