Doctors, Keep Your Independent Practice Independent
Posted on Oct 8, 2020 by Marilyn Bunderson
It’s becoming more difficult for medical practices to remain independent, but we can help your independent practice thrive.
Independent practices don’t look like they did before COVID-19 hit. Magazines are gone from the waiting room, too great a risk of the virus passing from one person to another from their innocent pages. Patients sit masked and distanced, no companions to keep them company. Bottles of hand sanitizer dot the reception desk at regular intervals, giving patients the opportunity to get rid of outside germs they’ve picked up from opening doors, using their phones, and living their lives.
The staff disinfects the office several times a day, and temperatures are taken before patients are allowed in. To keep office personnel safe, plastic shields hang from the ceiling in front of each receptionist. Oh how times have changed.
Necessary changes in doctors’ offices across the nation are apparent from the moment we make an appointment. But the impact of the pandemic goes beyond these superficial differences. Doctors took a huge financial hit when elective surgeries were banned earlier in the year. And even now, as most medical practices are “back in business” so to speak, schedules fill slowly.
The Plight of Independent Practices
If COVID-19 was the only difficulty doctors faced, perhaps the situation wouldn’t be so dire. But independent practices found it hard to remain independent long before the pandemic turned up the heat.
Increasing regulatory and compliance measures have been making things tough for several years. Billing and collections can be difficult at best for independent practices, especially when you throw in new data collection requirements, declining revenues as insurers underpay providers, and government regulations like MACRA MIPS. In addition, independent practices generally have less influence on payer contracts and can struggle to get paid for what they do.
Independent medical practices were already in a precarious place, and the pandemic has exacerbated the situation. Doctors face a financial hole that looks difficult at best to climb out of. And yet, independent practices are a key component of fixing the country’s health in the face of a pending health crisis brought on by unmanaged health conditions.
The key to remaining independent is to attract profitable patients. Easier said than done, right?
Actually, we’ve helped thousands of doctors and medical practices automate their patient acquisition and attract profitable patients so they could remain independent. Most practices begin to see measurable results in only a few weeks. (Pay attention to that word, measurable. It’s important.)
The thing is, the way patients find a doctor has evolved over the years.
The internet contains a wealth of knowledge, and medical consumers use it to seek out, fact check, and verify information. They’ve learned to become a bit cynical when someone feeds them a convenient fact, so they tend to dig a little deeper.
When it comes to healthcare, that means they want to see what unbiased strangers have to say about their doctor. So they search for care and then take a close look at a doctor’s rating and reviews. A recent survey found that 71% of patient journeys BEGIN with reading online reviews when they search for care.
Truth bomb: If your online rating does not accurately reflect your high level of care, you are losing patients.
Automate your patient acquisition
You need to get your online reputation in shape to accurately represent your level of expertise. Many doctors make the mistake of ignoring their reputation because they think it doesn’t really matter. It does. And it’s the first step in our strategy to help you retain your independent practice.
If you do nothing, only patients who feel strongly will leave you a review, and many doctors end up with negative reviews that are not fairly balanced with reviews left by their majority of happy patients. We auto-send review requests to each of your patients within 24 hours after their appointment, and we’ve found that approximately 10% of patients respond. Simply asking for a review will begin to build your number of reviews and improve your star rating.
Improving your star rating and increasing your number of reviews is part of the equation in improving your online visibility. Pair that with optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) listing, and you’ll start showing up in search results when patients search online for care in your area.
Once you show up in online search results, you’ll begin to attract patients to your practice organically. It’s a simple chain reaction—think If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. If you follow the steps, you’ll get seen and chosen by online medical consumers. You’re basically meeting patients where they search for care.
The great news is, it’s fully automated. Our platform integrates with your patient management system, we get your GMB listings set up, and you sit back and watch your schedules fill.
Automated patient acquisition: check. (Keep reading to learn how you can measure the effectiveness of managing your reputation.)
Identify your ideal patients
Once you’ve whipped your reputation into shape, and you’re bringing in patients organically, it’s time to up your game. Hang on, this is where it gets exciting.
Our patient analytics pairs big data with machine learning to identify your ideal patients. With data on over 250 million people in the U.S. across 200 data points, our AI tools can identify who in your area needs care so you can target them directly.
You select from one of our 40+ care models, we plug it into the database, and you’ll see which zip codes in your area have high concentrations of patients. If you want to see more patients with foot and ankle problems, you select that care model, and our AI tools do the rest.
You’ll set up your geo target based on the zip code areas you want to target, and we’ll send out Google ads, so your information shows up when people in those areas search for care.
Each month you’ll receive a Marketing Report Card showing how many patients have made appointments from your GMB listing (the organic results) and from your Boost Ads (the targeted ads). You’ll also see how much you’ve spent as well as the calculated patient acquisition cost from your efforts.
Those numbers are essential to track your progress and fine tune your marketing spend. Measuring the effect of your marketing spend ensures that you’re putting your hard-earned money to its best use.
Enjoy a better patient mix
The patients you bring in from your targeted ads gives you a better mix of patients on two fronts. First, you’ll see more of the type of patients you want to specialize in. You’ve earned the right to spend your time focusing on the type of care you enjoy most and excel in providing.
If you’re the best knee replacement surgeon in your area, let’s get you focusing on those procedures. If you prefer to work on foot and ankle issues, that’s who you should see. Your patients deserve the best, and we can help you connect with them.
The second aspect of a better patient mix involves reimbursement. Our predictive analytics tools identify people at risk for specific conditions who will also be high-value patients. It’s best to work with patients who carry the type of insurance that works best for you. Our tools can also track individuals with a history of on-time payments and those who are on Medicare or self pay.
With all the regulations and insurance hoops you have to jump through, it is in your financial best interest to make sure your payer mix will benefit your bottom line. Identifying and targeting your best patients will build your schedule with patients that will allow you to maintain your independent practice.
You didn’t go to school for as long as you did in order to answer to someone else. You’ve worked hard to plot your own course, and our marketing strategies and tools will keep you on track with your goals. Our metrics speak for themselves.
You’ve experienced enough unexpected bumps in your road this year, don’t let acquisition be another one. Call us today for a demo, and take the steps necessary to continue to run your practice the way it should be run. Keep your independence where it belongs, in your own hands.
Posted in Automated Practice Marketing