Independent healthcare practice owners and managers wear many hats, especially when running with a lean staff. The responsibilities are numerous and pressing: Caring for and communicating with patients. Hiring and training new providers and staff. Managing insurance contracts. Marketing. The list goes on.
The hectic day-to-day operations of running a busy healthcare practice makes it challenging to set aside the time needed to develop a long-term growth plan. Savvy practice owners know that healthcare practices don’t just grow organically over time.
Steady practice growth and long-term success require a concerted, coordinated effort that includes a) establishing a strategy for growth; b) setting and measuring practice goals to satisfy that strategy, and c) focusing on aspects of both patient acquisition and retention to achieve those goals.
Keys to successful healthcare practice growth: Setting goals, measuring progress
Whether you’re seeking modest or aggressive growth, you’ll need to identify what success looks like for your practice.
Too many practices focus their business growth goals largely on new patient acquisition; but success demands more than just a reliance on adding new patients. The real long-term business boost to your practice comes from keeping your current patients coming back. Without the implementation and measurement of patient retention tactics, you risk losing out on return patient volume — by ignoring the lifetime value of each patient, you short-change your opportunities and return revenue and positive care outcomes. Aspects of practice growth can also be realized by improving your practice operations, streamlining workflows, and limiting overhead expenses.
With all this in mind — and it can be a lot to manage — it’s important to examine your growth goals on a regular basis, at least once or twice a year. But there’s a catch to getting started: setting goals is difficult if you don’t know how your practice currently performs in key strategic growth areas. It’s also a waste of time if you don’t have a way to track performance on an ongoing basis.
How do you start identifying and tracking KPIs (key performance indicators) for your healthcare practice? If you’re a newly opened practice, or haven’t identified and tracked KPIs before, where do you start? You’ll need insight into the key metrics that support your healthcare practice goals.
For example, where are your new patients coming from? Do you know why new patients choose you? How about the keywords that are most often leading patients from Google search to your website? Tracking performance metrics such as these can help you identify strengths and shortcomings, and nail down what’s needed to meet your practice growth goals.
Building a practice performance scorecard: Identifying meaningful healthcare practice performance indicators
You already know that attracting new patients doesn’t happen by chance. Patient acquisition is often the culmination of a variety of marketing, advertising, and operational tactics designed to raise awareness and preference for your practice.
Similarly, keeping patients on your roster doesn’t come easily in today’s competitive landscape. In fact, in the PatientPop third annual patient perspective survey, 36.4 percent of patients said they switched healthcare providers in the past two years. As most practice owners know, a multitude of complex factors drive patient satisfaction and can fluctuate over time.
Achieving sustainable practice growth requires keeping a close watch on the key performance indicators that support both patient acquisition and patient retention. Here is a list of KPIs to consider tracking as you plan a scorecard for your long-term growth strategy.
- Incoming patient leads: Knowing the number of leads coming into your practice is a basic need, it’s Business Management 101. It’s critical to track the source of each new lead (phone call, online inquiry, text message) and whether they are a new or a returning patient. These simple insights can help you determine how well your marketing strategies are working and can help guide refinements in your outreach efforts.
- Conversion rate: After a patient seeks out your practice, how often are they booking an appointment? This is called the conversion rate, and it should be measured for every contact point with which a patient can book or request an appointment (at minimum, online scheduling and phone).Obviously, you want your online and phone experience to be appealing enough to encourage a patient to make an appointment if it suits their needs. You also never want to lose out on a prospective patient, so make any communication process easy, especially the steps needed to schedule an appointment. Make this initial and essential point in the patient experience as convenient as possible.
- Website performance: Your website is you. It’s your brand, your practice, your services, and your place in the community. It’s the one online source on which you and your practice have the most control.Because your website is such a critical — and ultimately, influential — asset, you should routinely monitor its audience and performance. Keep an eye on your page load speeds, number of visitors, and where they’re coming from, as well as key demographic information such as age. The right selection of website KPIs for your practice can really help you keep a pulse on your growth potential.
- Web presence and search engine optimization: If you lack a strong overall online presence, or your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts can’t compete in your market, you won’t be able to connect digitally with patients looking for a healthcare provider. To understand your current status in the web world, you have to monitor your Google search rankings for major keywords related to your specialty, and the prevalence and accuracy of your online profile listings (Google My Business, WebMD, Vitals, Facebook, and more). This allows you a clearer view of what’s driving new patient volume.
- Online reputation: How important are patient reviews? PatientPop survey research tells us 74 percent of patients find reviews very or extremely important when searching for a healthcare provider. Furthermore, 69 percent won’t even consider a practice with an average star rating lower than 4.0 out of 5.
To properly monitor your online reputation, add these three KPIs to your scorecard: patient review volume, review frequency, and average star ratings. You can also track overall patient sentiment with a simple positive or negative notation, measured as a percentage of all reviews.
This all helps you keep a watchful eye on your patient satisfaction. But tracking reputation goes even further: because reviews can impact your search rankings, a positive online reputation means more website traffic.
The values of creating a practice performance scorecard
Once you’ve identified the metrics that matter most, use them to create a practice performance scorecard. Sharing your “grades” across your practice on a regular basis can help ensure the whole team (including providers and practice staff) understands what you’re working toward, and how you’re performing all year long.
Take it even further by helping staff within each role (schedulers, front-desk team, medical assistants) understand which metrics they can personally impact (and how!). This collaborative outreach can really help your staff feel invested and even curb that feeling of burnout. It creates a shared mission, fostering a sense of teamwork and accountability that can drive better performance.
The solution for a practice performance tracker? A comprehensive practice growth platform
While there are many ways to track and measure groups of healthcare practice metrics, there are substantial benefits to using an all-in-one growth platform. As part of the platform, the PatientPop practice growth dashboard presents all the metrics outlined above, all in one place.
Deeper, detailed reports are just a click away, for everything from appointments booked and search result rankings to metrics related to ad buys. With one platform, displaying all related practice tasks and KPIs, you don’t have to manage numerous, disparate applications and vendors — a frequent situation that leads to serious practice management headaches and costs.
With a true practice performance dashboard, you get instant access to your practice’s strengths and weaknesses in real-time. In short, it’s all the information needed to set and refine your practice growth strategy. For today’s digital demand, this is how you understand the development of your long-term strategy, and set up your practice to achieve your growth goals.
What is a practice growth platform and how can it help private practices achieve 2021 goals?