Like most private practices, attracting and retaining more patients is critical for your business success. But managing market competition and change can often get in the way. Many practices faced significant pressures in 2020 — clinical, operational, and financial. The presence of COVID-19 halted regular plans for patients and providers, and forced major adjustments in care.
As the COVID-19 vaccines become available and are distributed across the country, now is the time to review and readjust your approach to practice management and growth for 2021. The year should be focused on growing your business as the country emerges on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the new year, take advantage of the proven, time-tested tactics for patient acquisition and retention. At the same time, expand your use of virtual tools that streamline appointments, office tasks, and patient communication.
Use the following checklist to review which tactics you’ve already completed, as well as those you’ll need to tackle in 2021 to attract new patients and keep them coming back. Consider each item an opportunity to grow your practice this year and beyond.
Your website is a great place to make a positive first impression with patients. But that experience is not only about your site’s look and feel.
In addition to looking sharp, clean, and readable, and providing all the key information about your practice, every healthcare practice website needs more. Your site must be written, designed, and built in a way that tells search engines to find it. This is search engine optimization (SEO), a key element of an effective patient acquisition strategy.
Fully optimizing your website — for patients and search engines — requires a keen understanding of how search engines work. It also demands exceptional, informative copy and imagery, and a clear and concise call to action. That invitation for website visitors to take action is usually to book an appointment or find out more information, both of which should be supported on your website and via phone.
This full optimization of your website will help prospective patients find you, learn about your services and, ultimately, schedule an appointment. Here is the list of critical elements needed to ensure your site is ready to support your 2021 growth strategy.
My practice website is optimized for the best possible rankings in search results.
- All web pages have a helpful title, well-written meta description, and URLs that answer search queries.
- Features rich content about my practice and services, with a single web page dedicated to each service.
- Has a responsive design — it adapts to any browser size to look and work great on any device.
My practice website conveys a professional, modern brand.
- Includes high-quality photos that showcase my office (interior and exterior), staff, and services.
- Prominently features testimonials that demonstrate a high level of patient satisfaction.
- Has blog posts and site content that establish my medical expertise, and answer patients’ most common questions.
My practice website is optimized to convert visitors into patients.
- Includes prominent calls to action (CTAs) that drive appointment bookings.
- Offers one-click calling to my practice office.
- Has easy online booking for patients that syncs with my office calendar.
Healthcare consumers do the majority of their research and decision-making online, as we all do for just about any service. But checking out your practice is not all taking place on your website, where you have control over what prospective patients see.
According to the PatientPop 2020 patient perspective survey, 70 percent of people check online reviews on sites like Vitals, WebMD, and Yelp before making a decision. Facilitating a positive online reputation can be done, but it takes time and a commitment to following best practices. Here are steps to help demonstrate to prospective patients that your practice delivers an exemplary experience, and is the best choice for their healthcare needs.
I have claimed my profiles on healthcare, business, and directory websites.
- I have claimed my professional profile on each website where my practice and provider listing appears. I have ensured my contact information (name, office address, phone number, and website URL) and business hours are correct.
- I have optimized each profile with rich, detailed content and high-quality photos.
I have claimed and audited my practice’s Google My Business listing.
- I have claimed our listing, and added or confirmed my office location, business hours, and specialty, so they show up in filtered searches.
- I regularly update our Google My Business listing with new photos and rich content.
- I have added a few questions and answers to our Google listing’s “Questions & Answers” section.
- Patients can book an appointment through our Google business profile.
- I use Google Posts to share news and special offers.
My practice has a business page on Facebook.
- Our Facebook page includes contact information, and recent photos of our practice and providers.
- I regularly post useful news and other information to my Facebook followers.
- I have enabled reviews on my Facebook business page.
I proactively manage our online reputation.
- We monitor any online patient comments, feedback, or reviews on a daily basis.
- I reply to negative reviews swiftly and respectfully, and work to resolve any issues directly with patients offline.
- I thank reviewers who give positive feedback and add patient testimonials to my practice website.
In a world of increasing competition, patient retention is critical for continued growth. As part of their overall experience, patients put a premium on convenience, and they want to feel valued. PatientPop research shows that 69.4 percent of patients would switch doctors for convenience or a better experience. This tells us that any investments made into enhancing the patient experience position your practice for long-term rewards. Here are tried-and-true tactics designed to help modernize and enhance that experience.
My practice offers online scheduling.
- Patients can book appointments directly via our practice website, 24/7.
- Patients can book or request appointments via Google, and across a variety of third-party websites.
We send appointment reminders to reduce no-shows and improve each patient’s experience.
- My practice sends multiple automated appointment reminders via email and two-way SMS/text.
- My patients are able to confirm, cancel, or reschedule their appointments digitally.
Our patients can easily share post-appointment feedback.
- Patients have the opportunity to provide feedback through multiple channels, including email and SMS/text.
- Patients can easily share their experiences on review websites including Google.
Eliminating time-consuming, manual tasks is a strong strategy that creates efficiencies, and can improves patient and staff satisfaction — while also supporting your practice’s cost-containment efforts. Ditching old-school paperwork and archaic phone call reminders by employing a virtual practice model can help support your 2021 practice growth in ways your staff will appreciate. Kick off the new year by automating tedious front-office tasks using the following list as a guide.
My front-office staff has the technology to accomplish tasks with less work, in less time.
- My practice sends automated appointment reminders, so staff does not have to manually contact patients.
- Online appointment bookings automatically sync with our appointment calendar.
- Patients can fill out registration and intake forms online before appointments, saving time for staff and patients.
- Staff uses a digital fax service to share and receive key information, eliminating the need to wait by a fax machine.
- My practice uses email marketing campaigns to share medical and practice information with patients, and to drive patient recall and retention.
- My practice tracks business performance metrics, including attainment of patient acquisition and retention goals.