Marketing your Medical Practice in 2014: Tip #2
Tune-Up Your Recall System
When doctors ask us about the first thing they should do to market their practice, our response is always to look within their own four walls first. Granted, all practices need new patients to sustain themselves and grow, but if the goal is to increase production (and not just the patient base), then few marketing activities can beat the ROI of a well-designed recall system. If you’re like most offices, you’re probably sitting on tens of thousands of dollars of potential revenue from overdue follow-up appointments – or even more when you consider that most treatments are performed after a recent maintenance visit.
I have seen practices where many patients fell through the cracks due to scheduling problems and weak recall-systems. People lead busy lives and months can quickly pass between office visits. Call and attempt to schedule all patients that are due for treatment. Follow up with patients who came in for consultation for a service and offer end-of-year incentives to increase your bottom-line. Make sure to explain the health benefits involved as well as information about insurance benefits.
So, if a good recall system is on top of your marketing list, what are the top ways to increase its effectiveness? Here are a few that have worked very well for our customers:
Preschedule your follow-up appointments. Help patients plan ahead, and be sure to remind patients in advance via phone, email or SMS, with appointment confirmations.
Develop a set communication schedule. Proactively reach out to patients who haven’t scheduled.
Vary the communication method. It always helps to get in front of patients using more than one message type. If you have been mostly sending direct mail postcards, consider adding other mediums, like email and SMS into your communication mix. Being able to speak with your patients on their own level can go a long way in getting the response you’re looking for.
Automate the above as much as you can. One of the biggest hindrances to running a successful recall program is the time commitment that it requires from everyone at the office. Planning and implementing a follow-up communication schedule is one thing. Keeping up with all the emails, postcards and text messages every day is quite another. Gladly, technology is quickly catching up with this problem. Marketing automation software, like the RevenueWell Suite, is capable of taking all your inputs, like the timing of your messages, the medium you want to use, and the actual message you want to send and the specific communication type based on your patients’ recall date. By automating the low-level activities like printing postcards or typing up emails, you’ll be able to free up more of your time to proactively explain the value of maintenance visits to your patients, or to personally follow-up with others who fall through the cracks of your recall program.
Reactivate patients to bolster revenue
Every business owner understands the tremendous cost involved in acquiring a customer. So when that customer (or, patient in your case) seems to disappear from the face of the earth without letting you know why, you need to find out what happened. Give them a call, or send them a series of follow-up and informational emails. These efforts do pay off, and are worth your time. Help your patients understand that you care, and that you would like to see them again. Sometimes just a friendly reminder and phone call will be all it takes to get a patient in your office again, and back on track with their health.
Stay tuned for tip #3 in early February.
About Wendy Hamel
Her areas of expertise include patient file development, field marketing, online marketing, public relations, social media strategy, web design, SEO and collateral design.