How to grow your medical practice

How to grow your medical practice? Read creative ways to increase patient volume in medical practice. We grew from 2,200 to 4,500 appts/month

Here’s how we grew a 10 provider ophthalmology group from 2,200 appts / month to 4,500 appts / month in 1 quarter

How to Grow Your Medical Pr… by Nisos Health

At some point or another, you’ve asked yourself how to grow your medical practice. Below are some tips. This is a vast topic, so we go into the main topics in this article. There are several shorter articles written for each section as well.

Expanding your medical practice – a game of numbers

It’s not rocket science – just a game of numbers. Understand the numbers (your numbers) and you will be much more comfortable with the process.

Before you get started, get your numbers pat down, drive everything off that. Get the past 2-3 years’ data:

  1. Total appointments, cancelled, no shows, note conversion ratio
  2. Total confirmed, rescheduled, note conversion ratio
  3. New patients vs recalled patients, note % mix.
  4. Appt sources – referrals, paid ads, search, print/media, note % mix.
  5. Provider utilization
  6. Total billed visits
  7. Appointments to billed conversions

Bring in more patients to your practice – paid ads

This one is easy to get started. You might not have the skills – hire medical marketing agencies to get this done.

Paid ads (google or facebook) give you results almost immediately.

Using paid ads to grow your practice gives you *some* room to breathe while you plan for the longer term strategy (coming up next)

Please do understand that this channel is EXPENSIVE. Have some patience – you don’t get results on day 1 or week 1. It takes a bit of time for the ad engines to “learn”.

At all points, you HAVE to know the cost of acquisition per patient. No worries – your agency or your paid ad partner (google/facebook) will easily share those numbers with you.

You must already know the profit per patient. If you don’t – please get your practice manager to give you those numbers.

Understand the paid ads levers well

With paid ads, you feed the engine (aka $s), and get results. So, this is an engine that needs to be understood well. You need to know the levers to pull.

Ask your team or marketing agency partner to give you numbers – “if you spend $x, you get y patient leads”. This way, you can stop / start as you wish. 

Appointments booked out further than 2 months? Pause the ads for a bit – patients booked 2+ months out will never show up anyway.

Facebook vs google

On facebook, people aren’t actively looking for a provider. Consider Facebook as passive patients.

On Google, people are actively looking for a provider. Consider Google as active patients.

Spend more on active patients (searchers), spend less on passive searches(patients)

Do keep in mind that on Google/Facebook – no remarketing to patients is allowed (due to privacy laws). Look at AdRoll and a few more other 3rd party remarketing companies to allow you to remarket (if you are going to remarket at MUCH cheaper costs)

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    How to increase patient volume in medical practice – Reactivate patients

    We consider this channel as a low hanging fruit as well.

    Why?

    Because we have never worked with a medical practice that is diligent about reactivating patients they have not seen in more than 6 months. 

    This strategy is very easy to execute.

    • Get a list of patients you have not seen in more than 3-6 months.
    • Start a call center outreach campaign to reactivate them. 
    • Limit outreach to 2 touches per month, per patient.
    • Add to list each month, churn the list each month
    • Rinse, repeat, monitor conversions

    Do NOT use your frontdesk to do this because they are always distracted with patient care. 

    Simple pimple 🙂 

    Bring in more patients to your practice – Reappoint no-shows

    Practices rely on software to get this done. Truth is, your EMR or any patient reminder software can send out SMS. But, is the job really done? Do you know how many are truly reappointed? 

    You need to employ software + humans for the final mile.

    • Get a list of no-show patients for past few months, not covered by “reactivation” campaign
    • Start a call center outreach campaign to re-appoint them
    • Limit outreach to 2 touches per month, per patient.
    • Add to list each month, churn
    • Rinse, repeat, monitor conversions
    • NOTE – older the data, lower the conversion. 
    • Best conversions less than 1 month old data

    DON’T LET DATA GET STALE !! It doesn’t work – trust us.

    How to increase patient volume in medical practice – Recall cancelled patients

    You don’t know why your patient cancelled. It could be that the time was not convenient for them. It could be because they thought the problem went away. Whatever be the case, should the patient really go without at least a sanity checkup from you? Most practice front desks never call on patients that had cancelled. 

    You should. Here’s what your team should do:

    • Get a list of cancelled appointments for past few months, not covered by “reactivation” and “no-show”campaign
    • Start a call center outreach campaign to re-appoint them
    • Limit outreach to 2 touches per month, per patient.
    • Add to list each month, churn
    • Rinse, repeat, monitor conversions
    • NOTE – older the data, lower the conversion. 
    • Best conversions less than 1 month old data

    DON’T LET DATA GET STALE !!

    Calling campaigns – use software

    As you noticed, we are asking you to run medical marketing campaigns. Do not try to run regimented campaigns using a spreadsheet and desk phones – too much headaches and too many things slip through the cracks. 

    It is nearly impossible to run campaigns well without a couple of things:

    1. A healthcare CRM that accommodates patient relationship and provider relationship management facets. There are a few good healthcare CRMs in the market including EzHealthCRM.
    2. A cloud based healthcare patient contact center tool that includes voice, chat, messaging channels. Again, there are a few HIPAA compliant patient contact center tools including EzPatientEngage.
    3. A proper, dedicated and laser focused call center team. There are TONS of medical call center teams that will help you with outbound calling (including our own medical call center services team)

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      How to promote your clinic? Understand your referrals patterns

      By now, you probably get a steady stream of referrals from neighboring physicians. Getting more referrals for your doctors needs you to understand your referral patterns first.

