5 Experts Provide Their Top Tips to Increase Patient Visits
- Elizabeth Woodcock, MBA, FACMPE, CPC, says focus on your schedule. All too often, practices create barriers in their appointment schedule, with slots reserved for certain purposes, or patients being cancelled and rescheduled willy-nilly. Your scheduler is your director of new business development; develop a schedule with slots for “short” and “long” appointments, easing the ability for him or her to appoint patients. If “pre-designated” slots are not filled with the intended patient with 72 hours to go, open the slot up to any patient. Remember, your time is your practice’s most precious asset. Accept same-day appointments; overbook the 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. slots to account for no-shows. Most importantly, don’t ever bump patients, or they will bump you.
- Laurie Morgan, MBA, Senior Partner at Capko & Morgan, suggests exploring patient-focused websites. The new wave of patient-focused websites that provide pricing information (and even the opportunity to pre-pay in some cases) represents an opportunity for practices to be seen by new prospective patients who are actively shopping for services. There are many models for these new websites: some are being launched as stand-alone start-ups, others are services offered by health plans, and, in some cases, even banks are getting in on the action—so it's important for practices to do a bit of research to find out which services are reaching patients in their local area. Aside from making sure your practice is listed in all of these places and making sure you're visible to any patient who is shopping, you'll want to verify that these sites are displaying updated information about your practice, including confirming they're quoting your fees correctly.
- You need some sort of marketing machine says Audrey McLaughlin, RN, founder of www.physicianspracticeexperts.com. It is difficult to recruit new patients without marketing today. It doesn't have to be big, or salesy, or scary. Simply putting your practice out there and sharing valuable information with potential patients is enough to generate new patients.
- According to Molly Maloof, MD, schedule the next appointment at the end of the current appointment. Dentists do this best, and physicians should be doing it too.
- John Lynn believes the biggest thing you can do to increase patient visits is to create WOW! experiences for your existing patients. By creating moments of WOW! in your office, your current patients are more likely to talk to and tell their friends about you and share their experience on social media (the new word of mouth). Be creative and focus on the patient. A nice office is fine, but something that is personal to the patient can create a much bigger WOW!
One last tip… Every practice should have a recall, or recare, program. Whether you do this manually or use a practice marketing platform to do it, it is one of the more important tools in increasing visits from existing patients. Many preventive care visits are now covered by insurance with no copay or deductible but patients forget to schedule annual exams, well child visits, and annual vaccines. I quick reminder by phone, email or text goes a long way to getting those patients in for those annual visits.