Regardless of whether you want to ramp up the value of your practice for sale or to expand your current practice for a branding and revenue boost, there are a number of ways to do so.
Medicine and healthcare has moved beyond merely treating sickness to one seeking ideal health combining mind, body and spirit. Patients are looking for services that make them feel that they are being treated as a person, even pampered and cared for.
Adding supplementary services, especially those that involve participation of other professionals, increases the value of a practice.
1. Medical Spa
Doctors not only perform but also supervise treatments done by licensed and trained aestheticians along with nurses and nurse practitioners. Services include nutritional programs including diets and vitamin supplements, skin therapy, hair removal, facials, massages, facial fillers, liposuction, biofeedback
2. Content Marketers
Outsource professionals who can blog for you on a regular basis and create your newsletter. They can convey your message on a consistent basis while you spend your time tending to patients and the practice.
3. Patient Portals
According to Meaningful Use of the ACA, at least 5 % of your patients have access to communications with your practice through a portal. Encourage your patients to use this and to ask you the questions or discussions that they will want to cover when they see you in the office. Then, you can better prepare them for a more efficient time while they are with you.
4. Virtual Consultations
For patients that are too far to travel or who cannot travel due to disabilities, consider having office consultations with your patient through Skype or another visual communication.
B. Create Enticing Ambiance
Look around your office with a set of fresh eyes. How does it really look? What does your office say about your healthcare? You don’t have to spend a tremendous amount of money redecorating but at the same time, it is crucial that your office represents you…clean, neat and efficient.
No one wants to sit on torn chairs with grimy armrests and no one wants to see mold in ceiling corners and peeling paint. Consider these two scenarios.
A patient presents to your office for minor surgery, which will be performed in your mini-surgical suite. She is anxious and looking around while waiting her turn. Pre and post op instructions have been given as well as a lengthy description of the procedure, risks and what to expect.
You have been diligent about every detail and pride yourself on your care and caring. But have you?
While furtively looking around, waiting to be called, she sees stained seat cushions and one or two that are ripped. The decor was fashionable in the late 80s but has not been decorated since.
Your rationale for not redoing the waiting room- with only 3rd party reimbursement to depend on for profits, you operate on only a slim margin. The condition of the waiting room is partially due to the inconsiderate patients and their unruly children.
Patient’s rationale- maybe I should run before it’s too late. I was recommended to this doctor because of excellent skills and knowledge. But if the waiting room is unsanitary, maybe the surgical room or surgical instruments are not cared for or unsanitary as well. Maybe if the doctor doesn’t pay attention to office details then he doesn’t take care of medical details either.
Is this the impression that you hope to impart?
The patient is ushered into a private waiting area and a medical assistant enters the room to go over any last questions that the patient may have. Reassurance is given and she gets to watch her favorite television programs to distract her from her tension. As she waits, she looks around admiringly at the décor, which is classic but timeless.
Patient’s thoughts- if the doctor takes such great care to details with the office, and my comfort, he is probably very empathetic and will make sure that I am comfortable throughout my whole ordeal.
Your surgical skills may be the same in both scenarios and the surgical suite may be the same as well. The image that your office portrays about you however is vastly different and speaks volumes about who you are and your brand.
C. Increasing Patients
Peruse the rating sites on a regular basis to ensure that your ratings are good. If there are negative ones, read the criticism carefully. If the remarks are valid, try to change the problem and view this as an opportunity for improvement. You can make the amendments known in your comments.
Consider having your favorite patients write testimonials and high ranks for the site so that they will be readily seen and take top priority when prospective patients view the online sites.
Keep in touch with your referring physicians. Let them know that you are still accepting new patients and that you would be very happy to do so. When you have had the opportunity to consult with a patient that your referring chain has sent, be sure to send a thank you note and progress note with treatment plan expeditiously.
Getting your name out before prospective patients helps to snare them in your database.
Things to try:
1. Offer free eBooks to everyone that attends your teleseminars
2. Offer a webinar
3. Volunteer your time for community health fairs
4. Offer a free examination or consultation to be auctioned off at a local charity event
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5. Offer to speak at the Library or medical associations- offer a copy of your slides to anyone that emails you requesting them (thereby capturing their name and email for your database)
D. Keeping Patients
A prospective patient has just scheduled an appointment to be seen by you. The thing is, will that patient stay with you?
Is there loyalty between patients and physicians? That depends. Do you make it worth their while?
Patients want value for their experience with a physician.
Do you provide:
• A cheerful staff that smiles and address patients by their name?
• Friendly staff that introduces themselves and their positions?
• Convenient appointment times (and changes)?
• A short time in the waiting room before being seen?
• The ability for patients to interact, ask questions and most importantly, have them answered?
• Explain solutions in a way that patients can understand without being over their head or too simplified?
• Respect for patients as individuals?
• Printed instructions for how to take medications with possible side effects
• Postoperative instructions or a sheet on what to expect?
Patients want to have engagement. They want to be asked their input…what they want, what they feel, what they fear. They want to feel that not only do they understand what is going on with them, but also understand their treatment options and what is available in both the traditional and alternative care realms. That doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to provide alternative care but it is key that you can point them in the right direction in terms of reliable sources versus bogus sites.
Patients also want to feel important.
Simple medical marketing and loyalty steps go a long way.
- • Sending gratitude cards or emails for choosing
- Thank you cards for patients that were referred by current patients
- • Birthday cards
These are simple steps that staff members can send out (with simple computer programming)
Make patients feel that they count. Patients don’t want to feel that they are just “a number”. They want to feel that they count. The entire experience is crucial to retention from that first phone call setting up the appointment, to the professional encounter and beyond.
The perception that you as the doctor, cares is crucial.
After all, it is more economical to keep a patient and get referrals from existing patients than to have to constantly look for prospective patients. (And it is much more rewarding from a physician-patient relationship).
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