      Get a list / report from your referral coordinators and note the following:

      • Referrals received – year to date.
      • Referral outcomes – year to date
      • Top referrers by volume (whales) 
      • Top referrers by frequency (long tail) 
      • Referral coordinators give up after 1-2 attempts of trying to reach a patient.
      • Note referral sources % mix – Referrals come in from fax, email, phone calls from provider offices, 3rd party referral websites, pts walk-in, pts call-in.
      • Note how late visit notes are sent out

      Low hanging fruit – Plug the referral leaks

      Keeping your referral partners happy is key to getting more referrals. Healthcare referrals are a gift that keeps on giving. Here’s what you need to do:

      • Consolidate reporting on referral sources into one healthcare CRM / spreadsheet
      • Call referred patients – 2 touches per week, total 5 times.
      • Communicate appointment outcomes to referring providers weekly (visit notes as well)
      • Run a tight campaign
      • Keep in mind that more than 50% of patients do NOT pick up their phones (since they do not recognize your number anyway). So, these 50% of patients that did not pick up the phone today, will have to be called again sometime this week. 
      • Understand that call backlogs add up each day / week as you keep getting referrals while your “referred patients that did not answer your call” list keeps growing.

      Target and market to physicians to secure referral services – Ramp up physician referral outreach

      This is a mid-term strategy. It takes a while for results to show up. But, you need to be consistent. Remember – “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. Here’s what you need to do on a regimented basis:

      • Create a list of targeted specialties, PCPs, practices to market to
      • Two touches per month.
      • Fax, call same day to follow up on “fax”
      • Use a physician referral CRM or well maintained spreadsheet
      • Check each new referred patient daily. Did they come from one of the referring partner accounts you targeted? Move the practice from target to customer stage.
      • Rinse, repeat 

      Make a doctor referral network – grow your practice

      This one is going to take you a while to execute. 

      Keep in mind that the entire industry (including payers) is moving towards narrow networks. You might as well start your own referral network.

      How do you do this?

      1. Take a look at the referrals you are currently receiving
      2. How about the specialists and PCPs that your specialty could play well with? Make a list.
      3. Take any serious disease and understand the care team that goes into taking care of such a disease.
      4. Use a healthcare CRM (e.g. EzHealthCRM) to create a “must have” account list to market to.
      5. Create a completely different marketing “one sheeter” for these practices.
      6. Two touches per month.
      7. Fax, call same day to follow up on “fax”
      8. Check each new referred patient daily. Did they come from one of the referring partner accounts you targeted? Move the practice from target to customer stage.
      9. Rinse, repeat

      Here’s an example idea for an ophthalmic practice. Take a look at the care team required for managing diabetes:

      Primary Care Provider (PCP), Endocrinologist, Ophthalmologist, Podiatrist (DPM), Pharmacist (PharmD), Dentist (DMD or DDS), Registered Nurse/Nurse Navigator (RN), Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RD/RDN), Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES), Psychiatrist (MD or DO), psychologist (PhD) or clinical social worker (LCSW or LISW), Fitness Professionals… 

      See how that works? 🙂

      Patient reviews – grow your practice with patient reviews

      This strategy takes a bit longer to show results (same as the physician referrals outreach method). Stick to it, do it daily – much like exercising daily and see wonder results 🙂

      • Start getting patient reviews using a patient reviews software
      • Create a report on all patients with landline numbers. Better yet, use a healthcare CRM.
      • Start a calling campaign to call those patients
      • Ask about “satisfaction” with your providers and practice. While you’re on the phone, capture the patient’s mobile stating that you will “text them the link”. Then, send review requests to their mobile.
      • IMPORTANT – Update your EMR with the patient’s mobile number, remove patient from report.

      Patient reviews – Capture patient video testimonials

      This strategy also takes a bit longer to start showing results. However, this is brilliant when it actually starts getting traction.

      • Designate a wall at each of your practice locations with a green background (or hang a green sheet at least)
      • Prepare a list of questions to ask your patients beforehand, hand them to the front desk.
      • Your providers should select extremely happy patients and pass on a note to your front desk. 
      • Front desk will request video testimonials while the patient is in the office. It takes a total of 15 mins per patient.
      • Even iphone / Android phone videos work. Don’t worry about professional video sessions.
      • Get the patient to sign a waiver form (that informs the patient that this video will be used on your social media outlets)
      • Take those videos, post on Facebook, Google (2 main places)

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        Grow your healthcare practice with community outreach

        This one is toughest but we feel that it’s an absolute MUST. You need to be a “go to” name in your community – for local businesses and for residents.

        This involves 2 main things:

        1. Postcard mailers
        2. Calling those prospects

        Here are the steps to take:

        • Buy people data (aka consumer lists) from data providers. 
        • Enter into your CRM or spreadsheet
        • Mail postcards to each consumer
        • Call from week after mailing
        • Max 1-2 touches per month
        • Rinse, repeat each month

        Keep in mind that you can very well target local religious venues, local businesses and … 

        Your payer marketing team!!

        Yes!

        Call up each one of your payers’ network reps. Ask them when they are having community “events”. Set up a booth along with them – help them out, get more patients.

        This one works wonders, but it does need you to dedicate at least 1 day out of your offices.

        Social media marketing and search engine marketing

        This one also takes a bit longer to start showing results. 

        However, do understand that even though this takes a long time to show results – The later you start, the later you get results.

        Eventually, social media and search engine marketing channels are a lot cheaper and a lot more reliable channels for continued growth

        Again, the later you start, the later you get results. You cannot “expedite” this.

        FURTHER READING 🙂