As patients continue expanding their role as active healthcare consumers and redefining patient satisfaction, practice growth has become a cornerstone of physician and dental practice success. Every practice owner knows the digital world offers patients a thorough review of local care options and the opportunity to quickly choose a provider.
From first impressions to lasting relationships, a practice growth strategy is a necessity. In the PatientPop 2020 practice growth survey report, detailed below, 89.7 percent of healthcare and dental providers say they are in a competitive market. More than one-third call theirs highly competitive. Those without a set of practice growth tactics risk a stagnant or even declining bottom line.
How is practice growth defined? Which tactics expand a patient base or an office location? In general, practices that don’t meet patient demand for convenience and connectivity can’t build the acquisition and retention needed for growth — and won’t keep pace in 2020 with competitors who take full advantage of digital tools.
To better understand how practices are addressing evolving business needs, we asked 346 providers about their practices: what they need to succeed, their biggest frustrations, and how they manage specific tasks critical to the business of medicine in 2020.
The majority of practices report they come up short across key performance areas. The following results from the PatientPop 2020 practice growth survey report offer keys to improvement to help grow your practice in an environment that’s more challenging than ever.
- Seven-in-10 healthcare providers define practice growth as having more patients, roughly double those who define it as having more profit. (Tweet this!)
- Only 24% of providers say their practice has strong visibility in their local market. (Tweet this!)
- Despite the business impact of online reviews, 28.5% of physicians and dentists don’t actively address their online reputation. (Tweet this!)
- Providers who consider online patient reviews important to their success are more likely to report achieving key practice performance goals. (Tweet this!)
- Of practices that manage patient communication on their own, only about half say they do it effectively. (Tweet this!)
- 67.2% of healthcare providers say the in-person patient experience is most important to their practice success. (Tweet this!)
- 51% of providers under the age of 45 are optimistic about the future of private practice; only 34% of providers 45 and older feel the same. (Tweet this!)
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- How do you define practice growth?
- How satisfied are you with your practice’s current level of success?
- Which areas of practice management are most important to your practice’s success?
- Which business goals does your practice already achieve?
- How would you describe the level of competition in your market?
- What are the greatest frustrations at your practice?
- How does your practice address five key business functions?
- Which key achievements would you want most for your practice?
- How would you rate your experience working in a private practice setting?
- What is your outlook on the future of private practice?
- On a personal level, which aspect of your profession would you most like to attain?
Healthcare providers’ view of practice growth and well-being
Although aspects of practice growth can be seen as interconnected — greater profit can expand the budget for more staff, for instance — the large majority of healthcare providers define practice growth as acquiring more patients.
Data show that providers tend to define practice growth by what they need for the future rather than what they’ve already achieved. As an example, those who see greater profit as a sign of practice growth are twice as likely than others to want more revenue at their practice.
How do you define practice growth? (Select up to two.)
How satisfied are you with your practice’s current level of success?
Healthcare providers equate practice growth with patient growth by an overwhelming margin over other options. It’s easy to surmise that practices see ongoing acquisition as the key to growth and opportunity, yielding a busier schedule, greater revenue, and the need for more staff.
As practice growth becomes a widespread business focus, nearly three-in-four providers are pleased with their practice’s current success. However, further survey findings show most practices are still striving to achieve basic goals of practice performance.
Current performance at healthcare practices
Managing a successful healthcare or dental practice is immensely challenging, especially for owner-providers striking that difficult balance between caring for patients and running a business. Most report not achieving some goals that define a well-run practice, although nine-in-10 say they’re in a competitive market.
Which of these are most important to your practice’s success? (Make up to 3 selections.)
Which of these does your practice already achieve? (Select any that apply.)
How would you describe the level of competition in your market?
Here’s the clearest sign that most healthcare practices have ample room for operational improvement: The large majority are in a competitive market, but many have not fulfilled key achievements in practice success.
Only one success factor, effective patient communication, comes even close to being achieved by half of respondents, with 42.2 percent of providers saying it’s part of their practice.
More than two-thirds of providers say that delivering a top-flight in-person patient experience is key to their success. Other areas proven to help drive acquisition and retention — such as digital patient communication and a strong online reputation — were not as well-recognized.
Operational needs and frustrations
The volume of administrative demand in a medical office today — from front desk work to clinical documentation — is overwhelming. It’s no wonder the industry has expressed concern over staff and physician burnout over the last decade.
Now, with more insurance requirements — think constant pre-authorization — and lower reimbursement, it can be difficult to see the benefits of all that extra work. In fact, the top two frustrations listed by providers are related to simply getting paid for delivering care.
What are the greatest frustrations at your practice? (Check up to 3.)
How does your practice address these five business functions?
Which key achievements would you want most for your practice? (Check up to 3.)
Despite patient reviews being the most influential online resource for patients, one-quarter of surveyed practices still don’t manage their online reputation. Practice growth report data illustrate more reasons why they should: Healthcare providers who identify patient reviews as an important part of their practice success are more likely to report achieving key practice performance goals, including having strong revenue (50.6 percent more likely) and effective patient communication (28.8 percent more likely).
On the wish list of key achievements, no particular goal stands out in the results. Instead, six goals are named by at least one-quarter of all providers, indicating that practice growth is challenging across the board, not just in one area of practice management.
By investing in automation and digital services, providers can alleviate some daily frustrations — consider how automated appointment reminders reduce no-shows — and also move toward performance that can grow a practice.
Private practice: Levels of satisfaction and future optimism
Where and how doctors work was partially defined by two trends over the past decade: ongoing consolidation of health systems and acquisition of provider groups. In 2019, the American Medical Association reported that, for the first time, there were more employed physicians than those who owned their practice.
Based on the PatientPop 2020 practice growth survey, the large majority of providers (88.6 percent) have had a positive experience caring for patients in a private practice setting. However, when looking ahead to the future of private practice, the sentiment is mixed.
How would you rate your experience working in a private practice setting?
What is your outlook on the future of private practice?
On a personal level, which aspect of your profession would you most like to attain?
Although fewer than half of survey respondents (44 percent) express optimism about the future of private practice, younger healthcare providers have a brighter outlook.
Just more than half of providers (51 percent) under the age of 45 are optimistic about the future of private practice, which is a sharp comparison to those 45 and older: just 34 percent share their younger peers’ optimism.
Providers who feel positive about the future were also more likely to report achieving key practice performance goals, including having an ideal patient volume (61.8 percent more likely) and an efficient office workflow (51.8 percent more likely).
For their personal wish lists, providers prioritized care for themselves and their patients. In the ongoing struggle for a finer work-life balance, 16.4 percent would like an adjusted work schedule, while roughly one-in-five wants to care for more people each day.
The 2020s look to be the decade of choice for patients. In just the past couple of years, more care settings have popped up in local areas, more provider groups have emerged, and there are more options for the type of relationship and environment that providers can cultivate. As with any business category, more choice means greater competition. Standing out among the crowd requires meeting patient demand and having the tools to do so consistently.
As with any business, healthcare practices need a strategy and execution for growth. However that may be defined per market and business goals, the need for practice performance achievement has never been more pressing. With the majority of providers voicing a desire for improvement, now is the time to implement change — even small steps can make for a better practice operation. Transformation that positions you for the new era of digital empowerment can help grow your practice and solidify your place in the market.
PatientPop conducted a nationwide online survey of 346 healthcare providers and staff in October 2019. Responses were obtained via the SurveyMonkey Audience program. More than half of respondents work at a medical practice, with one quarter currently at a hospital setting.