Like many healthcare practitioners, you’re wondering how to get more patients throughout the holiday season. Multiple studies have revealed emergency rooms are very busy this time of year, but November and December are the slowest months across specialties, according to a study of 2016 appointment data.
During the holidays, successful patient engagement is a bit more challenging, but it’s certainly not impossible. Here are several approaches you can take to keep your waiting room full the rest of the year.
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7 patient engagement strategies to try this holiday season
Share timely content
Get patients’ attention by writing original blog posts on hot holiday topics, such as how to avoid overindulging at holiday parties or how to battle holiday stress. People are more likely to practice unhealthy habits during this time of year and subsequently think about improving their health, so this relevant content will capture their attention.
Writing blog content is the first step, but don’t stop there. Share the posts on social media and email them to patients to get in front of as many people as possible. According to a live poll during a recent PatientPop webinar, only about one-third of practices are employing this holiday tactic, so there’s room to make a mark with patients.
Keep patients in the loop
Simply staying in touch during the holidays is one of the most effective patient engagement tools. Share updates on special holiday hours and closures, so people can easily fit appointments into their schedule. This can also serve as a reminder to make an appointment in the first place.
If you’re offering any special holiday promotions, reaching out to let patients know about them is also a wise move. Advertising these offers on your website is a start, but you’ll also want to get the word out by posting on social media and sending an email blast.
Send helpful reminders
For many, the holiday season is the busiest time of year. Despite that, most people aren’t unwilling to squeeze in a healthcare appointment — but they might need a little push.
If you’re trying to figure out how to get patients into your office, focus on practical matters. For example, send an email reminding them to use their flexible spending balance before December 31 or a quick prompt to get a flu shot.
Check out: How to automate appointment reminders and routine practice tasks
Be active on social media
Social media offers ample patient engagement strategies, so use it to your advantage. Do something creative like gathering your staff to create a festive YouTube video or challenging patients to post a photo of their healthy habits to Facebook for a fun contest.
You could also highlight your expertise by hosting a holiday-themed Twitter chat. Address common seasonal issues related to your field or a topic that’s been notably popular with your patients this year.
Share holiday greetings
‘Tis the season to send holiday cards to friends and family, so don’t forget your patients. Save time and money by putting your well wishes into digital card. This is a popular choice of holiday marketing messaging for providers: 41 percent of polled practices say they choose to simply thank patients and send good wishes this time of year.
Just remember everyone doesn’t celebrate the same holiday. Steer clear of greetings that focus on certain religious holidays (e.g. “Merry Christmas!”) because you don’t want to inadvertently ostracize a portion of your patient roster.
More on this: Holiday patient marketing ideas for doctors
Use paid advertising to incite action
60 percent of holiday shopping is expected to take place online, according to the 2018 Deloitte Holiday Retail Survey. Take advantage of this by using paid healthcare advertising to get in front of your patient base.
Getting in front of patients is key, and strategies like a Google ad campaign can make this happen. Structure each ad around a business driver (e.g. sales or appointments), and always include a call-to-action (CTA).
Get help: Marketing your private practice with paid advertising
Launch a holiday giving campaign
If you’re wondering how to get patients in the holiday spirit, giving back could be the answer. Choose a local charity and sponsor a giving campaign.
Promote the cause on your website, blog, social media accounts, and your office. Honor those who choose to contribute by publicly displaying their name on a donor list — with their permission, of course. This is a great way to give back to the community, while connecting with your patients.
When presented properly, health engagement strategies can capture patients’ attention during the holiday season. For more information on successful patient engagement during the holiday season, check out the webinar “Why patient holiday marketing works — and how to get it right for a strong start to 2019.”