October 27, 2016

Drive Patients to Your Digital Front Door

By Sara Khan



A healthcare system’s physician directory is a digital front door in an on-demand world, where patients expect to find physicians to meet their needs immediately and easily. But, for many healthcare systems, the digital front door is a roadblock to providing on-demand access to physicians. Building a stronger foundation of data that unlocks the value of a healthcare system’s physician network is the solution. These were the key points of the webinar SIM Partners delivered on October 20.

The webinar, “Drive Patients to Your Digital Front Door” was hosted by Amanda Bury, Managing Director, Healthcare of SIM Partners and Ed Bennett, CEO of Ed Bennett Consulting, and was sponsored by Internet Healthcare Management. Through a panel discussion, Amanda and Ed addressed questions from the audience and shared why it is important for healthcare systems to treat their physician directories as their digital front door and what the elements of an effective physician directory are. Some key points addressed were:

The Patient Experience Is Becoming More On-Demand Locally

Today, 89 percent of consumers use Google when looking for healthcare. With the rise of “near me” searches, Google is starting to auto-populate facilities nearest to patients, and Google uses location data to serve up the most relevant searches to the patient. As patients are continuing to use mobile devices more than ever, getting into the local search results is becoming critically more important for healthcare systems.

Data Is the Foundation of a Physician Directory

In order to get consumers to your digital front door, healthcare marketers need to make sure they are delivering a seamless experience by delivering foundational data assets such as a facility’s name, address, and phone (NAP); latitude/longitude; business category; business description; and hours of operation. Healthcare marketers need to solve for complex data sets and harness all of the different attributes to improve the search experience. In order to do so, they must stay up-to-date with one source of truth and manage location and physician data in one place. Managing thousands of locations and hundreds of physicians can be overwhelming. A technology platform such as SIM Partners’ Velocity allows healthcare systems to scale and automate their efforts.

An Effective Physician Directory Consists of Several Key Elements

Improving your physician directory is key to being more responsive to patients in an on-demand world in which patients expect to find physicians to meet their needs immediately and easily. Here are several key elements an effective physician directory:

  • Be visible and accurate with a foundation of data.
  • Provide contextual content and data such as insurance information to help patients make decisions in the moment.
  • Be actionable. Optimize physician pages for mobile devices with actionable content.
  • Be measureable. Measure the effectiveness of your physician directory just as retailers do for store locators.

Amanda concluded the webinar with these next steps healthcare marketers can take to drive patients to their digital front door:

  1. On-demand is the new normal – healthcare marketers must put the patient first in every strategy when thinking about “next moments” (or the action a patient takes after finding your business) and driving quality
  2. Gathering and organizing facility and physician attributes are key to delivering a seamless patient experience
  3. Patients expect connected experiences at all times, from searching for care to scheduling an appointment – which requires technology partners who understand the strategy and mission

To replay Ed and Amanda’s discussion, view the recording. And download The Healthcare Marketer’s’ Guide to Building a Physician Directory from SIM Partners to learn more about how your physician directory is the digital front door for your healthcare system.

October 26, 2016

SIM Partners’ Velocity Health Takes Home A Street Fight Local Visionary Award

By Jon Schepke


Image Credit: Street Fight

The SIM Partners’ Velocity Health solution is gaining momentum. Yesterday, Velocity Health won a 2016 Street Fight Local Visionary Award in the category of Best Solution for a Specific SMB Vertical. The award win occurred the same  day  the Healthcare Internet Hall of Fame  announced that Velocity Health had been selected as an inductee into the organization’s Hall of Fame Class of 2016. It’s an honor to be recognized for these awards, as we help transform the patient experience from search to care and beyond.

The Street Fight Local Visionary Award recognizes people and companies that apply innovation and creativity to advance the state of the art in location marketing. The Best Solution for a Specific SMB Vertical category recognizes companies that “have developed excellent, effective products” tailored to vertical markets.

These two accolades demonstrate that SIM Partners is successfully combining our expertise in location marketing and technology with vertical-market know-how to shape the future of location-based marketing.

