A good patient acqusition cycle is the lifeline that will keep your clinic/hospital running. This cycle not only entails acquiring new patients but also retaining them as your loyal customers. This cycle also involves getting more number of patients as a result of referrals made by your existing happy clients.
The fuel that keeps the engine of patient acquisition cycle rotating is derived from an inspiration of providing an exceptional patient experience. Without that, you cannot attract new patients to your practice which will cause your practice’s growth to stall.
In order to provide an exceptional patient experience, you’ll first need to understand and address your patients’ expectations. Apart from that, you’ll also need to market yourself so as to increase confidence and trust among your existing patients in a manner that is also beneficial to increase patient referrals for you.
1. Comprehend patients’ needs & expectations
To begin with, first you need to understand where you lack as a provider. For this, you’ll need to know about your patients’ needs and expectations, and your performance on those fronts. And, who is better placed to tell you this other than your patients!
Consider carrying out patient satisfaction surveys about your quality of care and customer service. Engage your patients into focused discussions on their experience during diagnosis, treatment, staff communication and hospitality in the hospital. You can conduct this either face-to-face interview or on social media chats and patient portals.
Find out what your patients are talking about you on review websites too. By compiling your notes on all the replies and responses, you can get a rough idea about your areas of improvement.
2. Carry out sentiment analysis
By empathizing with your patients and their concerns, you can get a grasp of their emotions in a more friendly and accurate manner.
You can directly engage with your patients to understand their emotions. However, you’ll not manage to understand and keep a record of each of their responses as well as analyse them. It is also very unlikely that your patients will share their emotions with you in an open way. Time might also be on your neck to talk over with each of your patients. This is where sentiement analysis software comes in for you.
By employing surveys that are powered by sentiment analysis software, you can understand your patients’ emotions very well and keep a report of them. This is all done with a in-depth analysis of your patients’ emotions and their intensity.
Sentiment analysis tools will come through for you greatly in this. It will assist you send a survey link to your patients immediately they leave your office. Consider including these questions in your survey to trigger responses that can be analyzed for sentiment:
- Their possibility of recommending you to their friends/relatives based on their experience. Use a scale of 1-5 (most common) or 0-10 (industry standard for calculating net promoter score).
- Open-ended comment box. They can elaborate on their rating and anything else they’d like to say about their experience.
From the written feedback, the AI technology will extract human emotions. This will help you comprehend exactly how your patients felt about their experince in your clinic. Take note of patterns overtime to identify problem areas.
3. Identify your target audience based on demography
While taking time to understand your patients’ needs and wants, you should also make effort find out your target audience of your clinic based on their demography like location, gender, age, etc. This will guide you in designing and executing very focused marketing campaigns and also optimizing your online marketing entities and activities.
Your website’s Google Analytics account is of great help when it comes to getting demographic data regarding both the actual converts and the interested prospects. If you do not have a website for your practice or would like to have a digitel marketing agency that offers website data analytics, check out Healthcare Digital Marketing.
4. Design unique internal patient referral programs
Your first stage in the journey of getting more patients is identifying and understanding your target audience. The next step to take is to fix internal marketing practices at your clinic geared towards increasing patient referrals.
Just asking your patients for referrals, or rewarding them for it may not be effective in providing much benefit. You can make your referral programs have more effective results by engaging your patients in an interactive conversation, and empathizing with their concerns.
- Display short commercials. Show a short, informative, and conversational commercial (during wait times) on ways of helping other patients in the practice. A patient’s emotion can be triggered when they hear stories of how a patient helped another patient.
- Offer referral bonuses. Rewarding directly isn’t a great way. Nonetheless, you can still reward by giving discount to the referrer in their next visit. Remember to include a note on how much and why you discounted them while submitting the insurance.
- Ask for reviews. Ask your happy patients to leave reviews on your online accounts and website. This will help improve your online reputation. Help them do this by sending a link for posting a review soon after they exit your office. It will help you get more patients from the internet route.
