3 Ways to Find Out Where Your Patients Actually Come From

As a tech company we’re continually trying to find out, not just why people choose to use us, but also how they first came to find out about us. Even as a digital company, who does everything we can to take advantage of the latest tracking software, we find this second piece, discovering ‘how people first came to find out about us’, difficult.


In fact, difficult is an understatement. We find it near impossible.


Why It’s Hard


The reason it is so hard is because of the emphasis placed on giving all the credit to the final source of traffic. This is something we covered in detail in The Patient Acquisition Trap. Watch the video below to learn more about the trap.

The danger of the trap is that when we trust the ‘last click wins’ model we get a false sense of thinking we know where patients came from, and this is in fact worse than admitting we have no idea.


“Who knows if Mary heard about you from a friend first, or whether she saw you on the street, or found you on Google. Until Mary uses her computer we have no trace of the path she took to become a new patient at your clinic.”


So, how do you actually find out where your patients are coming fromThe short answer is that you ask your patients.


The Solution: Ask Your Patients


Sure, you could consult a marketing company, or marketing software. They’re likely to make a lot of promises and send you reports with big numbers underlined, but the truth is they have no idea what actually drove the patient to head to the keyboard in the first place. They’re playing the ‘last click wins’ game.


You could also hazard a guess and dig into some data you find online. Data like that we pulled together when we asked 1,140 Australian patients how they found the clinic they currently attend. It’s not a terrible option. After all, the data is going to be a lot more accurate than consulting a marketing report.


But again, there is a chance the data will be misleading because we all know that every medical centre is different. Some clinics have great street frontage, some produce copious amounts of content that ranks their website well on Google, and others offer such exceptional service that they’ve built up an enviable position through word-of-mouth. 


You really just don’t know until you ask people. But, what’s the best way to actually do this?


3 Ways to Ask Your Patients How They First Found You


1. Add the question to New Patient Registration forms


By far the easiest way to start collecting data on where your patients come from is to add a box to your new patient registration forms. You can do this manually by adding the question to your paper forms.


Otherwise, if you’re looking for an automated way to do this, you can use a digital tool like HotDoc’s New Patient Registration forms. The tool allows you to send registration forms to new patients prior to their appointments, which they can complete on their phones in their own time.


“As well as saving your admin team time and reducing clerical errors, the forms will soon include a built-in report that allows you to easily keep track of where your patients come from.”


The video below shows our New Patient Registration form in action. Speak to your Customer Success Manager or email [email protected] to find out more about utilising the Check-In feature at your clinic.

If you do choose to stick to paper forms, we suggest giving patients a list of options rather than a blank space where they write their own.


Some suggested options are:

  • A friend/relative/someone told me
  • I saw you on the street
  • Google search
  • I followed my doctor
  • Online directory
  • Other (please specify)

This will make it a lot easier to collate the results later. We also recommend using the wording ‘How did you first find out about us?’ to make sure patients don’t mistake this for a question asking them: how did they book, or where did they find you online.


2. Use a Patient Feedback SMS tool


The second option is to add the same question as above to a patient feedback survey you send to patients after their appointment. This can be done using a platform like HotDoc’s Patient Feedback tool. Surveys are sent as a SMS post-appointment, giving patients the convenience to complete surveys in their own time, and all data is stored in the one place making it super simple to analyse the results.


Obviously this doesn’t have the same additional benefits as New Patient Registration, which reduces admin time, but it does make for a good option if you want to get more feedback from patients than just how they came to first find out about your clinic.


3. Send a survey by email


The third option is by far the fastest way to gather a fairly accurate picture of your biggest traffic sources. This involves sending out a survey to all of your patients. The benefit is that it will give you a lot of data in a very short time, but the downside is that it will require a little bit of set up on your end. 


To help you with this set up we’ve produced two videos (below) that walk you through how to set up a free survey using SurveyMonkey. 


“We recommend using SurveyMonkey because it is by far the easiest and most versatile survey software on the market, and the platform provides a free basic plan option.”


This free option allows you to create and send a survey with up to 10 questions (which is more than enough) within a matter of minutes and view up to 100 responses per survey. This should be good enough because you can set up (or clone) multiple surveys that can each be sent to 100 patients. If you sent out one survey per week it would only take you a month to gather 400 responses, which is a decent starting number. Obviously, the more surveys you send the more accurate your data will be.


This video shows you how to set up a survey in SurveyMonkey

This video shows you how to analyse your results once they come in


To make things super easy, here is the text you can copy and paste into SurveyMonkey.


Survey Name: 1 Min Patient Feedback Survey


Category: Healthcare


Question 1: What is your gender?

  • Female
  • Male
  • Other

Question 2: What is your age?

  • 18 to 24
  • 25 to 34
  • 35 to 44
  • 45 to 54
  • 55 to 64
  • 65 to 74
  • 75 or older

Question 3: How often do you typically visit a doctor?

  • More than once a month
  • Once a month
  • Once every 3 months
  • Twice a year
  • Once a year
  • Less than once a year

Question 4: How did you first find out about us?

  • A friend/relative/someone told me
  • I saw you on the street
  • Google search
  • I followed my doctor
  • Online directory
  • Other [please specify]


If you need help setting up your SurveyMonkey survey, or you’d like to find out more about our New Patient Registration forms or Patient Feedback tool, please contact your Customer Success Manager or email [email protected].

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