What’s The Secret To Growing and Thriving Now?
COVID-19 has immensely impacted the globe over the past few months, and tension is high as there are few to no circumstances to guide decisions moving forward. Many people are questioning the months to come, and are wondering how the pandemic will affect their healthcare practice and how they should best prepare. However, some practices have already figured out how to grow and ultimately thrive during the crisis. Here are some actions we recommend our healthcare clients take to do just that during this uncertain time.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Ensure your healthcare practice is communicating with patients. With the multitude of mixed messages being put out there by the government, doctors, scientists, and other professionals, it’s hard for people to know what to listen to. Am I going to be able to get my prescriptions filled? What do I do if I have a medical emergency? Is it safe to even go outside? Over communicating is the best type of communicating at a time like this. Why? Offering knowledge and clear communication to patients and prospective patients can help ease their minds and relieve some of the fear that has been induced while providing answers to their deepest concerns.
Secrets for effective COVID-19 communication:
- Let your patients know how your healthcare practice is handling this crisis and communicate the steps you and your staff are taking to ensure the safety and welfare of your patients, staff and the rest of the population. Consider questions you are receiving from patients or questions you have received from staff, and be proactive to address concerns ahead of time.
- Make a plan for appointment rescheduling. Even though we are unsure of when things will return to normal, having a proactive plan for rescheduling existing patient appointments will ensure your practice is ready to return to business as usual once this is over. Patients will appreciate the effort as well.
- Communicate the status of your practice across platforms:
On Your Website: Add a message or pop-up on your website’s home page that addresses how you are currently assisting patients. There are many resources available to help you implement this on your website. When creating your message, ensure it’s clear, to the point, and is focusing on how your practice is operating.
Currently, most of our healthcare clients fall into the following categories:
- Continuing to see patients on a normal or limited basis
- Only practicing during emergencies
- The practice is closed for a certain amount of time
- Email Your Patients: Email your patients using the email address associated with their contact information (if they have opted-in) to update them on practice changes.
- Share on Social Media: The time people currently spend on social media has increased significantly since the pandemic. Keeping your patients and prospective patients updated via your practice’s social media pages is one of the best ways to keep them updated.
YOUR PATIENTS ARE SPENDING THEIR TIME ONLINE
As more individuals begin to work from home and practice social distancing, more and more people are spending even more of their time on digital and social media platforms than they did before COVID-19. Social Media Usage Is Growing At An Astronomical Rate:
- Over the last few weeks, social media engagement has grown by over 76%.
- Social media usage has doubled since March 1st.
Ensuring your practice has a social media presence is particularly crucial in a time like this. Considering that social media is the main news source for more than 50% of US adults, posting and engaging consistently is key to reaching new and existing patients.
Patients and Prospects Are Still Searching For Your Practice
Although we are possibly still in the early stages of COVID-19, prospects are continuing to search for your practice. To get a better grasp of how the pandemic is impacting our healthcare clients, our team conducted an analysis performance from a Google search perspective. We compared two-week time frames – (3/10 – 3/16) compared to (3/3 – 3/9) – to analyze demand, engagement, and conversion data. What we found:
- The demand for searches, or search impressions, was up by over 4% while engagement, also known as clicks, was down by nearly 5%.
- Form submissions, or conversions, had increased by more than 8% while phone calls had decreased by over 15% – with the overall outreach to healthcare practices experiencing a decline of more than 13%.
- We listened to 60 call recordings of patients and found that 76% of patients called to either confirm or schedule appointments, and only 24% called to cancel or reschedule.
We expect to see these statistics change rapidly over the coming weeks and months. Our team is committed to conducting this research on a regular basis to ensure that we have a clear understanding of where the healthcare market is and it responds to the pandemic.
POSITIONING YOUR PRACTICE TO THRIVE POST-PANDEMIC
The state we are living in is most certainly unparalleled, however, we can’t forget that we have dealt with unforgettable challenges in past decades. It’s notable that healthcare practices that rebounded quicker and came back stronger than ever were the ones who continued to drive their marketing efforts during tough times. When times are tough, this is when practices can gain a competitive advantage and excel past the competition.
Secrets to set your practice up for success when this is over
Ensure your practice is setting a solid digital foundation and focusing on digital strategy to fuel growth through the following:
- Update Your Website: With everything closing, a practice’s website is basically serving as the front door since it’s typically the first form of interaction a prospective patient will have with your practice. There is no better time than now to confirm that all of your website content is updated and relevant. Go through your site and review content and images to ensure they communicate your practice’s knowledge and expertise.