As we noted in a press release we shared today, Velocity Health has helped the healthcare industry embrace the needs of on-demand consumers by connecting patients with physicians and facilities in moments when and where patients are looking for care. Velocity Health provides a single source of physician and facility data and content that makes it easier for patients to find and receive care when they search across a healthcare systems’ network of physicians and locations.

Velocity Health is making a strong impact for two major reasons:

  • Velocity Health delivers value. When I blogged about Velocity Health being named a member of the Healthcare Internet Hall of Fame, I mentioned the results we deliver to major clients. For instance, as a result of using Velocity Health, a top regional healthcare system was able to transform the patient experience and drive acquisition at scale, surpassing its year-over-year appointment growth goal. The program achieved a 33:1 return on investment and saw substantial results, including a 175 percent increase in appointment submissions.
  • Velocity Health innovates. Velocity Health is helping healthcare systems make the transition into the omnichannel, on-demand economy. For instance, Velocity Health makes it easier for patients to find physicians quickly no matter what device patients use. And Velocity Health offers a “Ride There with Uber” button that healthcare systems can publish on their physician pages, which helps patients take the next step in getting to the care they need after booking an appointment. We’re accelerating the patient journey with Velocity Health.

The Street Fight Local Visionary Award is now in its second year. In 2015, SIM Partners brought home two  awards, including Best Lead-Gen Campaign for Advocate Health Care, which relied on Velocity Health even though we had not branded the solution as such. Although we formally branded Velocity Health in May 2016, the solution had been delivering results for quite some time.

We’re sharing our learnings from client work in a number of ways, such as the recently published Healthcare Marketer’s Guide to Building a Physician Directory and The Transparency Triangle: Three Essential Elements of Healthcare Transparency. And we’re going to be sharing a lot more in-depth expertise as we continue to create the future of location marketing. Meanwhile, congratulations to our clients and to the many talented people who have made Velocity Health an award winner and hall of famer.

October 25, 2016

SIM Partners’ Velocity Health Is A Healthcare Internet Hall Of Famer

By Jon Schepke


Today I have some big news to share: the Healthcare Internet Hall of Fame (HIHOF) announced that SIM Partners’ Velocity Health will be inducted into the class of 2016. The induction affirms that within a short amount of time, Velocity Health has blazed a trail of innovation and results in the healthcare industry.

The Healthcare Internet Hall of Fame honors “individuals and organizations who have made outstanding, lasting contributions to the healthcare Internet industry,” in the words of the organization’s website. The HIHOF selected Velocity Health for the Innovative Services or Product Category, a group that includes inductees such as the Mayo Clinic and WebMD. We are proud to join such prestigious company.

As we mentioned in a press release today, Velocity Health is a technology platform that automates the process of creating, managing, and sharing a healthcare system’s vast network of physician and location data and content, which makes it easier for patients to find and receive care when they conduct online searches. Healthcare systems such as Advocate Health Care and Duke Health rely on Velocity Health to improve their visibility and acquire patients.

What makes Velocity Health especially innovative is the way the solution satisfies the needs of patients in an on-demand world. For example, Velocity Health offers a “Ride There with Uber” button that healthcare systems can publish on their physician pages, which helps patients take the next step in getting to the care they need after booking an appointment. Consequently, Velocity Health accelerates the patient journey.

Being inducted into the Healthcare Internet Hall of Fame is the latest in a series of honors bestowed on Velocity Health. Just a few weeks ago, I blogged about the news that Velocity Health was named a finalist for a Street Fight Local Visionary Award in the category of Best Solution for a Specific SMB Vertical. As noted on our own website, Velocity Health has delivered benefits such as a 110-percent increase in physician page visits and an 80-percent increase in conversion rates.

Velocity Health will be inducted on November 8 at the 20th Annual Healthcare Internet Conference, where (on November 7) our Managing Director of Velocity Health, Amanda Bury, will deliver a presentation with our client Mayura Kumar, Director of Digital Strategy, Advocate Health Care, “The Uber Effect in Healthcare: Changing the Game through Hyper-Local Digital Marketing.” Talk about great timing!

Congratulations to our clients and to the dedicated SIM Partners team that has created a strong impact. As we work together, the best is yet to come.

