Like any business, to ensure your medical practice remains profitable and sustainable you need to attract new customers (patients) and ensure you retain your existing ones. In this current healthcare landscape, where patients have more choice and convenient medical check-up locations at their disposal than ever before, gone are the days when patients stick to one family GP for all of their healthcare needs. Ensuring a healthy flow of patients to your practice can seem a bit daunting, but don’t despair.
We’ve put together a few important tips that can help you increase patient visits.
Use your patient data to your advantage
Electronic medical record (EMR) systems bring a lot more to the table than better patient care and more efficient practice management efficiency. The comprehensive and orderly data that the EMR captures and stores can also be used to alert you to patients who are due for medical check-ups and screenings. For example, you can receive alerts of chronic patients such as those with diabetes or hypertension who are due for a follow-up appointment. You can also be alerted to younger patients on your system who require their next round of immunisations and vaccinations. Lastly, the data can also indicate how long it’s been since your patients last visited your practice and if it’s time for their annual check-up to ensure that they are still healthy and are on schedule for appropriate screenings.
Having an EMR system in place will not only notify you about these patients but can also alert the patient by way of automated email and SMS reminders. These reminders encourage participation from our patients by telling them why they need to make an appointment with you and even suggest appointment dates. Following up with patients has never been so easy.
Encourage referrals and reviews
Word-of-mouth is always a powerful way to generate new business but word of mouth these days is less about in-person referrals and typically takes place online. There are numerous apps and websites available on which consumers are encouraged to provide a rating and a short description of their experience of a certain restaurant, for example. As a medical practice, you can also take advantage of this online trend by encouraging your patients to share their experience of your practice online. For example, this can be done by sending a follow-up email after the patient’s visit requesting them to review you online.
If you have a Facebook business page you can encourage your patients to like it, give you a rating out of five stars and write a review. Not only is this service free but it can go a long way in building your reputation as not only an engaged and tech-savvy practice, but also one that is open to resolving any criticisms you may receive. As we’ve come to realise, patients are just like any other consumer in that they tend to be more honest when they are sitting behind a computer or cell phone screen.
Digital appointment booking platforms like RecoMed also have a useful rating system in place where patients can rate your service and leave any comments. And last but not least there’s the big one Google Reviews, which tends to be the first thing the consumer will see when looking up your medical practice online.
Connect with your patients
Touching on our previous point, it’s now unthinkable not to have a social media presence online to grow your brand awareness among both existing and potential new patients. Setting up a Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn business page is not only free but a sure way of remaining in the forefront of your patient’s mind. Not only do these platforms enable you to provide information your service (practice hours, closing times, location and general practice updates), but you can also share healthcare tips from credible health information sources, for example. Social media doesn’t have to be a burdensome task nor is it something to be weary of. As long as it’s used to open communication between your practice and your patients and strictly doesn’t offer healthcare advice, your practice staff can easily incorporate it into their daily workflow or even engage on the go via their mobile device.
There’s a good chance your millennial patients will connect with you solely through social media channels, so it’s also important to have an attractive and informative website where patients can find out more about you and the services you offer, and how they can reach you via contact and location information. This can also be used to communicate forms of payment you accept, whether you administer medical aid claims and useful health information from credible sources to help patients participate in and take ownership of their health and well being. Because at the end of the day, healthy patients should remain your number one priority.