More than a million doctors are currently practicing in the U.S. That’s a lot of competition, especially for doctors who are running their own private medical practices.
Those doctors have to know how to start a business, market a business, handle employees, recruit new patients and take care of the ones they already see. We’ve put together a list of seven practical tips doctors can use to improve their business.
1. Hire Great People
Doctors face a huge challenge when they run their own private medical practices. Many of them haven’t been taught how to run a business. They successfully completed medical school and additional training in their field, but that didn’t necessarily include business strategy.
If that sounds uncomfortably familiar, you might consider working with a healthcare business consultant. These folks are trained to walk doctors through the business side of running a private medical practice.
It’s not inexpensive. Healthcare consultants earn an average of $35 an hour. But, a consultant can help you with things like accounting systems, legal issues, insurance, and government regulations.
Along with a consultant, an outstanding office manager can save you time, money and stress by handling the day-to-day business of your business.
2. Provide Effective Training for Employees
80% of businesses that offer coaching to employees reported a significant return on their investment. Training can run the gamut from the specific skills you need to be performed in your office to customer service and conflict resolution.
Your employees should have a deep understanding of every aspect of your practice because they’re the ones who will interact with your patients first. They need to know:
- The medical services you provide
- Specializations you offer
- How much each service costs
- Which insurance companies you work with
- Where patients can find more information about you, your background and your training
Your employees should also understand and be able to talk about the mission and values of your practice.
3. Offer a Mobile-friendly Website for Private Medical Practices
More than 72% of Americans search for healthcare providers online. If you’re not there, they won’t find you at all. At the very minimum, you should make sure your business is listed in as many online directories as possible.
The truly successful private practices offer their patients information, scheduling options and medical news on their websites. Your website should be responsive and work well on mobile devices.
Your website is also the place where patients can learn more about you and your practice in the “About” section. Be sure to include a photograph or two of you. Images create an emotional connection in a way that words don’t.
When you craft your online bio, include more than just your training and years of experience. Again, patients are looking for a connection with their doctor, so you might include a paragraph or two about why you became one. If you have hobbies, share them too.
4. Use an Online Scheduling Tool
By the end of 2019, 66 percent of health systems in the U.S. will offer digital self-scheduling, and 64 percent of patients will book appointments that way. An online scheduling tool can save your staff hours every week, considering that it takes an average of eight minutes to schedule one patient’s appointment by phone.
77 percent of patients think that the ability to schedule, change or cancel appointments online is important to them when choosing a new doctor. What’s interesting about that stat is it applies equally to baby boomers and millennials.
Most doctors who offer online scheduling will include an easy-to-find button on their website, like this one from Era Health.
5. Market Your Business Online
Social media is the key here, and doctors who have a robust presence on popular platforms have a better chance of reaching new patients. In fact, 80% of social media participants look for health information online.
Facebook is the most popular platform with more than 2.38 billion active users. Doctors can effectively market to those users with an active Facebook account and a dedicated employee to engage with current and potential patients.
A doctor’s Facebook page is the perfect place to make that emotional connection we were talking about earlier. This is the place where patients can find out more information about the doctor and her staff and read reviews from other patients.
Those online reviews are critical. 88 percent of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. That applies to doctors the same way it does to restaurants or retail stores.
You can encourage your patients to post an online review by sending an email after their visit to thank them and to ask for their review. If they give their permission, you can even share those reviews on your website.
6. Write a Blog
A blog can be as short as 250 words or as long as 2,000, and it’s a great way to connect with your patients by sharing your experience with them directly. You can write the blogs yourself or hire someone to write them for you.
Blogs are effective ways to establish yourself as an expert in your field by sharing information with people searching for it online. Your blogs can cover any topic you feel would be appropriate for the customers you’re trying to reach. You might post the vaccination schedule for new parents to review or the latest research into skin cancer.
7. Develop New Ways to Communicate with Patients
This goes back to strengthening the connection you have with your patients. Once upon a time, we only talked to our doctor when we showed up for an appointment.
Now, doctors have great tools to keep the communication going between appointments. You might create a newsletter for your patients and email it to them once a month. You could include a topic of the month (skin cancer prevention in July, for example), recipes for healthy dinners and patient testimonials.
Texting is another way to stay in touch with your patients. In fact, most patients list the convenience of texting with their doctor’s office as among the most important factors in choosing a private practice.
Doctors who run private medical practices might also consider community involvement as a way to promote their business. You could sponsor a local health fair or offer to speak to community groups to help get your name out there.
Keep checking our blog for more business tips!