The Practice Growth Podcast is an educational resource for doctors, dentists, and other healthcare providers about how to market and manage a thriving healthcare practice.
In Episode 5, host Jessica Neyer is joined by Travis Schneider, PatientPop co-founder and co-CEO. The pair discusses how healthcare providers can ensure they’re found by prospective patients online, how they can convince those people to schedule appointments, and how they can keep patients coming back again and again. Click below to listen.
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Jessica Neyer: Just outside of the PatientPop offices in Santa Monica is a retail shopping area called the Third Street Promenade. I pass dozens of shops as I walk down the Promenade every day to pick up lunch. To attract me, their potential customer, these retailers need to anticipate what motivates me to make a purchase. If I become their customer, they need to understand what they must do to get me to buy again, and again, and again.
The same is true with healthcare practices. Understanding how prospective patients find your practice, why they decide to schedule an appointment, and why they stay or leave is essential for growth. That’s the topic of today’s podcast.
Hello and welcome to the Practice Growth Podcast, the doctor’s resource for marketing and managing a thriving healthcare practice. I’m Jessica Neyer. With me to discuss prospective patient motivators is Travis Schneider, co-founder and co-CEO of PatientPop. Travis, thanks so much for taking the time to be with us.
Travis Schneider: Thank you, Jessica. Excited to be here with you.
Jessica: Let’s jump right into it. The name of today’s podcast is “A Patient Journey from Prospect to a Loyal Patient.” I thought we’d kick things off by asking your perspective on how patient behavior is changing.
Travis: Excellent. I think from our perspective, previous generations took a very passive approach to their relationship with doctors. For example, it’s not uncommon previously to have had the same doctor for years and years and years and. When it was time to see a different doctor, typically, you would just get a referral from your existing provider, and you’d go see that new doctor, no question is asked.
Today, for a variety of reasons, patients are now shopping for doctors, and that shopping experience is happening online. What I mean by that is it’s not uncommon to see patients go on Google to search for a doctor. Then, they’ll go to the doctor’s website to learn more. They might even go to a review site to read reviews on that provider before making their purchasing decision. Finally, when it comes time to actually book an appointment, that’s happening online now, too.
Jessica: You mentioned that, when people actually book an appointment, it’s all happening online. Is there anything that a doctor should do to their website to drive traffic in that would convert a potential patient into an actual patient?
Travis: Yeah, absolutely. Sometimes we think of it as, what would we do today if we had a practice? And I think any provider today needs to think about a number of things, and the first thing they should think about is their online presence.
What does that mean? So, today, there’s a whole universe of websites out there that patients are going to to look for providers. If I was a provider today, I’d want to make sure I was highly visible across that entire universe of sites. That would be my Step 1. Step 2 is I then want to drive those patients to a proper website where it’s really easy for them to learn about my practice and book an appointment.
Jessica: Let’s break that down a little bit. We said you need to first focus on your web presence. What should a doctor do to make sure they cover all their bases when it comes to their web presence?
Travis: The first thing a provider should do is they need to use technology, because there’s too many sites out there to manage on a manual process. Right? Doctors don’t have time as it is, let alone spending that time scouring the internet to find their profile.
So there’s technology solutions out there. PatientPop is obviously one of them. Through an automated process, you can scan these universe of sites, identify all of the information out there that might need to be updated, and then, through an automatic or technology solution, update all of that information.
Jessica: If they find you through your amazing web presence, they go to your website. They decide they want to book an appointment and they do. Is there anything that the provider should do to prevent the patient from not showing to their appointment? I know that’s an issue, too.
Travis: Yeah, absolutely because as we all know, booking an appointment is not a guarantee that the patient’s actually going to show up, right? There are still friction points between when someone books and when someone shows that a provider should use technology to remove those friction points.
Additionally, a factor that can create friction is insurance intelligibility. A lot of patients book an appointment only to find out down the road that that practice doesn’t take their insurance, and then what happens? They don’t show up. Having the ability to verify the insurance information at the time of booking is one thing that a provider should do to remove a friction point.
Another thing one should do is provide automated appointment reminders, right? I’m a busy patient, I’ve got a lot going on, it’s easy for me to miss an appointment or show up late. Practices today should adopt appointment reminders where the patient can receive an email or a text message to remind them to show up on time. Those are two examples.
Jessica: Sounds good to me. We talked about booking the patient, and let’s pretend that the patient does show up. It’s great, we have the visit. What we know as a patient is you forget about your doctor automatically. What should the doctor be doing to stay top of mind with our patients?
Travis: So, I think there’s two important strategies that a doctor should be mindful of as when it relates to their relationship with their patient post appointment. One strategy that’s really important today is reputation management. So, when that patient leaves their appointment, it’s really important to use that period of time to collect feedback on the appointment itself. Getting that feedback can be really constructive, right? There’s a lot of issues that are happening at a practice that the doctor has no idea about, so getting the feedback can really help a practice improve their overall patient experience.
And then the second thing is to nurture the relationship with the patient once they’re out of the office. Knowing when to message the patient, maybe with an email communication to let them know, “Hey, it’s time for your annual checkup.” Right? If practices aren’t doing that today, it’s really easy for the patient to forget and the doctor’s missing out on the opportunity to have them come back in. Using email automation, things like that to message the patient to say, “Come back in for your appointment,” or to message them about, perhaps, a special offer or new service that you’re providing, that’s pretty critical.
Jessica: Let’s say … healthcare providers … want to attract more patients and improve their patient experience, but they don’t have time to tackle such a big project. What would be your advice for them?
Travis: There’s really two options today. One option is the traditional approach, which is to go out into the market, identify all of the different things that need to get done, and hire a vendor to do each and every one of them. What we typically see is that they’re hiring a website designer, a reputation management firm, a firm that does appointment reminder, and someone to do social media. That’s incredibly time consuming and it’s not only time consuming, but it’s also very expensive.
The alternative, which is the new approach, is the approach that we’re applying here at PatientPop, is to provide a single solution like we have that gives the practice everything they need to win online in a single all in one platform.
Jessica: So, really, you have someone else doing the work for you?
Travis: It’s impossible for a provider to think that they can do all of this on their own.
Jessica: I’m sure. How can they?
Travis: Ten years ago, maybe it’s a different story. Why? Because 10 years ago, we didn’t have review sites. We didn’t have marketplaces online like Zocdoc, Vitals, and Yelp where people were going. So maybe 10 years ago, a provider could get away with spending some time after hours cobbling together a little website. But today that approach is impossible. They’ll never single-handedly be able to manage everything that has to be done in an effective way.
Jessica: It sounds like if you’re a provider, you need to find the platform that works for you. Travis, thank you so much for being with us today. See you soon.
Travis: Thank you.