Search advertising represents a paradigm shift for healthcare outreach.

A few years ago, most medical organizations didn't need to advertise, but today it's common. Hospital advertising has been in place for decades. Yet the Internet, and specifically search advertising, has introduced a whole new opportunity and changed the way many healthcare providers think about advertising and acquiring new patients.

Here is a brief example of the old rules v. the new rules!

Imagine paying for a billboard on a busy highway. You are really paying for the estimated number of impressions the billboard will deliver, so-called "eyeballs." If it works, you pay. If it doesn't, you still pay.

In search advertising, there is no charge unless a viewer clicks on your ad and is delivered to your Web site. You never pay a cent for an impression, regardless of how many thousands or millions of times your ad is served up.

It's like paying for a billboard (or any other form of advertising) not when a viewer sees your ad, but ONLY after he or she picks up the phone and calls you!

Other big, new advantages of search-driven advertising include:

Most importantly, search engines are the way healthcare consumers get health information and select doctors and hospitals.

They use them to research providers they are about to see, and to find doctors when they don't have a name at all. They look for imaging resources when they need a mammogram.  They use search engines to find others with the same medical condition. And they make appointments with specialists they identify through Internet research.

By being present in the search process, you can furnish information about your service exactly when the patient is looking for it. Often, consumers can be reached prior to making or finalizing their healthcare decisions. These are huge competitive advantages and a significant source of new business for many healthcare organizations.