- Create Content for Your Practice: With existing and prospective patients needing information more than ever, now is the time for your practice to create whitepapers, blogs and even reports to showcase your expertise. Positioning yourself as a leader in the industry via content creation will not only drive prospective patients to you but will also help you rank positively from an organic search engine perspective. Quality content leads to improved Google rankings, which leads to more website traffic, which leads to more leads and ultimately, patients.
- Be Active On Social Media: With social media usage and engagement increasing over the last few weeks, it’s crucial for your practice to be present and active across all of your platforms. Think of this as an opportunity to provide industry experience and position your practice as a leader to stand out against the competition. Setting the voice and tone of your practice on social media is important to consider, so here are some insights to get you started:1. Communicate on the status of your practice and keep existing and prospective patients updated on any changes. 2. If your practice uses social media regularly and decides to schedule posts weeks or months in advance, make sure the scheduler reviews these posts to consider relevancy. 3. Emphasize the ways your practice is accommodating patients during the pandemic. Are you suggesting patients wait in their car until their appointment? Is your practice offering curbside exams or consultations? Be sure to communicate the ways your practice is adapting early on and reiterate this often across social media platforms. 4. Provide tips on how people can keep the germs to a minimum when going out for necessities or how to keep your mind and body healthy while working from home. 5. Repeat your key messages every few days to ensure you are still getting your message through to those who have not yet seen your social posts. Remember, social media posts can be fun and creative, so try to bring some light into your follower’s lives. They will appreciate it!
TURN LEADS INTO PATIENTS
It can be difficult to obtain new patients. With the healthcare market being extremely competitive, there are a lot of practice options for prospective patients regardless of the area of medicine. For practices to grow, it’s crucial to invest in marketing to drive patient acquisition and profits. Generating leads for your practice is important, however, it’s only a part of the acquisition strategy. Having an effective lead management process for your practice can quickly turn leads into patients and plays a huge role in the overall success of your practice. Take a look at these best practices to capitalize on your leads:
The best way to deal with phone calls
- Answering inbound calls instead of sending them to voicemail is always the answer if at all possible. Prospective patients that speak to a member of your staff right away are more likely to become actual patients.
- Keep hold times under 30 seconds. Patients do not like to be put on hold – studies show that if left on hold for more than a minute, 60% of people will hang up.
- Ensure that calls are being directed to trained staff who are equipped to answer their questions and schedule appointments. It may be necessary to conduct training sessions or provide call scripts to prepare staff members.
- Convert inquiries into patients by:
- Following up as soon as possible – It’s crucial for you to follow up fast so that your prospective patient doesn’t turn to a competitor for medical care.
- Implementing a lead nurture program – Implementing a lead nurturing program that will reach out to prospective patients between 8-10 times via phone, email, and text will increase patient acquisition. Reaching out to prospects only 1-2 times is not even close to being enough. Taking the time to set up a lead nurturing program will help your practice drive consultations, appointments, procedures, revenue.
- Make sure you are tracking everything – There are various options to help you track and organize your leads. Whether it’s through Google Sheets, Excel, or a lead management platform, make sure your practice is tracking leads in one way or another.
Evaluate the way your practice is currently taking in leads and explore your options to ensure you are set up for success in the future.
ADAPT, ADAPT, ADAPT
Adjusting your practice to the new way of the world, even if temporarily, will put you one step ahead. We are not suggesting you completely change your practice’s business model – we are suggesting that you remain open to opportunities to optimize how it runs.
Telehealth and telemedicine tools are essential for practicing medicine during the pandemic. There are multiple solutions for your practice to explore, ranging from free to more robust options. Below are some of the solutions our healthcare clients are utilizing:
- HIPAA-Compliant Options
- Video and Web Conferencing Platforms
- Zoom for Healthcare
- Other options to consider include Google Hangouts video, Apple FaceTime, Skype as more temporary solutions
Note: Long-term solutions must be HIPAA-Compliant.
Drive Leads Through Creative Thinking
Think outside the box to increase revenue for your practice. Consider offering prepaid gift cards – these are a great way to increase sales for non-surgical procedures. Additionally, offering promotions or creating a VIP member club to encourage patients to act now is another way to drive revenue during this tough time.
Utilize Your Team for Ideas
Only you and your team know your practice the best. Engage your team and conduct brainstorming sessions to pick their brains on unique things you can do to increase patient acquisition and drive revenue. Encourage them to think creatively and have some fun with it!
At the end of the day, there is going to be a need for healthcare regardless of the type of practice. Make sure you position your practice to stand out above the competition and ensure you are set up for success once this pandemic is over. Do you want your practice to be ahead or behind once it does? We are always here to help, so feel free to reach out to us with any questions!