Most specialist practices depend heavily on referrals from primary care physicians or other specialists. Our ophthalmology provider group client was no different. They had ridden the physician referrals boat for 4 years. A large part of their patient referrals were from FQHCs (federally qualified health centers). The greatest thing about tying up with FQHCs is that their referred patient volume is extremely high.
However, disaster struck as one day, our client found out that their top referring FQHC was no longer referring patients to them. This, in effect, had dried up 20% of their daily incoming referrals. That was a large hit and was prominent enough for management to take note.
As expected, the practice was scrambling to fill in the lost new patient appointment channel. They started investing in digital marketing and the physician liaisons ramped up their door to door marketing activities.
When we engaged with this ophthalmology group, one of our suggestions included community outreach. This, in our experience, would allow the provider group to start establishing themselves in the communities they served, in addition to being able to stand up a new patient acquisition source as well. Our analysis showed that 90%+ revenues depended on referring partners. This, according to our practice management best practices was unacceptable.
While we did recommend starting with community outreach, our customer’s staff was not trained in community outreach. In addition to that, no one on staff had any interest in cold calling the neighborhoods. The customer’s staff was OK with taking inbound appointment requests but were not willing to make 100s of outbound calls per day to their neighborhoods, in order to introduce their employer.
We put together a community outreach team with our patient contact center expertise. To get started, we identified zip codes around our customer’s locations. Then, we reached out to InfoUSA and purchased “people data” (aka consumer lists) for those zip codes. We limited our customer audience to age 40+ (ophthalmology patients are, of course, on the older side). Since a large part of our customer’s patient population had Medicare/Medicaid, we targeted the customer audience at a predetermined income range as well. There was no point in calling homes wherein patients were younger and at work all day. This gave us about 30,000+ patients to introduce our customer’s eye care clinics to.
We tracked all our efforts by using EzHealthCRM and made dials using EzPatientEngage. Keep in mind that these patients are all “consumer list” / “leads” only and none of these patients were in the customer’s EMR. We started with 1 person calling the list of 30K patients.
Net results – our customer started adding an average of 40 new patients per month.