Good marketing is essential for the growth of any business and the healthcare/medical practice is no exception to this rule. Healthcare is a specific industry that needs a different approach in order to retain its current “customers” and attract new ones. A doctor who wants to grow their practice needs to see at least 30 new patients every month which is an ambitious goal to achieve. You need to build a practice that offers high-quality services at reasonable prices so that your patients are happy and ready to spread the word.
Maintaining your current patients’ list and attracting new patients is not an easy task and requires a lot of efforts, time, and quite often a financial investment. There are several established marketing techniques and referral programs that can help you in this undertaking but there are also several other ways that can help you grow your practice.
Some of the tips below are creative marketing ideas that you can also use, while others are established practices that you are most probably aware of but you need to focus a bit more on applying them. All of them are proven ways to help a business grow and aim at bringing added value for all the parties involved.
1. Maintain a good relationship with your existing clients
When you think about growing your practice, the main focus is on how to attract new patients. While this is important, it is also essential to follow-up on your existing patients and keep them happy with the service you provide.
One of the best ways of getting advertised is by word-of-mouth. It is probably the oldest marketing strategy for advertising and always has positive results, despite a bit slower than the other channels such as TV, radio, social media, and the like. A patient, who is happy with the service and treatment received at your practice, will share their positive experience with family, friends, and colleagues.
Nurturing your existing patients has positive effects for both your practice and your patients. On one hand, this is one of the most efficient while quite cheap ways of advertising and spreading the word about you through the referrals. On the other hand, your patients feel pampered and appreciate the attitude you are giving them.
2. Send reminders via mail or phone
A good way to show your patients that you care is to send them reminders of upcoming regular checks or other events. You can invite them and their friends to an event that you are organizing, for example. Or inform them that your practice is offering certain discounts on given exams, checks or lab test.
Such kind of reminders shows that you are willing to provide added value for your patients. Make sure to choose the right channel – e-mail, text message or phone call for each group. The content of these texts is also very important, so you can consult the professional writers from Handmadewriting and WritingsGuru and get help creating outstanding content.
Be careful when adopting this marketing approach to not turn it into spam. Thus, the technique will lose a lot of its positive effects. Keep your communication with your patients to the point and always be positive and friendly in the messages you send.
3. Know your target audience
In order to attract more patients, you need to know the specific demographics of the region where your practice is located. Looking at the records of your existing patients will help you determine your target audience. Details such as average age, gender, location, and occupation will influence your specific marketing strategies and channels. Do you use a CRM to track your patients and provider network?
In addition to that, it is also good to research the region and the tendencies around your practice. If there are more elderly people around, it might be a smart move to invest into opening a geriatric panel. If the neighborhood is predominantly populated by young families with children, you can employ a few more pediatricians.
Analyzing this sort of data will help you get to know your target audience and organize the best marketing campaign that will provide results.
4. Develop a marketing strategy
Once you know your target audience, you will be able to create a marketing strategy that works for attracting the potential patients. One of the important factors to take into account is their age. Each generation uses different sources of information, so you need to use the relevant tools according to the demographic specifications of your prospective patients. Currently, there are six living generations that are a possible target for growing your practice:
- GI Generation – born between 1901 and 1926
- Silent Generation – born between 1927 and 1945
- Baby Boomers – born between 1946 and 1964
- Generation X – born between 1965 and 1980
- Generation Y/Millennials – born between 1981 and 2000
- Generation Z – born after 2001
A diversified marketing approach will be necessary, in case your practice is in an area that has a diverse population. Loyalty is the keyword for the older generations, while innovations and possibility for flexible solutions, such as downloading lab results from the net without physically visiting the practice, are the assets to attract the younger patients.
You can also create a media kit that contains all the information about your practice with useful links and contact information. This is a pre-packed set of information that can be distributed to members of different media. You can even use this kit as a welcome pack to your new patients that they can further distribute to friends and relatives and thus help your practice grow.
5. Get listed on local directories
If you have just started your practice, it is important to let the people know that you are there for them. A few years ago, the Yellow Pages were the ultimate tool to find the contact details of any place or person you need. Now, the internet allows us more options. In addition to running a successful marketing campaign and setting your website, it is also a good idea to register your practice on local directories.
Thus, your business details will be visible to people from all over the world. Prospective patients will be able to locate your practice and get the contact details that they need. The best of all is, that you can use the service provided by the biggest search engines for free. Simply check Google Places, Yahoo Local and Bing Places and follow the steps to get your practice registered.
6. Use visuals to attract more interest
Visual stimulation grabs the attention of a person much quicker. Therefore, make sure to include visuals in all of the materials concerning your practice. You can boost statistics showing the number of doctors or successful treatments, etc. and if you do it in the proper way it will have a much larger effect. Rather than simply listing details, you can create infographics that will be more appealing to the potential readers.
A great visual element shall be present in all channels that you employ for presenting and advertising your practice: printed materials, website, social media accounts. Make sure to use consistent images of high-quality that will help you present your vision and mission properly.