October 24, 2016

How Data Amplifiers Can Free Your Location Data

By Adam Dorfman



At SIM Partners, we’ve coined the term “data amplifier” to describe publishers and data aggregators that share a business’s location data where “near me” searches occur. My new Search Engine Land column shares why data amplifiers are critical.

In the column, I discuss the recent experience of a vendor that had pressured one of our clients to adopt a paid-inclusion model on a tier-two directory. Fortunately, the client did not take the bait.

My column contrasts the value that data amplifiers provide with the perils of paying to have one’s data managed directly on a tier-two directory. Check it out, and contact us to discuss how we can help you treat your location data like a strategic asset.

October 17, 2016

Why Brands Need to Understand Prompted Search

By Gib Olander

business man clicking internet search page on computer touch screen

How many times have you heard about a product through an advertisement, pulled out your mobile phone, and searched for a store that carries it? I call this phenomenon prompted search. Businesses need to understand this consumer behavior to maximize the value of their top-of-the-funnel brand building activities.

Prompted searches are triggered by two types of events: one that a business creates itself, such as a product launch, or an external event that a business capitalizes on to build awareness, such as the World Series. For instance, a restaurant chain might offer drink specials to its Chicago-area customers while the Chicago Cubs are playing in the Major League Baseball playoffs. The restaurant needs to remember that patrons hearing about the promotion will naturally go online to search for the address and hours of their nearest location. The restaurant’s location data had better be up to date, including both the fundamental name, address, and phone data as well as attributes such as whether the location offers free parking.

In my new Street Fight column, I discuss prompted search in more detail. Please check it out, and contact us to discuss how SIM Partners can improve your location marketing efforts.

October 14, 2016

The Retailing of Healthcare in an On-Demand World

By Amanda Bury



Hospitals with Starbucks in their lobbies. Loyalty programs that reward patients for healthy living. On-demand services that bring physicians to patients’ homes — they’re all signs of the retailing of healthcare, a trend that has been taking root for years.

In my recently published MedCity News column, I discuss how the retailing of healthcare has accelerated as patients have become empowered with mobile devices to find care on their own terms.

As I mention in the article, the rise of mobile and proliferation of digital devices has made it possible for patients to conduct more “near me” searches for care faster and with more information than ever before. It’s a stretch to say that patients are conducting complicated searches for surgery options on their smartphones, but searches for more routine care and for emergency services lend themselves to mobile. And mobile heightens an expectation for getting services on demand more generally speaking.

Healthcare systems are responding. Please check out my article for more detail, and contact us to discuss how SIM Partners can help you succeed with location marketing.

October 13, 2016

Update Your Store Hours Now for the 2016 Holiday Shopping Season

By Adam Dorfman


It’s shaping up to be a cheerful holiday season. The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that holiday sales will increase 3.6 percent, which is higher than the 10-year average of 2.5 percent. The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) predicts a 3.3 percent sales boost for brick-and-mortar stores. Retailers are expected to higher between 640,000 and 690,000 seasonal workers as they gear up for the spike in sales, according to the NRF. Preparing for the holiday season also means managing your seasonal content and location data so that consumers know where to find you, especially when they use their mobile phones to do a “near me” search for stores that are keeping holiday hours to accommodate their shopping needs. You can start now by scheduling an update to your store hours.

As the ICSC points out, 85 percent of consumers will search online before making an in-store purchase. According to the e-tailing group, the Number One way U.S. digital shoppers use their smartphones while holiday shopping is to look up store information such as hours and location. So you need to make it easier for consumers to find you when they do online research for what to buy and where to buy. Here are some steps you should be taking now to prepare:


