While healthcare organizations need to continue building relationships with their existing patients, practices who want to grow must work to attract new patients at the same time.
And, in today’s technology-enabled world, bringing new patients in the door doesn’t require a huge marketing budget or even a dedicated team. Rather, there are a few surprisingly simple ways you can proactively attract new patients who need your skills and services.
Here are four ways you can attract new patients as you grow your healthcare practice.
1. Establish an Online Presence
You probably already know how important it is that consumers can find you online. If you don’t have a website, you might as well not exist because no one who is searching for you will be able to find you.
While aesthetically pleasing and innovatively-designed websites are memorable, you don’t need anything fancy starting out. What you do need is a mobile-responsive website that is easy to navigate and informative. Patients need to be able to find basic information about your practice, including your contact information, hours, location, and services. And, Google’s organic search results will position you higher if you are mobile-friendly, as most prospective patients will be using a smartphone to seek out health-related information.
2. Offer Instant Access via Online Scheduling
In addition to having a patient-facing website, online scheduling is an effective way to attract new patients to your practice. And in reality, most consumers have come to expect the opportunity to book, cancel, or reschedule appointments online. Online scheduling makes it easier and faster for new patients to find you and make appointments.
Online scheduling enables the scheduling process to be frictionless, converting patient demand online into new patient volume—and revenue. Self-service scheduling can help your practice fill same-day appointments and book more patients, 24 hours a day, seven days a week since new patients don’t have to wait for your desks to be staffed to schedule.
3. Leverage Reviews to Boost Online Reputation
Before even walking in your door, potential patients have the opportunity to see what other patients have to say about you online, both good and bad. Word-of-mouth travels even faster nowadays thanks to social media and well-known review sites like Yelp and Google, allowing consumers to sift through comments and feedback from existing patients.
In fact, 82% of patients surveyed by Software Advice use online provider reviews to weigh treatment and care options before making a decision. This is especially true for patients looking for a new doctor, as 72% of patients seeking a new care provider use online reviews to inform their selection.
For that reason, it’s important your healthcare practice has a strategy for not only gaining new, positive reviews on a regular basis but also responding to dissatisfied patients who post about their experience online.
To easily gain positive reviews without adding extra workflows to your operations, practices can leverage software to automatically collect feedback from their patients immediately following appointments. Patients may not be aware that they can leave a review, or they may not know where to leave one. Rather than waiting for them to take the initiative and post about their experience online, proactively asking for their feedback allows you to automatically route satisfied patients to review sites where they can share about their experience online.
At the same time, automated surveys allow you to collect feedback from dissatisfied patients in real-time before they post online. Immediate feedback ensures your team can address the patient’s negative experience and provide a resolution before a potential conflict escalates and appears online. The timely service recovery may even translate to a positive review once the situation is reconciled.
If the dissatisfied patient still posts a negative review, it’s a great opportunity for your practice to show you care by thoughtfully recognizing their concern in your response to their review. Publicly addressing their concern via a reply shows that you value them and are committed to improving the care your practice provides. This transparency demonstrates to anyone reading your reviews that you are trustworthy and credible—two qualities that will attract new patients.
4. Embrace Technology
Finally, upgrading to modern technology, such as cost-effective automation software, can make all the difference in your efforts to attract new patients. Leveraging technology doesn’t have to be expensive or intimidating. It just has to meet the basic needs of your business and the preferences of your prospective patients.
Things like convenience, flexibility, and comfort are important to patients, and technology can help you offer simple ways to make their care easier and more enjoyable.
Automated appointment reminders, for example, can help your office easily communicate with patients via text, voice, or email in advance of upcoming visits. And, patients can designate which communication channel works best for them. This provides multiple options for patients to confirm or reschedule appointments at their fingertips, in case their schedule changes. Two-way SMS messaging, in particular, offers patients the flexibility and freedom to communicate with their healthcare providers whenever, wherever, and however it is convenient for them.
In addition, healthcare practices can find creative solutions to meet other patient needs, such as reliable transportation. Some health systems offer a door-to-door shuttle service or volunteer-driver programs. However, a more cost-effective and convenient option may be to partner with ridesharing companies like Uber or Lyft, using two-way text to find out if eligible patients need a ride. When they respond ‘yes’, these solutions automatically generate a ride offer via text, letting the patient know when their ride will arrive so they can be on time for their healthcare appointment. After the appointment, returning home can be just as easy with automated communications systematically scheduling patients a ride based on when is convenient for them. In either direction, patients can receive real-time ride updates via their smartphone.
On-demand transportation can be a great selling point for patients who are looking for a new care provider but need assistance arriving to their appointment. Proactively offering transportation options eliminates the need for new patients to worry about their ride so they can focus on making healthy choices that are within their control.
Has your healthcare organization tried any of these strategies to attract new patients? If so, we’d love to hear about it. Tell us about what is and isn’t working for you!