20 million more Americans have become eligible to get health insurance coverage since the enrollment started following the passing of the Affordable Care Act. That number includes around 11 million people who have enrolled through the state and federal insurance exchanges and a few through the new employee-sponsored health coverage.
If you are a medical practice that wants to bring in these potential patients, here are five, simple, low cost methods. Once started, you can see your patient base increasing without much effort.
The internet is king, especially for Millennials and Generation Z. They check it to get information about everything. So, if you already have a good number of positive patient reviews online, then you are on track to receive more patients. If not, then you need to make venues for patients to write reviews about your care provision. A quick view of what other patients have written about you will give an insight about your online review status and you want to keep at least a ⅘ rating, so as to not lose potential patients. Check out websites like Yelp, Angie’s List, ZocDoc, Healthgrades, etc. If you find many negative reviews about a particular service, then get down to the problem and improve the quality of service.
It would be easy to start this process by talking to your long-term patients, taking an opinion about your practice and if you get a positive feedback, asking them to share it as an online review. Keep checking the number of online reviews intermittently and as the positive reviews increase, you will see an increase in the number of potential new patients.
While most of them use LinkedIN, doctors may be reluctant about using social media sites like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for business. It may not be the best medium to communicate sensitive data, but there are safer ways to take advantage of this mass communication platform to gain more potential patients.
Start by encouraging your existing patients to follow your business on Twitter and Instagram, or ‘Like’ the Facebook page. Once the patients like or retweet your posts or updates, their friends can see it. Depending on how interesting your posts look, this will drive user traffic to your page and the services offered at your medical practice will have more visibility. The page should be attractively designed to engage the new visitors and prompt them to ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ the page.
You can also create a Youtube channel to give wellness tips, discuss and answer questions about general health issues, announce local health programs and also give positive information about your medical practice. The Youtube channel can be promoted through your other social media sites and it can be used to engage with other prominent organizations in your community. This way a lot of people can get to know about your business.
Coordinate your administrative services through online appointments/patient portals(they need to be up to date and working well and quickly) instead of phone calls. This would be a great hit among younger patients. People generally don’t want to waste time or call to make appointments and they can avoid that by using your latest technology and apps through their phones to check the availability of appointments. If you make it easy for them to come in, there will be a good word of mouth advertisement that will spread in your favor.
Using ‘Patient Portals’ to let your patients see their lab results is also a good idea and is a great alternative to making a phone call or coming in for an unnecessary visit. You should also make it a practice to check your email and give prompt replies. These little things will save time for your employees and patients and still be on track. The Internet Journal of Healthcare Administration notes that patient no-shows reduced by 36% when appointment reminders were sent as a text message; so it would not be a bad idea to invest in an automatic text reminder system.
Again, when patients are happy with the service they receive, they will refer their friends and family to you. Technology enables you to get more patients easily, while retaining already existing ones, and it would also increase patient satisfaction scores.
Do you or your representative participate in fundraising events or community service projects? Community service is a great way to get noticed and build a positive image for your medical practice. If you are known to contribute to a charitable cause, such as a silent auction or cancer walk, take it as a chance to let people know about your business and organize another event, like a dinner-dance that would benefit a nearby school. Always accept invitations to a conference / discussion that gives you the opportunity to expand your network. Be proactive to support a new community in all means you can and you will get noticed by new people who will definitely become, or refer to you, your potential patients.
Be responsive and up to date to the changing demography in your community and patient population. Add adequate number of staff if you notice an increase in the number of patients in a particular specialty. Recruit adequate staff to widen your current services and it is also a good idea to add new services to meet the needs of new patients. Promote the new services through strategic advertisements to the target audience. If your patient base includes pregnant women or young children, hire a dedicated pediatrician. And if an employer lays off a huge number of employees in your community, consider a reasonable direct payment option for the uninsured. If you see that your business is being affected by a small clinic at a drugstore, consider employing a physician assistant to do standard medical exams and prescribe medications.
Always be aware of what people need. Be a step ahead and predict the future. By meeting the demands in your community on time, you can increase the number of potential patients and increase the success for your business.