Web Health: The Importance of Building a Strong Online Presence for Your Practice

modern practice podcast

On this episode of The Modern Practice Podcast, host Gary Tiratsuyan is joined by Paul Harris, Sales Director at Glacial Multimedia, to discuss building a strong online presence for your practice. During the discussion, Paul outlines best practices that all specialties can utilize to ensure their patients are seamlessly interacting with staff pre-care, at the point of care, and post-care.

Paul shares detailed tactics that will allow practices to garner new patients, as well as retain their existing patient base, and answer the core three questions patients have upfront to stand out against local competition. Paul also discusses the partnership with Rectangle Health and how implementing patient payment, engagement, and financing solutions has helped Glacial Multimedia’s client base scale for revenue.


Gary Tiratsuyan 00:18 

Hello everybody and welcome back to the Modern Practice Podcast presented by Rectangle Health. We’ve got a great episode today for any healthcare provider who is looking to improve their digital footprint, reach and attract new patients, and retain existing patients. I’m excited for this episode as we had the pleasure of hosting Paul Harris, Sales Director at Glacial Multimedia. Glacial Multimedia is a Rectangle Health partner, a digital media agency that works with healthcare practices, especially vision practices, to manage their websites and marketing.  

Paul, welcome to the show. Let’s talk a little bit about you as a longtime marketing and customer service professional. How did you get into helping practices expand their digital media efforts? 

Paul Harris 01:09 

It’s a great question. As of this week, I’ve been with Glacial Multimedia for six years. I’ve been in many different marketing verticals in the B2B and B2C spaces. And then I found this agency and settled in the healthcare space.  

What really excites me about this particular area of marketing is that a lot of practices need help. That’s not a slight on the practices. But in healthcare, it’s easy to assume that all of your patients come through referrals. One of the primary verticals that I serve right now is vision care. In that space, we’re helping people and practices acquire new patient leads, get more cataracts, and get more LASIK surgeries for example. That’s the core of our business.  

Gary Tiratsuyan 2:02 

Vision has changed dramatically in recent years. Providers used to rely almost entirely on referrals or word-of-mouth to attract new patients. These days, having an online presence has become much more important, perhaps the most important way to attract patients.  

Can you talk a little bit about how that shift has happened? And are providers’ attitudes towards managing websites, posting to social media, and responding to online reviews different than they were just a few years ago?  

Paul Harris 2:40 

Things have totally changed. Consumers have to decide where to go to receive healthcare services. And there’s a lot of pre-education that happens, even with referrals. It used to be that if you got a cough, for example, your primary care provider would refer you to Dr. White or Dr. Smith. Now, people Google doctors in the evenings, looking at their profiles online to see if they have good reviews, websites, and backgrounds. 

Some people used to say that a lot of older patients weren’t online and that they weren’t using the internet to make health care decisions. But the data shows that in the current market that’s simply not true. Everyone is very tech-savvy these days. They’re checking out your Facebook page, they are using Instagram, and they understand the Internet. So, it’s really, really important that you have a professional digital footprint and an entry point on social media to your website. 

Gary Tiratsuyan 03:49 

Let’s talk about setting a practice up with a website. How does that initial conversation begin? Do they reach out to you? Are they referred to you by other practices that you work with?  

Paul Harris 4:05 

Our primary vertical has been vision, but I serve many different verticals. We’re doing a lot more in dentistry, dermatology, and plastic surgery. The majority of practices come to us with a website at a minimum. Typically, it’s been neglected. They have an old HTML website or a site that’s easily a decade old. You can see that it’s outdated based on the stock photography, the usability, or the fact that it’s not mobile responsive.  

We bring them up to speed. What that means is, what does your mobile performance look like? Does it look professional? Are you proud of it? Is it compliant with the American Disabilities Act (ADA)? Is it HIPAA-compliant? Things that used to be nice-to-haves are now legal must-haves.  

We bring them up to speed and get them a beautiful new website. That’s step one. Step two, now that you’ve built your digital home, how do you get people into your practice? That’s where we come in with some marketing services in the backend. 

Gary Tiratsuyan 05:11 

Do you feel like these providers are overwhelmed looking at an outdated website? Or are they confident but want to get another set of eyes on it? Do you feel like when you make these recommendations to be legally compliant, to cater to mobile, to cater to every single rule and regulation that is out there, that there’s a sense of overwhelmingness in tackling something like revamping a website? 

