How can you promote your medical practice to increase business? With a change in payment models and how physicians are reimbursed, this question takes on a new urgency. The old days of commanding patient loyalty because you’re so good may no longer be realistic.
Fortunately, if you run a medical practice, you don’t have to wait patiently hoping enough patients discover your practice through word-of-mouth from other patients. There is a lot you can do to be proactive.
Here are 4 suggestions:
1. Hire a Service to Manage Your Online Reputation
Professional services like Solutionreach can help you manage your patient reviews. Patient reviews are important because as many as 79% of consumers treat them as valuable as personal recommendations from family or friends who have visited the clinic.
What will people find when they visit your website? Complaints about how long they had to sit in the waiting room?
Solutionreach patient reviews help protect your online reputation by monitoring existing reviews and collecting new ones. And they will push your new reviews to the right places on the Internet.
In other words, patients will find tastefully worded reviews in the right places when they are trying to figure out what doctor to visit for their health problem.
2. Don’t Make Scheduled Patients Wait
While doctors may have perfect bedside manner, patients can often feel disrespected by doctors when they visit a clinic.
This can happens accidentally because of poor schedule management. In fact, the issue may have nothing to do with the doctor but is related to how the office staff is double-booking patients.
Patients who experience the impact of scheduling blunders and long waiting periods are likely to seek a better-managed clinic. Office staff must develop the skill of booking patients in realistically chosen slots.
3. Get Better at Handling Prescription Refills
It costs your practice time and money to approve refills over the phone. It’s also difficult to know over a quick phone call whether patients are simply over-medicating themselves because of hypochondria or because they like the side effects of the medications.
The best way to handle refill requests is to set appointments when a refill is due. You can set 30 or 90-day follow-up appointments depending on the medication. This way you can monitor if there are any problems with their prescription. You will also prevent any instances of substance abuse.
4. Try Email Marketing
Patients like staying in touch with their doctors and an unobtrusive way of establishing continuous contact is through email marketing. Email marketing will keep the doctor in mind when patients need to get medical help. It also helps improve recommendations.
The emails don’t have to be customized for each patient, but can be based on a newsletter that informs patients about general health issues. For instance, the email might cover broad topics like the health benefits of proper nutrition, regular exercise, or getting enough sleep.
It’s easy enough to set up a newsletter using an autoresponder from an email provider.
Besides sending out general health newsletters, you can also segment your list into specific target groups. For instance, you could create one group to remind patients of when it’s time to come in for their annual checkups, how to manage their chronic illness better, and the latest medical breakthroughs for certain health issues.
Besides newsletters, you can also have personalized emails to show appreciation to people who use your services. For instance, you might send out patient appreciation emails for choosing your clinic to new patients to initiate a long-term relationship.
In many ways, a medical practice is like any other service; it’s a business that needs to have customers and to offer something of value in exchange for money. For this, it needs to market itself.
Yet, in other ways, a medical practice is not the same as any other business.
You would be appalled if you saw a physician in a white coat wearing a stethoscope boldly proclaiming on a late night infomercial how he has a knack for detecting leaky gut syndrome and that he will pay a house visit for a quick checkup to see if you were suffering from it. The infomercial would strike you as crass and completely unfitting one of the noblest professions in the world.
On the other hand, you would think nothing of a plumber in overalls on a late night infomercial talking about how he can accurately detect leaky pipes in your home and fix them at a discount after a complimentary house visit. In fact, you might even admire the plumber for his entrepreneurial zest in improving his business. You would see the plumber as elevating his business to a professional status. Instead of thinking of a plumber as a manual laborer on his hands and knees peering underneath your kitchen sink, you would see him as a respectable businessman promoting his much-needed services.
The difference in market perception is because society thinks of doctors in a completely different way from plumbers. While it’s not easy to become a plumber, it takes decades of dedicated hard work and relentless study to become a doctor. Consequently, to see one selling his services like a circus barker would be absurd.