  • Update your store hours. Schedule an update to your store hours on all the location pages for your brick-and-mortar stores. Shoppers expect retailers to offer expanded hours of operation during the holidays, but those hours vary from store to store — and region to region if you operate hundreds and thousands of stores. Moreover, holiday hours can change as a specific holiday approaches, and special dates, such as Black Friday and Christmas Eve, might have unique hours that need to be managed. As we have discussed on our blog, Google makes it possible for businesses to use Google My Business to pre-schedule specific hours for holidays and events — a boon for anyone who manages brick-and-mortar operations. But updating store hours is more challenging for businesses that manage hundreds and thousands of locations. If you are one of those businesses, act now. Create a listing management plan that identifies how, when, and who will ensure that store hours are up to date. If you work with an outside partner (such as SIM Partners) to manage your location data, work together now to update your hours.
  • Check your location data health. Updating your store hours won’t help you if you publish incorrect information about your address, which happens more often than you might expect. Do a gut check to make sure you are getting the basics right. Do all your location pages publish accurate name, address, and phone (NAP) data? Is your location information accurately listed on all the places where shoppers conduct near-me searches, such as Apple Maps, Google Maps, and Foursquare? Location data health requires monthly check-ups because business conditions change constantly. Stores get opened and closed, for instance.


  • Get ready for the on-demand shopper. Make sure that shoppers are aware of any services you provide that make it easier for shoppers to get to your store — and for you to get products to them. In our on-demand economy, shoppers expect retailers to be more responsive than ever. The rise of services such as UberRUSH simplifies the process of delivering products from brick-and-mortar. If you offer any special services that make it easier to get holiday goodies into the hands of consumers, make sure you advertise those services clearly and prominently on your location pages as well as through paid advertising. For instance, SIM Partners clients can add a “Ride There with Uber” button to their location pages thanks to an API we rolled out in August. Get your content updated now to show that you can meet the needs of on-demand consumers
  • Optimize your site content for mobile voice search. Increasingly, shoppers are relying on voice-activated searches to find what they need, especially while they are on the go. As Entrepreneur Derek Iwasiuk wrote recently, voice search requires businesses to optimize their content differently to be found. “Instead of focusing on short keyword searches, voice search makes it vital to consider longer questions,” he wrote. “Marketers need to find out how phone users are phrasing their queries and base their SEO campaigns around these questions.” You should ask what kind of voice queries your customers are going to make this holiday season (e.g., “Where can I find Sky Viper Streaming Drones on sale nearby?”) and make sure that you have optimized the content on your location pages to answer those questions.


A one-two punch that optimizes data and content will ensure that shoppers take two critical actions:

  • Shoppers will find you because your data is accurate.
  • Shoppers will buy from you because your contextual content convinces them to make a purchase.

Getting ready for the holiday season all starts with managing data such as your store hours. Are you ready? Contact us to discuss how we can help.



October 12, 2016

HITMC Twitter Chat Highlights the Omnichannel Patient Experience

By Amanda Bury



I recently had the pleasure of hosting a Twitter chat with the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Community (HITMC), a vibrant group of passionate industry professionals who share an interest in shaping the future of healthcare. If you’ve ever participated in a Twitter chat, you know that they can inspire some spirited conversation, and the October 4th HITMC Twitter chat was no exception. Our conversation ranged from healthcare transparency to the emergence of on-demand models of providing patient care. The over-riding theme was how healthcare systems are responding to increasingly empowered patients who are taking an omnichannel journey to find care. These three take-aways stood out:

Patients Are on an Omnichannel Journey

Patients are using a variety of channels and touch points to find care — and healthcare systems need to adapt accordingly. I tweeted that “As patients use their savvy consumer skills in healthcare we are seeing voice search, local search and social media play key roles” in physician discovery. And Google remains the primary platform for local search. As @AmyinMaine tweeted, “Today’s phonebook is Google Search.” But even the concept of Google search has changed to accommodate voice and mobile. The challenge for healthcare systems is to optimize their data and content for mobile voice searches — and searches on Facebook, Yelp, among many other touch points. The key is to unleash accurate location and physician data where those searches occur — and optimize location pages for a multi-device world.

Treat Your Physician Directory like a digital front door

Participants agree that the physician directory is a popular, perhaps the most popular, destination on a healthcare provider’s website. But physician directories too often provide a poor user experience. In fact, @GLHC_HIE noted that directories constitute “the almost universally (IMHO) convoluted UI/UX found in most hospital websites!” Participants agreed that healthcare systems have a major opportunity to improve the usability of physician directories through better search. At SIM Partners, we believe that improving search goes hand in hand with publishing more compelling physician content and accurate data — all of which, together, ensure that patients not only find what they want (the right physician for their needs) but quickly and easily. By treating the physician directory as the digital front door to care, healthcare systems can vastly improve patient acquisition. As @sarahmlavoie tweeted, a “clear, user friendly and helpful” physician directory constitutes the “best kind of marketing!”