Paul Harris 05:45 

I wouldn’t use the word “overwhelmed”; I would just say that there’s an education gap. A lot of doctors simply don’t know what they don’t know. Physicians are so skilled, but they’re skilled at being physicians. And that’s how it should be. What they lack oftentimes is the marketing or sales experience, or even the business experience, to know that they need 15 to 20 minutes a week to focus on an online presence and marketing. It’s not necessarily that they’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s that they need professional help so they can get peace of mind.  

Gary Tiratsuyan 06:43 

Have you found that the mentality is that I’ve got this great website, and when I launch it, when I build it, they will come? Or are providers thinking, I need marketing. I need to drive traffic to the site. How are you navigating that conversation?  

Paul Harris 7:14 

Some practices have been open and thriving and successful for 30, 40, even 50 years because they are 100% based on referrals. If you’re a retina doctor, for instance, you don’t get referred to that type of surgery unless you have a serious medical problem. So those types of doctors are a little less interested in their websites because they know people are going to be coming to them. Regardless of what their website looks like, if a patient has a particular medical problem, they will come.  

But when we get into the elective space, that’s when the doctors get it. If I’m making an elective decision to get a Lasik eye surgery, or to buy a premium lens, or to do an ocular plastic face surgery, Botox, cosmetic dental, et cetera, those physicians get it because the user is making a buyer’s choice. And they know that the procedure is going to cost them potentially thousands of dollars. Practices need to present themselves as the best viable option in their city or area.  

Gary Tiratsuyan 8:22 

What does the ideal practice website look like? What are some of the common mistakes that practices make when they attempt to set one up? In your eyes, what should a healthcare practice website look like?  

Paul Harris 8:40 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Aesthetically, I definitely know what’s pleasing. But it does have to hit a couple of minimum standards. It has to have a strong search engine optimization (SEO) presence. I look at that from a technical standpoint. I look at like things like site speed, or how long it takes the website to load. I also look at how great the experience is on desktop versus an iPad versus a mobile phone. Those things are really important.  

Next, I mentioned compliance. Is the website ADA-compliant? You can tell that very quickly. Is it HIPAA compliant? What are you using for your forms? And what do all your calls to action look like? Do you have the functionality for online appointment scheduling? Or an online self-assessment? Where are all your phone numbers? Are they all accurate?  

And then off the page, there are a lot of things you can do to see how well you are reviewed online. You can look at the Google profiles. Do you have professional images inside and outside of your office space? All of those things are the bare minimum that you can look at.  

Another thing you could look at is the doctor profiles themselves. Every practice has a location profile for the business as well as physician profiles. Oftentimes, for heavy referral practices, patients are never Googling the practice’s name, they are Googling the physician’s name. It’s all about making that first impression. 

Gary Tiratsuyan 10:08 

You mentioned a number of verticals that you serve. I want to get into that a little deeper. What’s different in your approach to making a great website for an optometrist versus a great dental website? 

Paul Harris 10:32 

The audience is very, very important. I always tell practices that you want the medical site to appeal to the average patient. In the world of optometry and ophthalmology, you have to consider if the average person knows that much about eye care. There is some education necessary, but you don’t want to bombard them with medical jargon. We don’t want to hear about your femtosecond laser, that doesn’t mean anything to the average patient. 

Whether I’m working on a dental website, an ENT website, an eye care website, or a surgery website – I need to hit the three core patient fears. 

  1. How much does this procedure cost? I know most practices won’t say the cost outright, but you could say that you accept certain insurances or HSAs or that you offer financing options. 
  1. Is the procedure safe? Talk about its safety, how the treatment works, and what to expect both post- and pre-treatment.  
  1. Finally, discuss how long the recovery time is. The patient might want to golf on Saturday, for example, or have a wedding coming up. Maybe they want their smile to be perfect for that particular event.  

If you can hit those three patient fears, you can “put butts in seats”. What I mean by that is the marketing should book the consultation. Once you’re in the room with the doctor, the doctor is going to give you a higher level of education. As a marketer, I just want to present patients with the opportunity to book a consult. 

Gary Tiratsuyan 12:37 

As you were listing those top three fears – everything you mentioned, from pricing to recovery time and the procedure itself – I pictured myself Googling a service. Those are very much the three things I would look for. I could see myself trying to get more information to pick a provider. So, I imagine it would help greatly to fill that website up with valuable resources and content. It must help your search performance as well. 

Paul Harris 13:25 

Absolutely. You want to think about the way that people search. They are typically asking Google questions. For example, is LASIK safe? A great way to optimize your website for that is to have a title on your site, “Is LASIK safe?” Then write a paragraph of content answering that question. There are many, many examples. When you do keyword research, you realize that there’s a way to build that out. Oftentimes we’ll do frequently asked questions or sections where you can optimize for the key terms that people are Googling that are relevant to your services. 