Including a photo of each member of your staff with a short bio is a great way to present your team to potential patients. Quite often, the appearance is the first thing that attracts us to a certain person and this can greatly influence the decision to trust someone.
7. Create or improve your website
A website is the digital business card of your practice. If you do not have one, it is high time to invest some resources into creating it. In case your website is a bit old and not regularly updated, make sure to change that.
Your website can be a great referral source. You can publish reviews and testimonials from patients and from staff members. You can organize a blog with useful information for your patients. Great content always matters and this is another way to provide added value for your patients. In addition to that, regular articles will also help you rank better on search engines, which will make your practice more visible for those who search such services. This can have a direct positive impact on the potential growth of your practice.
In case your practice has a lot of patients speaking Spanish, for example, or you are located in an area with lots of Chinese speakers, it is a good idea to have your website translated into that language as well.
Another important factor to keep into account is to have your site user-friendly. It shall be created with the patient in mind and help them locate what they need as quickly as possible. Your site should be mobile-responsive and easy to use regardless of the mobile device. Giving the patient the possibility to book an appointment or download their lab results directly from the site is a great plus that will be much appreciated by current patients and will attract potential ones.
Use social media
Social media is a great advertising tool with a lot of potentials. If you are active on your social media accounts, you will give your patients the option to like or share your content. Thus, it will be seen by their social circle and it will create more traffic to your site and potential leads that can become patients.
Share information that is relevant and monitor your online presence. Positive feedback is great but there might be negative reviews as well. Try to make the best of them. Analyze such reviews to find the reason for the complaint and try to resolve it. Make sure to respond to both positive and negative reviews to show that you care and if there was a significant issue brought up by many patients follow up by providing information on the steps you took to resolve the issue.
Make use of the latest technologies
Whether you like it or not modern technology governs each and every aspect of our lives and healthcare should not be an exception. Big data and artificial intelligence are integrated into healthcare marketing so that it brings more tangible results both for the practice and the patients.
AI can be used in so many ways to help a practice gain competitive advantages – from AI-assisted operations to analyzing patients’ data in order to shape your next marketing strategy.
Make sure to point out to your prospective patients that innovation is part of your practice and that new technologies are implemented in every step so that you can provide consistent and high-quality treatment. Technology sells in every business, and healthcare is a business that needs to take advantage of the formulas that work in other industries.
8. Focus on the quality of the service
The high quality of the medical care that you provide to your patients is the main reason why they stay in your practice. The personal attitude patients receive is what makes them recommend the entire practice or a particular doctor. These days, patient experience and patient access are important.
Focusing on the quality of the service you provide is one of the ways to attract more patients. Keep in mind that there are some additional services related to the actual medical care that is of great importance. One such example is the medical interpreter working for your practice. According to title IV of the Civil Rights Act, medical interpretation for people with limited or no knowledge of English is mandatory. So, employing a qualified medical interpreter who has a friendly approach with the patients and gains their trust is yet another bonus point for your practice. This is an important and valuable asset that can help you grow the number of your patients.
Another important factor is the overall look and feel of your practice. Make sure that you are running a clean and welcoming place that will attract the patients once they enter. All of your staff – from the cleaning lady and the receptionist to the most renown specialist should be friendly and helpful and leave a good impression.
People tend to share their positive experience with a few friends but will spread the news about unsatisfactory treatment to twice as many people. According to an AAAHC survey, satisfied patients will share their positive experience with five others, on average, and dissatisfied patients complain to nine (or more) other people. This is indicative of the importance of your relations with patients and the quality of service your practice provides.
9. Train your team
In order to retain your patients and attract new, your practice needs a team of friendly professionals who are dedicated to delivering high-quality services. To achieve that, you need to properly train the people working for you. Make sure that your team is aware of how to treat patients respectfully and that they have the knowledge to answer their questions.
A receptionist that can provide details about the equipment used during a certain procedure, for example, will leave the patient with a good impression and they are more likely to recommend your practice. We have already discussed the benefits of referral and positive word-of-mouth advertising.
10. Expand your services
If you want to grow your practice and attract more patients, you should consider expanding the services you offer. Based on demographics research, you can start offering procedures that are sought after by the type of patients you serve.
If you have more elderly patients, you can connect with other facilities offering help or various activities suitable for their age, and recommend them. Thus, you show that you care. You can also add a geriatric unit to your clinic in case the majority of the population in the region you serve is representing the older generations or simply employ more specialist in the area.
The more services you offer, the greater the interest of potential patients will be to your practice. Make sure, that you also have the proper equipment and staff that meet your high standards and the expectations of your current and future patients.
As a conclusion, it is necessary to remember that you need to regularly review your marketing strategy in order to take on board new and emerging ideas that can help you grow. You can establish your own marketing team or work with an external marketing agency that is specialized in the field of healthcare. Either option is viable, as long as you follow a consistent representation of your practice image and values that will help you establish your clinic as one of the successful players on the market and eventually grow your patients’ list.