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Creating a flexible practice: Q&A with a primary care physician

What does it take to lead a practice into the future? Adaptability and flexibility, to start. A Tennessee doctor discusses her approach to care, her online presence, and how technology will impact healthcare.

After practicing internal medicine and primary care in a variety of settings, Dr. Olawumi Akatue opened her own practice five years ago in Smyrna, Tennessee, along with Dr. Richmond Akatue, in Smyrna, Tennessee. The doctors now operate Cornerstone Medical Associates with a compassionate approach to patient care and long-term wellness. That approach is well-regarded in the community, as evidenced by their excellent patient reviews.

In her PatientPop conversation about starting a practice — and establishing that strong online presence and reputation — Dr. Akatue shares how she attracts new patients, manages patient communication, and looks to technology to help grow her practice. 

Q: What led you to start your practice, Cornerstone Medical Associates?

Dr. Akatue: I’ve worked in several different environments including hospitals, primary care, and long-term care. I’ve found out over time that I enjoy primary care the most. But I don’t like to see providers rushing to see patients in five minutes. I want to know who my patients are, and what their background is. 

For my own satisfaction and the care of my patients, we started Cornerstone. We opened our doors on April 13, 2015. It’s working really well, and I get to take the time to give patients the time and care they need. 

Q: What prompted you to rely on PatientPop to help run your practice?

Dr. Akatue: I was using another practice platform and wasn’t quite happy with it. It was fine at first, but I wanted to find a solution that would help us get our message across to patients, and let them know what we do. A colleague of mine mentioned PatientPop, and we have been a big fan ever since then. PatientPop helps us attract patients, and that contributes to our growth.

For instance, many of our patients find us on social media. Before, I had no idea how heavily patients rely on social media, especially Millennials. At least 80 percent of our patients tell us they find us through social media channels. 

Our patients also say they find out about us through our online reviews. This is the way of the future, where practices gain patients through great online reviews. 

Q: Speaking of reviews, you have a great online reputation and lots of five-star reviews. How has the patient feedback process worked for your practice over the years?

Dr. Akatue: PatientPop helps us line up patientsand after an appointment is complete, PatientPop automatically sends out a survey to each patient. I see the results of those surveys, and also reviews. 

I’m grateful that all of that happens automatically, so I can respond to patients as needed. Everyone wants good reviews. There’s no doubt that PatientPop has contributed to that process for us. The feedback from patients also helps us to know exactly what we can do better as a practice, and what we’re doing well. 

Q: You have a medical philosophy based on patient education, preventive care, and long-term wellness. How do you promote this to your patients?

Dr. Akatue: Well, the preventive care we offer leads to early detection of illness, and that leads to long-term wellness. It’s a good model to have. PatientPop helps us highlight that philosophy on our website and in other places online, so patients know what we offer and what resources are available to them. Our website highlights all of our services; it’s simple to navigate and shows our areas of expertise. We also rank well on Google.

Q: How do you stay connected with your patients and keep them coming back?

Dr. Akatue: I’ve noticed that most of our patients prefer to book their appointments online with us, using PatientPop online schedulingwhich at first, I thought was a little strange. I thought they would just go ahead and give us a call. But as I mentioned, patients like to use our website. They find it easier to make an appointment online.

So that great website, with detailed information about our practice, our service, and feedback opportunities, is important. It’s a bit part of the all-in-one practice growth platform that we get from PatientPop.

Q: What do practices need to do to thrive over the next few years?

Dr. Akatue: Flexibility is going to be the key. I think practices need to embrace technology because that’s where the healthcare industry is headed. That includes things like HIPAA-compliant scheduling, practice growth, and patient communication tools. 

Rapid change will be the norm, not the exception. Stay open to change, and stay current with the way you run your practice. And adapt quickly.

Interested in learning how to grow your primary care practice? Take a closer look: Attracting and retaining new primary care patients


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