How to Recruit More Patients For Your Healthcare Practice
Healthcare practitioners around the world have a lot on their plate. The noble profession of providing care for patients is intensely rewarding but also filled with complexity. For many physicians, working directly with patients is what they love most. As for bringing in new patients to their practice… not so much.
Many physicians don’t even know where to start when it comes to recruiting patients to their clinics and hospitals. It’s not exactly something they teach in med school is it? Fear not, because we’ve got you covered with some helpful tips on how to market your practice and bring in some new patients.
The number one way to generate new business is through word of mouth. Create great experiences for your existing patients, and they’ll become your greatest promoters. Imagine having a single patient tell his or her friends and family how awesome your services are, and in turn, refer them to do business with you. The number of referrals grows exponentially like cells dividing rapidly in the body.
The solution seems simple. Provide exceptional service and naturally, your patients will evangelize you to others. If only it were that easy…
Mike Blumenthal points out that happy customers may not share reviews because:
- Some industries are not very reviewable.
- The business did not stand out.
- The business does not have a lot of reviews.
- There’s a weak social link between the business and the customer.
- Age, economic class, urbanicity, region, and other issues outside your control can vary.
- People are busy.
- They might leave a review, but whatever platform they shared one on, decided not to show it.
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why your happy patients may not be spreading the word. So what can you do to help them?
Create programs that reward action.
Here are two popular programs physicians are using in the healthcare market today:
These special deals have a cost upfront, but the long-term rewards pay for themselves ten-fold.
But what if you don’t have any existing patients to tap into, and are starting from scratch? Let’s dive into some options at your disposal.
Make Physical Connections
When people see relatively new clinics or hospitals pop up, they don’t think much of the people inside those buildings. Clinics and hospitals are often seen as these faceless entities that have little differentiation from each other. This is why putting the face of your team in the public eye is vitally important to establishing a meaningful connection that resonates on an emotional level. There’s a whole other category in the world of marketing called branding. But that’s for another article.
So, the first step to acquiring new patients is to put yourself out in the field and meet them in person! Where exactly do you go? Well, it depends.
What kind of patients do you want to work with? The good news is that everyone needs healthcare, but if you specialize in children as a pediatrician, the places you go will be much different than a doctor working mostly with the elderly. Here are a few common areas to meet people and solicit your practice:
- Health Fairs
- Medical Conferences
- Community Meetings
- Charity Auctions
Going to events doesn’t always have to be about selling your healthcare services directly. They are just as much about building partnerships with other related businesses, spreading thought leadership as the expert in your field, and establishing your brand identity amidst the competition. Consider participating in community activities like:
- 5K Runs/Walks
- Education Events
- Safety Fairs
- Wellness Conferences
Your ability to network with others is the key to building a healthy growth engine for new patient flow. It can be scary taking that first step into the public domain filled with unknowns. There is also another way to connect with new people that isn’t in person, which is the next step.
Establish Your Digital Presence
The internet has given rise to a new way to connect with people throughout the world. It has transformed the way we do business, and this is especially true for patients wanting to learn more about your healthcare practice. Put yourself in your prospective patients’ shoes for a moment. Most likely, they would do a Google Search with “find doctors near me”. What are the chances your name appears in the search results? Are you the first one? What about the second one?
On average, 95% of patients only check the first page of search results. Only 5% will make it to the second page, and by it just gets smaller and smaller.
One of the biggest disservices you will do to yourself is not having a digital presence to promote your practice. So, establishing a website is important! The subject of website development (including the what and where) is worth a post on its own, so I recommend reading up on it here.
In addition to your website, you’ll want to be using a well-known tactic for patient recruitment called social media. Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram. All of these websites are places where your patients visit daily and it’s a perfect opportunity for you to interact with them. Like your website, there’s a lot of information to soak on social, so I also recommend reading more in here.
For both social media and your website, you will want a way to actively engage with visitors. One of the common traps physicians fall into is when they establish their digital presence for the first time, they think it happens once, and expect people to dig through pages and pages of information until they find what they need. I empathize with the doctor’s time. After all, they can’t be trying to acquire new patients when they already have patients they need to see. In other words, you can’t be in two places at once.
If people want access to filtered, relevant information that you share through your digital presence, how can you provide that personalized service without your attention?
Chatbots are virtual agents that work on your behalf to help prospective and existing patients find the information they need. Chatbots live on your website and social media accounts as an active participant in real-time conversations using text and voice-based applications. The emerging technology of chatbots is an incredibly intuitive tool to help your patient recruitment efforts and they can be as smart and specific as you want them to be. To learn more about chatbots, I highly recommend reading this article.
There’s one more thing you can do to recruit more patients into your healthcare practice.
Build Your Professional Network
If you’ve ever been in the job market, you know that many positions are hired through a ‘friend of a friend’. In other words, many people get their jobs because others that know them have vouched for their credibility.
By connecting with other organizations, you can expand your circle of influence and the opportunities your hospital or clinic can bring.
You can try forming partnerships with other third-party organizations. A popular example might be with Physician Practice Management Companies, well-known for filling gaps for traditional physician offices like the ability to make capital investments, population-health and risk management, patient acquisition, and administrative efficiency.
However, when engaging with PPMs or any partnership opportunities, you should ask the following questions:
- What have you done for me?
- Why should I care about business performance?
- How do we collaborate effectively week in and week out?
- How is the toolkit optimized for my local market?
One other partnership worth pursuing is third-party review sites patients visit to compare similar healthcare options. It’s important for you to list your practice on these sites because the reviews contribute to a good online reputation and can help you improve your patient experience. You can see some of the top review sites for healthcare providers to get listed under by reading this article.
Tying It All Together
Attracting new patients to the clinic or hospital is an important piece to the success of your business. You can achieve that by providing exceptional service along with programs where your existing patients can spread the good word.
You can also actively do outreach through both physical and digital means through events, your website, and social media. Finally, you can connect with related organizations by contributing to the company’s time in education, recreation, and helpful social good for all.
And sometimes healthcare practitioners can be short-staffed, so never shy away from asking for additional help from chatbots. The virtual agents can save you a ton of time, money, and headaches in the patient recruitment process.