Among other things, NexHealth is a digital email marketing platform. When we set out to build NexHealth we realized that many of the key performance indicators digital marketers pore over, such as clicks and views, aren’t all that relevant for dentists. As far as marketing is concerned, dentists care about one thing: patients.

Patients are the lifeblood of any dental practice. That’s why we designed NexHealth to be a “patient driven” marketing platform. But what does that actually mean? That’s a question we asked ourselves while developing our platform, and we’d like to share some of what we’ve learned.

At its heart, patient-driven marketing focuses on the needs and pain points of patients. Healthcare practitioners are expected to put the interests of patients above their own, right? Likewise, patient-driven marketing also puts the needs and interests of patients first.

Of course, patient driven marketing still follows marketing principles. However, patient-focused marketing methods are adapted to meet the needs and ensure the well-being of patients. The results are subtle but effective changes to marketing practices that ultimately drive more patients to your practice.

Trust is vital in health care

We’ve all received health care treatment of some sort. Health care, including dentistry, can be intimidating for many patients. There are a lot of technical terms and the outcomes of treatment can have a major impact on our well-being. Trust is vital for patient driven marketing because it can both help attract patients and improve outcomes. Let’s go over why that’s the case.

Consider that when choosing a dentist, 22% of patients cited a dentist’s competence as the most important deciding factor, while 20.5% cited the recommendations from someone known, and nearly 20% more cited the overall quality of the service provided. Effective patient driven marketing will convince patients of your competence, drive recommendations, and lead to higher trust in your practice.

Of course, when it comes to providing quality service, you’ll have to show up and put in a good day’s work.

Trust can impact quality of care

Further, trust isn’t just about getting people through the door, it can also impact quality of care.  If people trust you, they’ll be more likely to seek out treatment and more willing to listen to your advice. On the other hand, if patients don’t trust you, they’ll be more likely to question or ignore your advice.

Not only that, but patients are more likely to rate their medical care more favorably if they trust their doctors. Favorable views, meanwhile, will impact how willing people are to recommend your practice. By the way, 29% of patients cite social media reviews as one of their top factors when choosing a dentist.

In sum total, establishing trust with patients in both your marketing and when patients are in the office is vital for the long-term success of your practice.

How you can build trust

Given how vital trust is, patient-driven marketing should build trust with both established and soon-to-be patients. Let’s examine some things you can do to build trust:

  • Avoid overly ‘salesy’ language
  • Feature profiles of your dentists and staff, complete with photos on your website and social media
  • Be straightforward when providing information
  • Have a modern, clean, and professional website

Patient-driven marketing must educate

Another way to build trust is to educate patients. As already noted, healthcare is a complex field. Think about how much knowledge the average dentist or other healthcare practitioner possesses.  Each practitioner spends years studying a single complex subject.

Most patients possess far less medical/dental knowledge. They most likely didn’t go to dental school and while they (hopefully) brush their teeth every day, that’s about the extent of their daily “dental practice.”

A dentist, on the other hand, is peering into mouths day in and day out. Patient driven marketing recognizes the vast gap between a dentist and a patient’s level of dental knowledge. Importantly, patient driven marketing tries to close that gap by providing educational content. By providing knowledge, you can both prove your competence and build trust with patients.

And remember what we said about competence: 22% of patients cite competence as the most important factor when choosing a dentist. By providing knowledge and education, you can demonstrate your vast knowledge.

Patients are already searching online

Are people actually going to search for healthcare providers and health information online? Yup. As of 2012, 40% of patients were already searching for social media reviews, while 33% were using social media to search for medical information. As of 2013, 45% of Americans had searched online to diagnose a healthcare condition. Of self-diagnosers, 45% report seeking professional care after their research.

As a dentist, you can influence the research process by providing informative content. Potential patients who read your content will be more likely to turn to you if they have concerns or need professional advice.

Ways you can educate patients

First, make sure you educate patients in your office. Explain what you’re doing and why. While trying to attract new patients, make sure you provide knowledgeable but accessible content.

  • Write informative blog posts then post them on social media
  • Provide educational images and graphics
  • Consider putting up videos or publishing a Podcast

There are many other opportunities for producing content. For example, you could publish a free guide for brushing an infant’s teeth, or taking care of dentures. Such content adds value to patients.

Building relationships through social media

Speaking of knowledge and trust, one of the most important goals of patient-driven marketing is building a relationship with your patients. By focusing on trust and knowledge, dentists are already off to a great start. However, there’s more that can be done.

Take your social media profiles. Your Facebook page can become a great resource for patients looking for information. You can post your educational content on your page and share dental health tips. This will keep your current audience informed, and will help grow your audience as more people turn to your Facebook page for information.

Dentists can take it a step further by posting up smiling images of their staff, video interviews with dentists and other content. This content will build trust with your audience, which again increases the strength of the relationship. You can also build relationships by:

  • Sending happy birthday greetings through social media
  • Sharing educational, value-added content
  • Wishing people happy holidays
  • Featuring photos of smiling patients

Staying in touch with your audience

Another way to strengthen your relationship with patients is to stay in touch through text and email via a secure patient messaging platform.With a patient driven marketing model, you don’t want to annoy your patients by bombarding them with emails and texts. However, the occasional reminder or newsletter will add value to your patients without bugging them.


The bottom line

Healthcare is one of the oldest and most venerable fields. There’s a lot that marketers can learn from healthcare, just as there’s a lot that healthcare practitioners can learn about marketing. Successful marketing strategies will help dental practices grow.

For dentists and other practitioners, however, ensuring that the patient’s well-being comes first is a must both in practice and marketing. That’s why  practices should adopt patient driven marketing by building trust, providing knowledge, and keeping patients informed.

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