The Healthcare Industry is Becoming Like Retail

I asked how the healthcare industry is being influenced by other businesses, and it was clear from our chat that the industry is rapidly emulating the on-demand nature of retail, with companies such as Pager and Uber providing healthcare services on-demand to patients’ homes, and healthcare systems opening up outpatient services at retail outlets such as Walgreen’s. Meanwhile, it’s inevitable that retailers will become more like healthcare providers, as @ShimCode noted when he tweeted about Walmart providing an array of services ranging from hair care to tax preparation. “Why not primary & urgent care?” he asked. This convergence is putting more pressure on healthcare systems to partner with the Walmarts of the world lest they be left behind.

Those are just some highlights from our wide-ranging conversation. You can see more detail here and participate in more chats by following #HITMC. Meanwhile, for more insight into how healthcare is becoming more like retail, check out my newly published MedCity News column, “Here are six ways that healthcare is adapting retail concepts.” Contact us to discuss how we can help you adapt to the changing industry through location marketing.

October 11, 2016

SIM Partners’ Velocity Health a Finalist for 2016 Street Fight Local Visionary Award

By Jon Schepke





I am pleased to announce that SIM Partners is a finalist for a Street Fight Local Visionary Award in the category of Best Solution for a Specific SMB Vertical for Velocity Health. The Street Fight Local Visionary Awards recognize the best companies and achievements in location marketing. With Velocity Health, we’re changing the way healthcare systems acquire, engage, and retain patients.

The Best Solution for a Specific SMB Vertical category recognizes companies that “have developed excellent, effective products” tailored to vertical markets. To be a finalist, a provider must be able to demonstrate outcomes for businesses in a particular vertical. And the Street Fight judges liked the outcomes that Velocity Health delivers for healthcare systems.

Velocity Health creates one source of truth for physician and location data that enables patient acquisition through listing visibility and patient access through physician directories and profiles. An open architecture enables experiences and integrations — including scheduling, transparency, ride-sharing, and more — to engage and retain patients while maximizing existing technology investments.

As a result of using Velocity Health, a top regional healthcare system was able to transform the patient experience and drive acquisition at scale, surpassing its year-over-year appointment growth goal. The program achieved a 33:1 return on investment and saw incredible results, including a 175 percent increase in appointment submissions.

The recognition for Velocity Health is timely. The healthcare industry is transitioning from a time in which patients relied on family and friends to find care to a post-digital era in which patients rely on multiple channels, including mobile, to do in-depth research on physicians, costs, and insurance compatibility. Healthcare systems need to act more like retailers, making their physicians and services as easily findable as the best online retail sites do for their products. Patients demand transparency, responsiveness, and user friendliness when they search for care. Velocity Health supports all those objectives by making physician pages more visible, complete, and useful.

We’re continuing to innovate Velocity Health, an example being the creation of an integration with Uber that makes it possible for patients to use a physician page to book Uber rides to their appointments. Stay tuned: we’re just getting warmed up. Meanwhile, on October 25, Street Fight will announce the award winners at the Street Fight Summit. For our clients, Velocity Health has won already.


October 6, 2016

Is There a Possum in Your Location Marketing?

By Adam Dorfman



Image Credit: Search Engine Land 

Local and organic ranking signals for brick-and-mortar business continue to merge, thanks to a new Google algorithm update nicknamed Possum. With the Possum update, Google is  applying filters to reward certain businesses that are not only physically closest to searchers but that also are optimizing their location data and content for search far better than anyone else.

One of the interesting implications of Possum is that businesses need to work harder to optimize data and compelling content to attract customers locally. Big businesses won’t have an advantage because of their domain strength.
In my newly published Search Engine Land column, “Don’t Let Your Business Play Possum with Local Search,” I share more implications of Possum. Check it out and contact us to discuss how SIM Partners can help you improve your location marketing.