Thanks to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, there are nearly 17 million more insured individuals in America’s health insurance system than there were in September 2013. There’s arguably never been a better time in history for medical practices to boost their revenue by bringing in new patients. How is your practice capitalizing on the opportunity?
If you’re seeing slowed income growth (or a lot of empty slots in your day-to-day appointment schedules) then it’s not only smart for you to grow your patient base, it’s imperative. Here are four top tips on broadening your exposure to new audiences and expanding your patient network in the process.
Make Targeted Changes
When you’re trying to attract new patients, it can be tempting to ‘go big’ - to move to a larger location, bring in new doctors with different medical specialties, and contract with as many new payers as possible. But growing your practice doesn’t have to mean overhauling it. Small, targeted tweaks can boost your revenue more than you may expect.
Observe the dynamics of your practice and find smart ways to fill your gaps. Are your docs getting bogged down with routine follow-up visits and physicals? Bring aboard a non-physician provider to handle less-than-critical encounters. Seeing a lot of pregnant women and mothers of small children at your primary care practice? Incorporate pediatric care to your practice’s offerings, or consider offering part-time childcare services.
Referrals are the easiest way to grow your patient base, but they’re all about building relationships and earning fellow providers’ trust. Practices that are easy to work with are the most likely to get referrals from their fellow practitioners, so build a reputation as the most copacetic medical office in town.
Review and simplify your referral paperwork and processes. See referred patients quickly, rather than making them wait weeks for the first visit. Send progress notes promptly to the doctors who refer patients to you, and keep the lines of communication open to make sure you stay on the top of your fellow physicians’ lists with efficient practice management.
Engage New Communities
When was the last time you, or a representative of your practice, participated in a community service project or fundraising event? Engagement with your local community is a valuable way to project a charitable, positive image of your practice to new audiences.
If you’re already actively engaged with a specific set of events and activities, branch out! Swap out one 5K for a similar running event for a different cause. Sponsor a fundraiser outside the healthcare scene, like a dinner-dance benefiting a local school. Accept an invitation to a networking conference or speaking engagement that you’d otherwise decline. Providing support to new communities will get you noticed by people you don’t know – who could ultimately become future patients.
Practice improvements, better referral processes, community engagement… all of the above tips are important, but ultimately it’s 2015 and the best way to boost your exposure is to capitalize on every opportunity available to you on the internet.
How good are your ratings on Yelp and Healthgrades? Ask happy patients to provide some positive reviews. Do you have a practice website? Get one, and make sure it’s professional and search engine optimized. Are you integrated with online booking services like ZocDoc? Sync up to help your practice reach younger patients who are all about convenience.
...and if you need help with your practice revenue...