When was the last time you reviewed your new patient tracking results? Or sat down to focus solely on marketing your practice? If you’re like most of my clients, often times you get stuck on auto-pilot, focusing on your primary responsibility: treating your patients. But weeks may turn into months before you realize that your new patient numbers have decreased (if you’re tracking properly and reviewing this information). It’s certainly easy for this to occur with all the daily responsibilities of running a successful practice, focusing on patient care, office management, customer service and financial matters. However, if you find that you are avoiding enhancing your organization due to lack of time and/or focus, it could lead to the downfall of your practice. Here are some places where medical practices can lose momentum, which can ultimately lead to failure.
Expecting Patients to Find You
Make it easy for them! According to the PEW Research Center 72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year. If you don’t have a solid practice website that is easily found using search terms related to your practice and geographic location, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to drive new patient traffic to your marketing hub. A professional and polished website, should provide a clear navigation to all the necessary information related to your practice including: services, office information, what to expect, videos, testimonials, before and after photos (if applicable), directions and contact information. A successful practice website optimized for search engines (SEO) is a key component of your marketing strategy. And bear in mind that a multi-platform approach continues to be the best bet. According to comScore, almost 60% of the digital media audience in the United States visits the web via a combination of devices and “screens” – which means that your mobile website needs to be pushed up to the top of your marketing priority list in order for mobile and tablet users to have a positive experience when visiting your site.
Connecting with Your Community
Most patients are met with a variety of healthcare choices within their local market. Patients who are unsatisfied with the options available are continuing to increase their willingness to travel for appointments and procedures based upon a desire for better care. There are a number of ways to ensure potential patients consider your practice as a candidate for care. Spreading the word throughout the community can be achieved through the use of print or direct mail advertisements, sponsorship of a local team or event or attending health fairs to create recognition. Patients must first know your practice exists before they will know to bring their health care needs to you.
Failing to Measure Satisfaction
In many cases, when practice staff members are asked if patients are satisfied, they shrug and say, “Yeah. I think so.” When it comes to patient satisfaction, numbers and facts speak much louder than the opinions of those providing experiences. If your patients are leaving the office with unresolved issues, poor staff interactions and a desire to not return, your practice should know. Every patient’s experience and opinion is important, as they are the influencers within the community. Learning what the strengths and weaknesses of the practice are can lead to the development of better processes, meaningful staff training and the improvement of service as a whole.
Not Knowing What is Being Said About You
Keeping up to date with online reviews can be a helpful way to check up on patient satisfaction. It is important to monitor the information provided about your practice, to not only work to fix errors found, but also work toward resolving negative experiences patients have posted about. While most sites do not allow responses to reviews, administrators can work to identify the patient posting the comment and work backward to communicate with them and further discuss the issue encountered. Failing to monitor what is being said online about your organization can allow for inaccurate information to influence patients; both current and potential.
Failing to Engage Patients
Practices not taking the time to actively engage patients are putting themselves at risk of losing valuable consumers. As practices focus their efforts on creating a better patient experience through increased customer service, greater access to health information through patient newsletters and social media and a more convenient process for patients; those failing to evolve and integrate comparable practices will be left with patients feeling no connection to the organization. While many patients will continue to bring their care to your organization, they will not take the extra steps of referring your physicians and practice when asked by peers. Healthcare relies so heavily upon referrals; this is not something practices should leave to chance. Take the extra time to engage patients in their care and inspire them to tell others about the exceptional service they receive.
Just as other industries evolve and adjust, healthcare must strive to do the same. Consumers are in a constant state of change and those businesses unable or willing to grow with them will naturally faze themselves out. Much like the cassette tape, healthcare organizations without convenient, digital options will become overlooked. While it isn’t always necessary to be the most innovating, it is important to keep a pulse on what consumers (patients) are wanting and adapt to provide in a way that meets those desires.
About Wendy Hamel
As co-founder of Med-Marketers, and serving as Director of Client Programs, Wendy is directly responsible for guiding creative strategy and overall execution on client services for the company. Wendy has over 15 years of marketing and management experience serving technology, healthcare and retail. Prior to Med-Marketers, Wendy was the Director of Marketing at RAID, Inc. where she was instrumental in developing brand awareness and business development programs that helped the company transition into new markets and exceed vertical revenue goals. For the last 5 years, Wendy’s direct focus has been practice consulting and strategic marketing for orthodontists, orthopedic surgeons, plastic surgeons, dentists and primary care physicians within the Greater Boston area.
Her areas of expertise include patient file development, field marketing, online marketing, public relations, social media strategy, web design, SEO and collateral design.