Be proactive about building your medical practice with these five surprisingly simple tips to attract new patients.
Bringing new patients through the door of your medical practice is a perennial concern for most physicians. Building visibility and relationships is key, but physicians do not need a huge advertising budget to reach out to new patients.
Here are five surprisingly simple ways to be proactive about building your practice.
1. Think about branding.
Like any business, your practice needs a strong, clear brand. Brands build trust, comfort, and loyalty, which are three qualities every medical practice wants for its patients. You can discover your brand message by asking yourself a few questions: What makes you stand out from the competition? Who is your ideal patient? What are your service goals? Once you’ve established your brand identity, aim for consistency across the board: your stationery, your website, your appointment reminder cards, your signage, and even your personalized medical pad should be clearly branded with your name and logo.
2. Nurture your current patients.
If your existing patients are happy, they will tell their friends and family, and your practice will grow exponentially. Complacency is your enemy. Don’t take it for granted that patients are satisfied - ask them directly. Everyone loves to give their opinion, and you may uncover surprising information which could transform the patient experience in your practice. Sometimes small, easily overlooked details can make a huge difference.
3. Embrace social media.
Every doctor knows that word of mouth is the most powerful source of referrals, but what many physicians haven’t realized yet is how many of those conversations are happening online. Establishing a solid, appealing social media presence is an absolute must.
According to physician Michael Woo Ming, “It is important for physicians to use social media to gain new patients. Such sites as Facebook, where millions of people are communicating on a daily basis, are an oasis of word-of-mouth referrals. Physicians can tap into that if they are actively using Facebook, or other social media tools.”
You can share information about your practice, remind patients of seasonal appointment needs (kindergarten physicals, flu shots, etc.), share health-related articles and video, and present your practice as caring and approachable.
Communication is the most important part of your relationship with patients, and engaging with them on social media is a fantastic way to keep those lines open. Outside of the usual channels of Facebook and Twitter, be aware of physician review sites. They carry a lot of weight when people are looking for a new doctor. Encourage your current satisfied patients to post reviews and regularly check your ratings.
4. Educate people.
The appetite for reliable, relatable information about health issues is inexhaustible, and you can make the most of it. There are many ways to raise your profile by becoming an educational resource. You could answer reader’s health questions in your local paper, or agree to be a medical consultant on your local TV or radio station. You could write a blog about common medical complaints and worries. Patients value your expertise, so don’t be shy.
5. Become a caring presence in the community.
Giving back to the community is one of the best ways to reach out to potential patients. The need for qualified medical volunteers far outstrips the supply, and your presence is invaluable. Outreach can take many forms: offer to host talks, seminars, and question-and-answer sessions at local schools, active seniors clubs, community centers, and charity events. Host medical support groups for people struggling with new diagnoses or chronic conditions. Make yourself available at community sports events.
In addition to providing others with valuable information, it is also a great way of capturing the attention of your community. According to Medical Arts Press, "you can get free exposure for your practice by submitting press releases about newsworthy events such as the addition of a new provider, an award or certification received by a provider or staff member, or the fact that you’ve participated in a meaningful community service event."
Handing out informational packets in custom plastic bags with your logo (as mentioned earlier) will remind members of your community who you are and the services you provide. In turn, you’ll gain visibility as an involved, concerned member of the community, make connections, and build a reputation as someone who cares.
Marketing is just another way of building your relationships with your patients and your community. Investing time, creativity, and passion into your practice will pay off in numerous ways.. Whether you are well established or just starting out, continually inviting new patients into your office is a vital part of keeping your practice healthy and profitable.
Amanda Gareisis a freelance writer for Medical Arts Press, a provider of office supplies, filing supplies, postcards, furniture, and more for medical practices.