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Changing Public Perception of FQHCs Can Grow Your Business

As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), you’re a critical part of the U.S. healthcare safety net, providing care to uninsured and underinsured patients, regardless of their ability to pay. Clinics such as yours are estimated to save the U.S. healthcare system over $24 billion annually by reducing the need for expensive emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

Yet, competing with larger healthcare providers makes it more difficult for you to attract paying patients. People often assume that if a clinic is offering free or low-cost healthcare, the quality of care must be inferior compared to that provided by more expensive healthcare providers.

In addition to this, hospitals and other healthcare providers may be hesitant to partner with you if your clinic is seen as offering low-quality care or catering only to low-income patients. With no access to resources and support from other healthcare providers, you can’t provide the full range of healthcare services that your patients need.

To benefit both your business and the people you serve, it’s necessary to work on changing the public perception of FQHCs. Putting emphasis on patient-centered care and using the right approach to improve patient satisfaction can help you balance the payer mix and partner with other healthcare organizations. In return, better financial stability and flexibility will allow you to invest in new programs or services and improve health outcomes for millions of people across the country.

Importance of a Balanced Patient Mix

Changing public perception of FQHCs and reducing the stigma around seeking healthcare at clinics such as yours can encourage more people to seek the care they need and increase the number of paying patients. On the other hand, achieving a more balanced payer mix that covers both paying patients and patients with insurance can benefit you in several ways. 

To begin with, this can provide you with a more stable source of revenue. If you rely solely on federal funding and grants, you may struggle to maintain financial stability and sustainability. However, if you’re able to attract more paying patients and patients with insurance, you’ll be able to diversify revenue sources and ensure a more stable financial future.

Additionally, a more balanced payer mix can allow you to invest in new programs or services that you may not have been able to offer before. For example, you may be able to expand your mental health services or invest in new technology that can improve patient care. This way, you can better serve your community and meet the changing healthcare needs of your patients.

Finally, a more balanced payer mix can help you build relationships with other healthcare organizations and providers. If you’re seen as a valuable partner in the healthcare system, you’re more likely to receive support and resources from other healthcare providers, enabling you to improve the quality of care you provide to your patients.

How to Improve the Public Perception of FQHCs

Changing the public perception of FQHCs is an important step in improving access to healthcare for underserved populations and ensuring the long-term sustainability of your business. With the right strategies in place, it’s possible to transform negative stereotypes about the quality of care provided at FQHCs and build a positive reputation in your community.

Put Emphasis on Patient-Centered Care

Patient-centered care focuses on the needs and preferences of the patient, rather than the needs of the healthcare provider. As such, it can be an essential element in changing public perception of FQHCs. 

To achieve this, you have to make efforts to provide personalized care and create a welcoming and comfortable environment. In this process, you need to take into account the patient’s preferences, needs, and values when developing care plans. For example, you can offer flexible scheduling options, provide interpretation services for non-English speaking patients, and offer telehealth services to increase accessibility and convenience.

Another way to achieve patient-centered care is by using patient feedback to improve care quality. FQHCs can implement patient satisfaction surveys to gather feedback from patients and use the data to make changes that will improve the patient experience. For example, if patients report poor communication with staff, you can invest in staff training to improve their interaction skills and create a more welcoming environment.

Let Your Online Reputation Speak for You

If you and your staff are doing your best to provide excellent services and quality of care, but still fail in attracting paying patients, it’s time to start working on your online reputation, showcase your healthcare excellence, and contribute to changing the public perception of FQHCs.

Start by making it easy for your satisfied patients to leave online reviews. Given that it takes approximately 40 positive customer experiences to undo the damage of a single negative review, it’s important to keep the positive reviews coming to offset the negative. The best way to do this is to send automated review requests to remind patients to leave reviews, increase positive ones, and enhance your overall rating.

While you can’t prevent negative reviews, it’s essential to respond to all of them and show that you value patient feedback and are committed to improving your services. In addition to this, negative reviews give you an opportunity to acknowledge the patient’s concerns, provide solutions to address them, and demonstrate that you’re willing to make changes to improve patient satisfaction.

Your Google Business Profile can have a significant impact on your online reputation, so make sure that it’s up-to-date and contains accurate information about your practice, including your address, phone number, hours of operation, and services provided. Once your patients leave reviews on your GBP, it’s necessary to respond in a timely and professional manner to boost your practice’s local SEO rankings and make it more visible to potential patients in your area. 

