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How To Build Patient Personas For Your Practice

In our last post, we shared with you the importance of implementing Patient Personas to your healthcare practice marketing strategy. Patient Personas separate your current patient population into different silos, and allow you to better-target the prospective patients with whom you would like to grow your practice.

These fictional persons serve as granular representations of different groups of patients, who have significant similarities in the way of values, beliefs, and motivations. Remember Sarah Smith, the 29-year old married mother of two who likes to run and helps care for her aging parents? It’s much easier to craft a marketing or brand message for Sarah than it would be if I were to tell you, “Spin me up some marketing materials for the 25-34 year-old woman demographic.” Don’t you think?

So, without further ado, let’s get started on how to build a Patient Persona for your practice!

Gain a comprehensive understanding of your current patient population. By doing this, you will discover what demographics make up your largest patient percentages, establish geographic insights into where they come from, and learn their unique psychographic data. The best way to gather this information is actually quite simple: conduct an audit on your current patients.

The easiest and most scalable way to do this is through a patient survey, which can be sent out via email, or be completed by patients while in your waiting room. You can even incentivize them with a prize or gift to ensure high completion rates. Other methods used to acquire patient information are through your already-existing databases, personal interviews, and educated speculation based on what you already know about them.

Here are some examples of the topics, and specific questions, you should include in your survey:

Background Information:  details about their role in healthcare (do they schedule appointments for the whole family?), information about their household and family (number of children, their family’s general health, insurance provider/no insurance)
Demographic Information:  gender, age, town they live in, income, education level, online resources used to research health questions, online/social platforms used for entertainment purposes
Psychographic Information:  ethnicity, level of tech-savviness, communication preferences, interests and hobbies, other questions specific to your city or town
Goals and Challenges:  primary and secondary health goals, primary and secondary health challenges
Constructive Ways to Improve:  name three improvements we could implement to make your visits more enjoyable

As you can see, a simple survey has a powerful ability to shape what you know (and don’t know) about your patients. In turn, this knowledge begins to identify your patients’ different needs. And, as a byproduct of this exercise, you will also notice undesirable patient silos, for which you would not want more of, referred to as Negative Patient Personas.

Correspondingly, your marketing and branding efforts will soon have the capacity to hyper-focus on messaging that will resonate with each desirable silo, and avoid messaging which might attract Negative Patient Personas.

So, now that the hard part of gathering all your patient data is complete, what’s next?

Start categorizing the similarities together in different groups; these will soon become your Patient Personas. The final step is to label your personas with respective names, images, and quotes (drawn from your survey and/or interviews). That’s it; you’ve completed your Patient Personas! Now comes the fun part.

Begin reviewing your competitors’ websites, social media, and advertising initiatives.

• Who are they targeting?
• What is their value proposition?
• How can you differentiate your practice in the minds of your Patient Personas?
• Is there a branding “blind spot” in the market your practice can capitalize on?

By tapping into your resources, developing Patient Personas, and conducting competitor research, you can identify opportunities, hone your marketing and brand messaging, and accurately communicate with the desirable target patients who will deliver the greatest return on your investment.

Be sure to check back in a week for the next blog of this four-part series, where we will discuss some Patient Personas seen by surgeons and chiropractors, plus one Patient Persona commonly shared by both!

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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