If you want to grow your practice in 2019, you need to tailor your strategy around what patients want and expect. More and more, patients are moving their healthcare experience online — whether it be to learn about a condition, to find a new provider, or even make an appointment.
To keep up with patient expectations, physicians should focus on having an optimized practice website, a strong online reputation, a modern patient experience, and a streamlined front office. In this blog post, we’ve listed 11 steps that you can take that cover all four elements of practice growth.
The practice growth checklist: Try these steps today
Step 1: Optimize your website for search result rankings
For your website to help boost practice growth, you need to be able to answer one fundamental question: How good do you look to Google and other search engines? For new patients to find you online, search engines need to be able to read and index your site.
You can help boost your search result rankings by ensuring your website includes some key information and is organized in the correct way. Optimize your website by including the following:
- Useful page title, a meta description, a descriptive URL, and page headers
- Rich, useful content throughout the site with targeted keywords
- Responsive design for optimal viewing on any device, especially mobile phones
Step 2: Ensure your website conveys professional and modern branding
Your online website should be an extension of your practice. For prospective patients, it’s your chance to make a great first impression. It should be professional, including a modern design and high-quality images. Important information such as location and hours should be featured in an obvious location, and your site should be easy for visitors to use.
Your patients will expect to see:
- High-quality photos of your staff, waiting room, exam rooms, and environment
- Basic business information like location, hours, and phone number
- Patient testimonials highlighting positive experiences
Step 3: Include prominent calls-to-action on your website
Now that your website is optimized, and people are landing on it, have you directed them to take an action? Including a call-to-action, or CTA, will help you convert website visitors to patients.
We recommend having a button or navigation point on your website that says “Book an appointment” or “Call us.” For both mobile and desktop, you may want to consider online scheduling, which allows the patient to choose from a selection of open appointments. Be sure to feature your CTAs prominently on your homepage and navigation bar.
Step 4: Claim your professional profiles across third-party websites
Your online presence isn’t just limited to your website. As an independent practice, you are likely listed on third-party websites like Vitals and WebMD. Search engines consider these third-party sites as reputable, so it is possible patients will land on one of your profiles via search.
Make sure you’ve claimed each profile — that gives you the ability to update and add to it. Once you’ve claimed your profiles, fill in your basic business information, including your name, address, and phone number (known in shorthand as NAP).
Step 5: Claim, update, and optimize your Google My Business profile
When it comes to claiming your profiles, perhaps none is more important than your Google My Business profile. According to statcounter, 87 percent of all online search in the U.S. occurs on Google, so it is a high probability that this profile will come up in Google searches or Google Maps.
By claiming your Google My Business profile and updating your information, you cater to the type of information Google already indexes and displays. Optimizing your profile also gives you the opportunity to showcase photos, reviews, and a Q&A section — items that really engage and attract patients and help develop your online reputation.
Step 6: Optimize your business page on Facebook
Prospective patients are on social media, so your practice should be, too. A business page on Facebook can be optimized to drive appointments right from the Facebook website. Just like your Google My Business page, your Facebook business page should include contact information, recent photos, and a list of your services.
Your Facebook page, like other social media channels, provides the most value for your audience when it is updated regularly. Make sure to post useful content for patients on a consistent basis.
Step 7: Actively manage your online reputation
After you’ve taken the time to optimize your online presence and claimed your online profiles, it’s important that you stay on top of your online reputation. Online profiles usually allow people to leave reviews about their experience. These online reviews are increasingly influential in attracting new patients to your practice. In fact, 72 percent of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new provider, according to Software Advice.
The most important reason to check reviews regularly is to address negative feedback. Not addressing negative feedback will chip away at your reputation — particularly your average star rating — and that’s going to translate to fewer patients choosing your practice.
Step 8: Offer online scheduling
Another key component of growing your practice is enhancing the patient experience. More than ever, patients are seeking convenience from their care providers. A 2018 study by NRC Health found that more than half (51.3 percent) of healthcare consumers said convenient, easy access to care is the most important factor in their decision-making — more than insurance coverage and quality of care.
Offer your patients the ability to book directly from your website, which will help convert site visitors to new patients and reduce unfilled appointment slots.
A good online scheduling tool:
- Allows patients to book appointments on their own time
- Brings online functionality to Google and dozens of sites
- Boosts booking opportunities outside of office hours
Step 9: Send patients appointment reminders
Send your patients appointment confirmations and reminders to keep them on track of their healthcare needs. Providing a reminder adds a touch point with your patients and further increases your practice’s engagement with them. Increase the efficiency of your practice by sending automated reminders via email or SMS text.
With this type of service, you have a happy patient, but you’re increasing the amount of revenue for your practice by reducing no-shows and cancellations. If your reminders are automated with your scheduling system, you’re eliminating burdensome phone work, as well.
Step 10: Ask for feedback post-visit
After a patient visits, ask them for their feedback. Patients like to know that you are being mindful of their experience and that you are willing to listen to their concerns. Also, you can boost your online reputation by directing your patients to leave public feedback on online review sites.
Healthcare providers who work with PatientPop are able to send patient satisfaction surveys after every visit. The survey invites patients to share their positive experiences with others, if they so choose. The survey is short, simple and, best of all, effective at improving online reputation.
Step 11: Empower your staff to achieve more in less time
Offering online scheduling and automating appointment reminders not only improves your patient’s experience online, but it also reduces the workload of your front office. By introducing technology that makes your practice run more efficiently, your front staff can focus on other priorities, such as enhancing the in-person patient experience when your patients show up for a visit.
Further streamline your front office by using an online scheduling tool that integrates with your existing scheduling system. Integration offers the most streamlined experience for your patients and staff. PatientPop currently integrates with about 60 EMRs serving a variety of healthcare markets, and we’re always working to integrate with more systems.
Looking for more tips on how to grow your practice? Check out our webinar “2019 practice growth checklist: Proven steps to attract and retain more patients.”