While the mobile revolution of the 21st century has changed the face of modern business in nearly every industry, the medical industry has been particularly affected by the rise of smartphones in the U.S. More than half of all smartphone owners have used their phones to look up a medical condition in the past year, and two out of three seeking immediate treatment (at an urgent care facility, emergency room, etc.) check their devices to find the locations closest to them. With mobile healthcare searches on the rise, providers may be wondering how they can connect with new patients and take advantage of this growing trend. Fortunately, the solution starts with two little words:

The Power of "Near Me"

Consumers will likely consider many factors when searching for a healthcare provider. But while things like positive reviews and hospital affiliation are important, the words "near me" are crucial for healthcare providers, as research shows adding this short phrase to the end of healthcare terms increases searches on mobile by over 40 percent.

So if, for instance, you have a dermatology practice, you may want to use keywords like "dermatologist near me," as well as more general terms like "skin care near me" and "mole removal near me," in your search campaigns to reach the greatest number of potential patients who are searching for a practice like yours.

The Content Connection

While search engine marketing that leads consumers directly to your practice's webpage is a great way patients looking to receive care might find you, what about those who aren't sure if they're ready for care? This is where content marketing comes in: 56 percent of searches for healthcare terms are performed on mobile devices, and making sure you have mobile-optimized content that addresses search terms specific to your specialty can help potential patients find your practice before they even know they need it.

For instance, using the dermatology example again, if a potential patient is wondering about a suspicious mole they recently noticed, content that includes information about the ABCDE rule and advises readers about when to visit the doctor will help drive them directly to your practice (instead of to WebMD).

Looking Beyond Search

Though search is one of the primary ways patients are connecting with doctors in the modern world, healthcare marketers wanting to stay ahead of the curve should be ready to try some new things as well. Healthcare consultant Brent Walker of c2b Solutions recently spoke with Forbes and highlighted social media as a new frontier for the medical field, with patients frequently joining groups on Facebook to discuss providers, conditions or other related topics. Healthcare providers can capitalize on this behavior, lead the conversation in these groups, and connect with users who are wondering if they need treatment. The key to doing this effectively though, is to make sure you're always providing value - not just pitching your services.

Mobile healthcare searches show no signs of slowing down any time soon, and it's vital that marketers take advantage of this trend to help connect patients with doctors in today's modern world. With smart keyword usage, highly searchable content and a strong social media presence, your healthcare practice can really thrive in this increasingly mobile-first industry.