It’s really a shame your medical practice can’t offer 2-for-1 happy hour promotions on ear exams.
While attracting new customers to a bar or restaurant business can be relatively straightforward, attracting new patients to your medical practice is a little more challenging. Take social media for example, what are you going to do, run a fun Instagram contest for people to post pictures from their favorite colonoscopy? Though that hashtag would be pretty funny, it’s still not very professional.
Marketing to new patients is a special situation for doctors, as the ethics and sensitivity in healthcare make self-promotion a sticky situation.
So how do you recruit new people into your practice? Here are ten tips to recruit new patients to your medical practice.
Scout Your Competition and Find Your Niche
You know better than anyone that medical care isn’t like buying gym socks: It’s not a commodity, but a highly specialized, personalized experience. So the first step in finding new patients is offering something nobody else does. This could be marketing yourself to a group that doesn’t seem to get much attention, mastering a procedure others in your area don’t offer, or even something simple like giving your marketing efforts a unique voice.
Become a Local Media “Expert”
Ok, so you don’t know Oprah. And while it would be helpful to have a recurring segment on her show, that’s just not likely unless your name is Dr. Oz. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to local media and suggest timely stories about health care for which you can offer “expert” advice. Summer coming around? Offer to talk about summertime skin care tips. Holidays around the corner? Talk about holiday diet tips, or the health benefits of fruitcake. Whatever. Just position yourself as an expert and the patients will follow from the increased exposure.
Have an Open House
Everybody loves people who give them something for free. So like Jimmy John’s does with sandwich samples, you can with simple stuff like blood pressure tests, walker inspections, vaccinations and other services that aren’t particularly cost-intensive. It’ll not only endear you to the community, but it’ll get your name and face in front of dozens of potential new patients as well.
Network, Network, Network
Making small talk with people you barely know is kind of like going to the gym: Painful for some, boring for many, but immediately beneficial if you’re disciplined enough to do it. So maybe that insurance broker you chatted up at a chamber of commerce event wasn’t exactly like talking to Jimmy Fallon. But when his new employee asks if he can recommend any good doctors, he’ll remember you.
Streamline Your Website
The temptation to put in a bunch of fancy plug-ins, animations and graphics on your website that look straight out of a Frank Miller movie might be strong. But they also take forever to load, and crash more often than Mr. Magoo. And since many new patients are older, and may not have the warp speed connections of their younger counterparts, you want to make your website pretty simple. Make sure your medical practice’s website looks professional, but have all your information easy to access, fast to load, and aimed more to inform than entertain.
Simplify Your Referral Process
Somewhere on this planet there must be someone who likes paperwork. Otherwise the world wouldn’t be so full of it. But assuming your prospective patients are like most people, and would rather spend an afternoon at a garbage dump than doing paperwork, you need to keep your referral process as simple as possible. If your medical practice goes digital, then you can provide a convenient, paperless referral process to your savvier patients. Nothing will turn away a potential referral faster than logistical difficulties, and after you’ve lost that person the chances of them ever coming back are minimal.
Volunteer Your Medical Services
Volunteering your medical services is the obvious call here, whether it’s doing pro-bono work, pulling a few shifts at a local free clinic, or going into schools to conduct scoliosis screenings. But that still limits your exposure to those in need of care. Volunteering can be an extension of networking, allowing you to meet people in other fields who need medical care, or know people who do. It also makes you feel better about yourself, and gives you and your medical practice a prominent place in the community.
Survey Your Existing Clients
Word of mouth is about more than just providing great medical care. It’s about making your patients feel valued beyond the revenue they bring in. So surveying existing patients will serve two purposes: First, it allows you to find areas which may need improvement so that you can address everything potential new patients might need. Secondly, it shows you care what your patients think.
Utilize Local Employers
As more businesses are required to provide health insurance, the workplace has become prime recruiting ground for new patients. Develop your relationships with local employers, and become a resource for them. Speak with the HR department about coming in to do screening, vaccinations, or even brief educational seminars. Especially in areas where large employers recruit people to a new city, being the first doctor those new residents see is a great way to sign them on as recurring patients.
Monitor Online Reviews
Restaurants monitor their Yelp! pages religiously to make sure people aren’t complaining about how well they cook asparagus. You know what’s slightly more important than asparagus? Your health. And if people are talking online about your inability to properly manage their health, that’s a lot bigger problem than undercooking a vegetable. So monitor sties like RateMDs and Healthgrades to address concerns people have about your practice. If you’d like some further tips on managing online reviews, take a look at the tips we gave here.
If you’re looking to get really aggressive in your practice’s patient recruitment activity, then increase your marketing efforts while mixing in the tactics outlined above. We hope these tips will help you recruit new patients to your medical practice and grow your business.