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Patients Can Now Book A Doctor On Google

In our line of work, we’re always Googling doctors names.

Hey, just because we make marketing software doesn’t mean we don’t know how to do things the old school way 😉

All jokes aside, we do this every month for two primary reasons.

One, we like to see what patients see. Second, it helps us stay in front of the changes Google makes (which often go unannounced).

Last week while I was verifying some changes we pushed for a client, I found a new change that has the potential to greatly change how you and your practice think about the future of marketing on Google.

Book a Doctor Using ZocDoc or Healthgrades Right on Google

It use to be that if a patient wanted to book you through your Healthgrades or ZocDoc profile, the user would have to go to Healthgrades or ZocDoc directly, search for your profile, then book an appointment.

Alternatively, they’d have to find you my searching your name on Google, finding your profile within the search listings, then completing the booking.

In either case, these are rather poor experiences for patients. Plus, in both cases, Google gets left out of the transaction.

And given that Google knows 25% of the total health related searches are about a particular provider, they probably smell opportunity – millions of patients book appointments online each year.

Something that’s bound to grow over time.

Now, it appears, a patient can book a doctor directly through Google if the provider has a paid Healthgrades or ZocDoc account.

Make an Appointment Now Part of the Knowledge Graph

book-doctor-googleThe Google Knowledge Graph, that little box that shows up on the right hand of search engine results pages for healthcare provider searches with highlighted information now has a section entitled “Make an Appointment.”

Depending on what service the provider is using, patient searchers will be presented with a drop down to select their condition and can then click a link to complete the booking process.

This move mimics many similar enhancements Google has made in other industries, such as travel, where Google has aggressively cut out supposed middlemen in a searcher purchase journey.

All indications suggests this is set to happen in the healthcare space – regardless of whether or not Healthgrades and ZocDoc are paying for the privilege of being featured in the Knowledge Graph.

What Should a Medical Practice Do? How Can You Benefit?

We’re not reporting on this news to suggest you run out and handover a few hundred dollars to Healthgrades or ZocDoc.

(Not that they are bad services, it just you don’t need to stop what you’re doing and sign-up.)

That said, it might not be a bad idea and if you aren’t using either service, well, you won’t be able to take advantage of this option.

If you’re already using either of the service, be aware that any increases in performance may be coming off the back of regular demand for your services. Since many patients recognize these sites and use them, it wouldn’t be a surprise that increases in performance of your Healthgrades or ZocDoc account are coming because patients are booking through Google.

That said, it’s imperative that you monitor this development, since many practices report that Google is the #1 source of new patients for them online.

If Google is taking steps or implementing changes to funnel potential patients away from your own website, requiring you to do more or pay more to get what was once free, it will certainly impact your marketing strategies and results.

Doctor, the Google will see you now.

Garrett Smith

Garrett is the Founder, and Chief Marketer at InboundMD. Garrett has been successfully leading internet marketing campaigns for health care practices across the US for almost a decade. He's a frequent speaker at events, and author of "Book Now! Internet Marketing for Healthcare Practices", and the host of The Practice Marketing Podcast that details how successful practices are winning online.

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