Gary Tiratsuyan 14:04 

There’s so much to think about. It seems simple at its core, but thinking about everything we’ve discussed in these past few minutes alone, there’s a lot that goes into a website.  

I want to shift gears here a little bit and talk about your partnership with Rectangle Health. How does it work? Once you’re working with a client and helping them set up a new website, how does Rectangle Health’s Practice Management Bridge® platform come into the equation? Why is it important?  

Paul Harris 14:38 

We’ve been partners with Rectangle Health for about three or four years now. We have many partnerships with companies that might want to sell a piece of medical equipment or software. But the reason why we think Rectangle Health is such a good fit is that a practice’s website should be a vehicle for marketing, and it also should be a function of its business tools.  

What does that mean? When it comes to things like online payment options, that’s something that we don’t provide. It’s not our core expertise. I know that Rectangle Health has grown beyond things like online bill pay, but that’s how I open the door with my clients. Oftentimes they will still be sending out paper invoices. And if I hear that, I ask if they want to collect payments faster and make it easier for their team. Do you want fewer phone calls and to save money? I’ve got a great resource for you.  

I know Rectangle Health has many integrations with practice management systems and EHRs. That makes it easy to open the door to your services.  

Gary Tiratsuyan 16:17 

It’s amazing how it comes full circle from the point of capturing a new potential prospective patient, nurturing them through their care journey, educating them, telling them what they need to know about recovery, cost, etc., all the way to the point of getting treatment and paying for the treatment.  

Last question: we’ve seen healthcare providers’ attitudes change rapidly in recent years about the value of having an online presence. How do you see it changing even more in the next five to ten years? Is there any emerging technology that you see providers embracing or avoiding? Do you think that the providers who are most reluctant to expand their digital efforts will eventually have to if they want to thrive and grow?  

Paul Harris 17:29 

If you do not have an online presence now, you are already years behind. I’m seeing even more physicians who have completely neglected their websites for years, and even they understand that they need to do something. They will ask for a new website and say, please don’t even look at the one I have right now. You can hear almost the embarrassment. It’s indicative of them understanding that they neglected an important part of their business.  

Moving forward, one major trend in healthcare is the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI). A lot of practices have gotten great value out of doing a blog, but they’ve never really had enough time to manage it. Now I’m starting to see practices explore getting help from AI services to develop and manage a blog.  

There are a lot of debates about how helpful AI will be. But my general attitude is that everything’s worth a try. It’s a very small lift. Ultimately, we can A/B test things and see what pages are getting the most traffic. AI is one of those things that I see as an emerging technology.  

The other thing I would highlight is the growth of importance in the Google business profile. Google’s algorithms might make the profile just as important as the business’s website. If they add a call-to-action button within the Google profile, then that would essentially serve as your microsite.  

I’ve seen small practices on very tight budgets do nothing but manage their Google profile, and they’ve gotten traffic. Particularly for practices that have a couple of locations, there might be one location and area in particular you need to think about. It really is critical. 

Gary Tiratsuyan 20:07 

The Google Business Profile is another point of capture. One phone call could lead to a lifetime patient. 

How can our audience get in contact with you?  

Paul Harris 20:31 

You can follow me on LinkedIn, of course. And you can find me at If you’re interested in a free website audit, we do that all the time but never charge a dime. You type in your website, and we assess how you can improve. Unlike many agencies, we take a one-size-does-not-fit-all approach. If you need help with some edits, great. If you want help managing social media, great. If you want a full-blown, brand-new website, great.  

Our ultimate goal is to show value. One of the ways we do that is by making sure that we do the right things for our customers and give them a fair price. Also, customer management has been a huge focus for us this year. In our particular industry, we see a lot of lackluster response times when it comes to simple client requests and edits. It’s something that is a huge part of our ethos, that when you call us we have someone there. 

Gary Tiratsuyan 21:34 

That’s awesome. I will have links to your LinkedIn profile and your website in this episode description. 

Before we wrap up, Paul, thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. This was super valuable. I think our audience is going to get a ton of value out of it. I highly encourage you all to connect with Paul on LinkedIn and have a conversation. Start the conversation to see how you can expand and grow your business.  

Once again, Paul, thank you so much for joining me,  

Paul Harris 22:00 

I really appreciate it. As I said, I can’t say enough about our partnership with Rectangle Health.  

Gary Tiratsuyan 22:20 

For our audience tuning in today, if you enjoyed this episode, hit that like and subscribe button on your favorite streaming channel. And be sure to stay tuned as we’ve got more great episodes on the Modern Practice Podcast coming soon. Thanks for tuning in. Till next time, everybody. 

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