Finally, you can use your physicians’ GBP profiles to showcase their expertise and credentials, strengthen your practice’s credibility even more and attract more patients. By optimizing each physician’s profile and encouraging them to actively engage with patients through the platform, you can establish a trusted reputation for them as well as for your practice as a whole.

 Use Social Media to Spread Awareness and Grow Empathy

Social media is an effective tool for reaching a wider audience and attracting paying patients who can help support your organization and its mission. Creating a strong social media presence and sharing engaging and informative content can raise awareness about your services, and grow empathy for your cause.

For example, you can use social media to start a public discussion about the stigma surrounding FQHCs to emphasize the importance of accessible and affordable healthcare for all and break down barriers that prevent people from seeking care at your facility.

One way to start a public discussion is by using a hashtag campaign. You can create a unique hashtag that captures the essence of your mission and values, and use it to raise awareness about your services and engage with your followers. By encouraging patients to share their stories using the hashtag, you can create a sense of community and inspire others to choose your healthcare services. 

Reaching out to like-minded influencers who are passionate about healthcare and social justice can also be a powerful way to change public perception of FQHCs and raise awareness. You can collaborate with influencers to share their stories, educate your followers about the importance of accessible healthcare, and encourage them to seek care at your facility. 

With the help of social media, you can break down stereotypes, attract more paying patients, and improve financial stability. This, in turn, can help you provide a wider range of services to underprivileged patients and improve health outcomes for your community.


Make Data Work for You

As FQHCs move toward a value-based care model, it’s important to consider how tools and tactics can help you improve patient outcomes. By using predictive analytics, you can create profiles of potential patients and target them with personalized marketing tactics. In other words, you can make data work for you in a powerful way, such as activating patients to schedule appointments that may improve their health outcomes and drive better quality scores. This can also support your delivery of chronic care, immunizations, screenings, and other necessary services without wasting resources or overwhelming your probably short-staffed clinic. 

In addition to this, using predictive analytics to analyze patient needs, communicate individually, and preserve resources creates an environment where both your staff and patients can thrive. And this is how you change the public perception of FQHCs and become competitive with private providers. As your quality scores improve, you will no longer be seen as only a safety net clinic, but a high-quality, comprehensive care unit with so much to offer. 

Foster Partnership and Collaboration

Building relationships with other healthcare providers can be a key element in changing the negative public perception of FQHCs. This demonstrates your commitment to providing high-quality care, helps break down negative stereotypes, and shows the public that FQHCs are an essential part of the healthcare system.

One study shows that 83% of FQHCs are forced to retain their independence from hospitals, but 72% of study participants are willing to work with like-minded organizations. Partnering with other healthcare providers, including other FQHCs, can help you address gaps in your services and expand your range. As a result, you can provide more comprehensive care to your patients and enhance your reputation in the community.

Moreover, building relationships with other healthcare providers can help you attract more patients and improve financial stability. Tapping into new patient populations and increasing their payer mix allows you to diversify your revenue streams and ensure a more stable financial future. This way, you can reinforce the public perception of FQHCs as high-quality and sustainable healthcare providers.

Break down Stereotypes and Grow Your FQHC

Let’s face it, managing an FQHC can be a challenging undertaking. You’re faced with numerous obstacles — workforce shortages, increasing regulatory requirements, growth in services, and rapidly evolving payment models. On top of that, you struggle to grow your business because of negative public perception of FQHCs. To eliminate this stigma, you need to show that FQHCs are a vital part of the healthcare system and find a way to present your practice in its greatest light.

With SocialClimb, you won’t be left wondering where to start or how to achieve this. With an all-in-one platform, you can confidently showcase your excellence, attract more patients, improve financial stability, and contribute to changing the public perception of FQHCs.

SocialClimb offers a suite of tools designed to help you build and manage your online reputation effectively. You can monitor online reviews, analyze patient feedback, and respond to patient inquiries in real time, but also build a robust online presence by creating custom websites and social media accounts. The data analytics tools enable you to gain insights into patient needs and preferences, helping you deliver more effective care and improve patient satisfaction. In addition, comprehensive data models help you build high-converting audiences while keeping patients’ data secure and maintaining HIPAA compliance. All of this contributes to changing public perception of FQHCs and balancing your payer mix, affording you the ability to do more good in your community.

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