Healthcare practice owners know that running a thriving business requires more than excellent patient care. It’s the top priority, and always will be, but managing the business end of a healthcare practice requires a different set of skills and tools that many practices don’t even know they need.
Think about it like this: Your clinical team would never perform a patient check-up without a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, and thermometer. Those are critical tools for keeping a close watch on your patients’ vital signs—their initial key health indicators. But, who’s looking after your business’ key performance indicators (KPIs)? What tools help ensure your practice is positioned for success in 2021 and long-term growth?
This type of strategic thinking usually takes a back seat to the day-to-day management concerns at any medical or dental practice: administrative functions, staff issues, regulatory requirements, safety protocols, and patient scheduling. While these are all essential to running a practice, day-to-day management addresses just that: the day to day.
If no one pays attention beyond that the following results are possible: 1. Opportunities for growth are left untapped. 2. Local competition, such as newer care settings, can squeeze practice business. 3. The practice won’t be able to support patient and staff needs in the long term.
How a practice growth platform can set up healthcare practices for long-term success
Running a thriving healthcare practice requires a commitment to the idea of practice growth, however your practice chooses to define it. Whether that means adding more patients to your practice, improving the rate of retention, or simply streamlining your administrative workflow, it’s imperative. The industry moves too quickly for “staying afloat” to be satisfactory.
Private healthcare practices are critical to the health of many communities, and physicians and other providers are the local, trusted healthcare leaders. However, with increased competition from large, hospital-owned practices and big-brand alternate care delivery settings, local practices need a business edge.
What is a practice growth platform?
To thrive as a business, your practice has to meet certain operational and financial metrics, and differentiate itself from the competition. A practice growth platform helps you accomplish this, even with limited staffing and resources, by:
- elevating your practice’s visibility online
- improving the patient experience at each touchpoint
- making it easier to manage day-to-day functions
- tracking practice activities and performance
With a truly all-in-one practice growth platform, this is just part of the picture.
Having a technology platform help manage your business is standard practice in many other industries. Organizations of all sizes rely on Salesforce to track prospects and improve sales conversion. Online retailers trust Shopify to help drive their e-commerce success. Restaurants look to platforms like Toast or Micros to simplify back-office and point-of-service functions. Likewise, healthcare practices cannot succeed without a practice growth platform.
Four must-haves when assessing a practice growth platform
How do you choose the right solution? Technology options for healthcare operations abound. Practice administrators are often overwhelmed by the choices available for online scheduling, text messaging, reputation management, website development and search engine optimization (SEO), and more.
Two overarching characteristics must be in place. First, the solution must be a single all-in-one platform. We’ve shared that adopting a single all-in-one platform to address all these needs is far more effective and cost-conscious than using a piecemeal approach. Second, a practice growth platform should integrate smoothly into your existing EMR or scheduling system — that’s optimal for reducing work, streamlining workflow, and reaching more patients.
What else should you be looking for? Here are four top tech offerings that should be part of the practice growth platform at your practice.
1. Automated tools to drive practice efficiency and reduce burnout.
Running any business can be exhausting and all-consuming. But the challenges independent practices face are truly unique, especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Changing CDC guidelines and new safety protocols just add to the ongoing concerns of decreasing reimbursement and provider burnout. It’s safe to say most practices could use a little help.
This is where the digital transformation that’s finally exploded within healthcare can offer some much-needed support. A practice growth platform automates front-office functions with tools such as online scheduling, appointment confirmations and reminders (email and two-way text messaging), and digital patient registration and intake. A practice growth platform offers it all and threads it together in one consistent experience. That helps reduce staff workload and eliminate burnout — all while meeting patient demand and improving efficiency.
2. Solutions to optimize digital performance and visibility.
Today’s world is digital. It’s just taken the healthcare industry a little while to catch up to that fact. But patients are already there: According to PatientPop survey results, 3 out of 4 patients use online resources to find out about a healthcare provider or medical care, and 58 percent do so with some regularity.
Do you know where your new patients are coming from, how they find you, and why they choose you over your competitors? More important, are you lacking new patients?
In many cases, practices have very little insight into these critical questions. The right platform can not only provide the tools necessary to expand your online presence and visibility, but it can also offer a detailed look at which digital marketing tactics are most effective. Whether it’s blogging, social media, Facebook campaigns, or Google Adwords, you’ll have the tools to focus your efforts on initiatives most likely to drive your website traffic and appointment conversions.
With this array of information and options at your fingertips, you can feel confident that your marketing dollars are most likely to deliver the ROI you’re looking for. When they’re not, you’ll know where to reallocate those resources based on data, not guesswork.
3. Patient relationship management tools to drive and measure engagement.
Thriving as a healthcare business isn’t just about acquiring new patients. It also requires staying connected and engaged with those who already entrust you with their care. You want to optimize the lifetime value of each patient’s relationship with your practice, to benefit both you and the patient.
Choose a platform that easily transitions each patient from prospect to new patient to established patient, which includes outreach opportunities via email campaigns. Strategically timed emails keep patients connected to your practice and booking future appointments.
Likewise, an effective practice growth platform empowers you to turn patients into public advocates — done most efficiently by keeping a pulse on patient sentiment through the use of automated patient satisfaction surveys. Doing so can help you:
- better identify your practice’s strengths and shortcomings
- Improve your online reputation, with more reviews and a higher average star rating
- boost your search result ranking
PatientPop survey data reveals that patients are 50 percent more likely to submit a proactive online review when they’ve been asked for feedback. That feedback is critical for winning over patients. 72.9 percent of patients said a positive reputation is important when deciding on a healthcare provider.
4. Performance tracking to monitor key metrics and evaluate success.
In any business, knowledge is power. In healthcare, where resources are limited and margins are lean, keeping an eye on certain practice performance indicators can help you stay on target to meet financial and operational goals.
Are new patient volumes increasing or decreasing? Are your marketing efforts resulting in more appointments booked? Are your patients satisfied with your providers, wait times, and general operations?
This is where the right platform provides some of the most essential value of any solution you could add to your practice. Identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) — especially in an easy-to-read practice dashboard — and being able to track these metrics and respond to the results, can help position your practice for long-term growth and success.
While it can be intuitive for healthcare practices to focus nearly all their energies on patient care, savvy practice owners understand the immense value of investing in the future of the business. Today, with the complex challenges posed by competition, payers, and patients, a comprehensive practice growth platform can be an enormous help.
Marketing a medical practice: Ideas to humanize your business online
Giving patients what they want in 2021: Top recommended actions for healthcare practices