How do you attract patients to your medical practice? Well, there is no one right answer. What works for one practice may not work for yours. With that said, in order to attract more potential patients to your practice, you need to be willing to experiment. Below, we have outlined five low-cost best practices you can try. Check them out, and see what can work for your practice.
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1. Establish an active online presence
Eight out of ten people will turn to a search engine to answer health inquiries, and Google handles 3.5 billion searches per day. If you aren't online, chances are many patients will not know you exist – so take your first step and create a practice website. But don't worry, you don't need to know coding to make a website.
Today, there are many free website builders available that come with pre-designed templates where you simply fill in the information. Make sure that your website is beautifully designed, easy to use, informative of why your practice is best, and finally, mobile-responsive.
With 60% of searches coming from mobile devices, a mobile-responsive website will set you apart from your competitors. However, an online presence is not just simply a beautiful, polished website. Help raise your search engine optimization by trying the following online marketing:
- Submitting your practice to online directors
- Listing your practice on Google
- Creating a profile on major review sites
- Utilize social media marketing – but be wary with what you share on social media!
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2. Start a blog
Considering 72% of people looked up health information online, a well-written blog post may be the answer they are searching for. You can write about a variety of topics such as thoughts on certain treatments, case studies with current patients, wellness tips or updates about your practice. But don't worry if you aren't the best writer. As long as your message is comprehensible, you're fine.
By updating regularly and writing original content, you will help boost your search engine ranking and make it easier for patients to find you. You can then promote your blog through your social media accounts to engage with current patients and potentially discover new ones. Blogs > Website > Social media > SEO+ is the classic circle of life for online content.
3. Ask for referrals and reviews
This is a typical practice, but timeless because it works. An individual's health is a serious matter to them. To make sure they are going to the right doctor or practitioner, people will search for patient reviews of your practice to read how they describe their treatment.
This will especially happen is the person has moved to a new city, state or even country and are not too familiar with the area. Since you now know there will be a "demand" for reviews and referrals, make sure you have the supply! Consider sending a follow-up email to thank patients for their visit, then include a link where they can leave you a review online.
Some popular review websites out there are Yelp, Angie's List, Healthgrades, ZocDoc, and Google reviews.
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You can also incentivize feedback, reviews and referrals by hosting contests with prizes and giveaways or offering discounts or free services. Meaningful and useful giveaways, such as monitoring items for blood pressure or heart rate, can also reaffirm a good relationship with current patients. You can use these monitoring items to reach out to them and follow up regularly. These little gestures will make your current patients happy, which will lead to more positive word of mouth referrals and reviews, and hopefully more revenue for your business.
4. Attract more patients to your practice by nurturing strong relationships your current patients
Sometimes we get so focused on the new that we forget what's already right in front of us. While using your practice's resources to attract new patients, spare some resources for your current patients. Reverse the scheduling process by following up with your patients for a new appointment time. Send email reminders to remind them for scheduled checkups. You can also send follow-up emails to remind them to leave a review, or stay in touch with health tips, best hygiene practices during the winter season, and updates about your practice. Or, if you are a specialized practice, such as a gastrointestinal center, invite a patient for a colonoscopy when they turn 50. Similarly, if you prescribed a medication to a patient, follow up and see if the medication is working or if they are experiencing any side effects. This small step can mean wonders to a patient as it shows them that you truly care about their health, which will help keep them around long-term.
5. Upgrade to modern technology
It's a digital age now, and it's time for the healthcare organizations to embrace it. But don't worry, utilizing more technology in your practice is not as intimidating or costly as it may sound. For starters, consider having your practice be more email-friendly (but make sure your email is HIPAA compliant!) For instance, allow patients to schedule appointments via email or ask a quick question. This convenience will save time for patients and for your staff as well. For in-house operations, think about having an electronic check-in when patients first arrive (via an iPad, for example). As they wait to be seen, offer complimentary WiFi or have a TV playing with Netflix or another streaming site on. You can even splurge for a massage pillow or massage chair if you find that your wait times getting longer. You never know – patients may prefer waiting longer if they can get massaged longer.
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Making the waiting area a pleasant experience for your patients will definitely have them talking to their family and friends. Alternatively, try offering after-hours virtual visits. Not everyone has the time to come in physically during a 9am-5pm practice. With after-hour visits, you can fit more appointments in one day, keep patients coming back with the appointment flexibility, and put yourself at an advantage for practices that are not open later in the evenings. However, we recognize that the idea of working more hours is off-putting. Instead, try compromising by offering after-hour virtual visits from your home or replacing after-hour calls with reimbursable video visits. This allows you to increase your patients, earn compensation for after-hours time, and keep a work-life balance. Try any of these simple ways to attract more patients and see what works well for your practice. Remember to be open to experimenting, but also keep in mind that results may not happen immediately. Regardless, any of these best practices are sure to improve your practice and patient experience. Best of luck!