Use answers to these common questions to help fill your lobby.
Do you want to know a few easy ways to get more patients in the door?
Are you wondering how you can fill appointment slots with little to no marketing budget?
Most medical practices ‘do’ marketing for one reason – to get more patients in the door. So to help you, we’ve put together a list of the questions we get most often and our answers.
What Can I Do to Increase Referrals at My Office Immediately?
Take a look at where you are getting your best referrals now and work to strengthen those existing relationships. We see so many offices that assume they will always continue receiving referrals from their trusted referral partners, but it’s important to remember that relationships take work; you only get out what you put in.
You must continue to connect with people. Always assume that there is someone else out there trying to earn the same business that you already have and it’s up to you to continue cultivating those relationships – doing everything you can to ensure those referral sources are still strong. In other words, don’t forget about them. Come up with small ways to show your appreciation to your referral partners.
And if you’re not getting the same level of referrals that you’re used to, is there an underlying issue? Maybe you just need to get out there and pound the pavement.
The best piece of advice we offer our clients is always to have a reporting mechanism for understanding referral patterns. Software now exists that enables you to tie insurance data to referral patterns and NPI numbers and get a real understanding of where your referrals are coming from and their potential patient volume. Moreover, the software will help you identify opportunities to visit and nurture existing referral sources to rebuild your pipeline.
We do a lot of blogging for ReferralMD, the national leader in online referral management and monetization. You can check out what their software can offer you here (and even take a free demo).
Sometimes the issue may be as simple as a doctor retiring. Other times, it may be something that happened in the backend of your office which upset your referral partner, and you need to identify and then go out and rectify the situation.
Bottom line: you can’t build upon referral relationships unless you understand the data. When it comes to stopping leakage, the very first and foremost is to understand referral patterns and then come up with a plan to go out and capitalize on the relationships that you’ve built.
What’s the Biggest Trend You See Coming this Year for Medical Marketing?
Online rating websites have become the norm. Over 70% of all new patients are going to the internet first to find out about your office and the physicians within it. And forward-thinking medical practices have adapted, integrating processes and software allowing them to filter and respond to negative reviews before they go online.
However, Google reacted to this practice by changing its algorithm. Medical practices will no longer be able to filter negative reviews from patients on Google and Yelp (without significant risks). The good news is that medical practices stand to gain from a more transparent and open online review process.
Research confirms that the presence of negative reviews helps reassure prospective clients, establish credibility, and improve sales. 82% of consumers seek out negative reviews to develop trust and make sure the business they are dealing with has nothing to hide.
We break down how you can take advantage of Google’s new online review policy and serve your patients better in this podcast: How Google’s New Review Policy Affects Your Medical Practice
What Works Best to Grow a Practice with a Very Limited Budget?
There are a couple of things we think work really well here.
First off, your practice should have a robust online presence with a sound social media strategy. You should have a dynamic, informational, and user-friendly website that allows patients to not only get to know what you are capable of as an office but also who you are as people. It should also make it easy for patients to make an appointment. Your practice is a business like any other, and people tend to do more business with people and organizations they trust and like.
Secondly, as mentioned earlier, strengthening existing personal relationships is always huge. Sometimes the best patient is the one you already have, and we suggest marketing to your current patients. You’ve already got the captive audience, so you might as well use them. Consider sending out newsletters, flyers, postcards (whatever you can afford, really) to get them to recommend you or come back themselves. Email surveys are also an excellent way for you to get meaningful feedback from patients on why they haven’t returned yet and what you can do to improve patient care.
How Important Is My Office Staff to Help Grow My Practice?
Extremely important! Your staff is what you will be judged on by your patients as they are typically the first and last touch points. It’s as simple as being greeted with a smile. Even in this technology forward day and age, it’s still important to put on a happy face and put your best foot forward.
The overall experience you provide to patients is the determining factor for repeat business and referrals to their community. Your patient’s experience does not end after the treatment you provide. It represents only the middle component of the Patient Value Journey, the point where your patients decide never come back or get converted into ardent fans who sing your praises for all to hear.
The reality is that today’s consumer-savvy patients have more choices than ever when choosing what doctor they’re going to see. And they are also less forgiving for poor customer service, making customer care (and your employees that provide it) a critical part of the treatment package your offer.
I Don’t Collect Email Addresses from All Patients. Should I? What Should I Do with Them?
Absolutely. Collecting email addresses is an easy way to build a strong and accurate customer database. Have a plan for communicating your marketing messages to your patient database, be that via email newsletters, appointment reminders or even birthday messages.
Remember, if you’re on a limited budget, marketing to your existing patients is a great way to stay top of mind and grow your practice. This goes without saying, but if you’re collecting email addresses for marketing purposes, you must also have an opt-in field on the form you collect them.
You can read more on how to build an email list and use it to get more patients through the front door here:
How to Easily Build an Email List and Use It Effectively
How Often Should I Update My Practice’s Website?
You should be making changes to your website on a very regular basis – adding practice events, open-houses, speaking engagements, testimonials, etc. The more changes you make to your site, the higher you will most likely be in search engine rankings (there’s more to it than that, but it helps).
That said, integrating a focused social media plan is a great way to strengthen your web presence without having to continually update your main website that will improve your search rankings as well.
What Type of Print Advertising Makes a Difference to My Bottom Line?
As always, it depends on your target audience.
Who are you trying to reach? Where are they receiving their media? We always say we want to put ourselves in front of the best eyes possible, not necessarily the most eyes, meaning it’s better to have the right audience, even if it’s smaller.
If they are all potential targets, the size difference is irrelevant. Best of all, those smaller distribution sizes usually mean cheaper ad rates and potential bonuses for advertising (such as event sponsorship and content opportunities).
To learn more about how you can reach your ideal patient, at the right time with the right message, click here:
How to Identify and Target Your Ideal Patient Like a Marketing Pro