You can also consider employing some more proactive measures such as calling each of your patients at the end of the day to demonstrate empathy and compassion. You can also send birthday cards or even insert customized referral cards with your monthly patient newsletters.
P.S. –To fix accountability, assign the patient referral internal marketing program to a specific employee. This is more crucial for clinics or hospitals that are too busy for marketing.
5. Build strong relationships with referring practices
Strong, symbiotic relationships with referring practices like PCPs and other non-specialists are of necessity in getting more patients to your clinic.
It takes time to build strong reputation among referring practices. However, you can easily secure a strong and long-lasting relationship with them by ensuring an optimal physician-to-physician communication and a privileged care to the patients referred by them.
One important feature of an optimal communication entails transfer of pertinent clinical information in both directions (referring physician to physician referred). Patients dislike to restate their medical history every time they’re referred to another physician.
On top of improving on communication matters, also focus on providing a fast and effective care to your referred patients. This will retain them for life long.
Here are a few tips to acquaint you about how to provide privileged care to your referred patients:
- Inform over-the-counter staff to promptly attend to the referred patients.
- Facilitate speedy appointment to them. Do not let them wait for too long.
- Make a direct line of contact in your office and the office of the referring practice for timely information sharing. This will alleviate the frustration of a lengthy phone tree system.
- Soon after the patient has been attended to, send over the treatment and other medical notes to the referring practice.
Providing privileged care to referred patients simply means letting them feel special. It doesn’t mean falling short on providing quality care to the other regular patients. After all, you’ve to promote internal referring through them.
6. Establish a robust online presence & authority
Most of the patients referred to you will most likely cross-check your reputation on the web. If they find negative reviews about you, or if they can’t access your site in the first place, they’ll most likely opt for other options, and may even go out of the referral network.
In that case, you’ll need to have a strong online presence and an authoritative influence on the internet to stop them from diverting. The Medical Hub offers healthcare digital marketing services. Find out more on this information page Healthcare Digital Marketing.
Here’s what your patients expect to find when they search for you on the web:
- Find you easily on the web – a robust online presence for an easier reach is ensured by a strong SEO strategy in place.
- Find a positive reputation about you and your quality of care on the web – online reputation management inevitable in building a positive reputation.
- Be able to navigate through your website swiftly and easily without distractions – you need a good website design with a clear UX interface for this to be possible.
- Ease of scheduling speedy appointments – For this to work, set aside a separate landing page with a clear and strong call-to-action.
A strong online presence is not equivalent to being found easily. Impression that your brand leaves on your patients as the first impression also counts. This won’t be just enough with a stream of positive reviews. Also focus on gathering online authority by connecting with influencers and getting mentions from them. To emit a reputable impression to your patients, have multiple mentions from reputed brands across the online space.
Influencer marketing is key in your online marketing strategy. This enables you get valuable links from reputable persons, companies, or publications from your industry. It imporves your website rank on search engines, and also get a higher presence and authority on social media.
7. Grow reach in your patient community
As a doctor, most of your customers (or patients) come from your locality. It’s essential for you to join your local community and connect with members on a deeper level. This could be highly rewarding as having a strong community of patients also lets you advance your reach in both online and offline space.
Here are ideas of things you can do to build a strong community and get a hold of your presence in it:
- Newsletters: Patients enjoy receiving and reading newsletters that solve their health concerns. Distribute neighborhood newsletters that share tips and information for health improvement. The aim here is to actively engage your patients by providing an interactive discussion material. Newsletters are also a great tool for branding. Always keep your practice on the forefront of your patients’ minds.
- Community events: Participating in community events. Attend volunteer activities and neighborhood celebrations. These can brilliantly improve local networking and establish your strong presence in the community. The key to success here is to be visible, friendly, and being supportive to your patient community.
- Sponsor events and leagues: Another brilliant way for community relationship building is to sponsor small fun and sports events and little leagues. You can do this on an annual or bi-yearly basis. Having a sports team of kids or adults in your practice’s name will immensely improve your brand authority in the community.
- Facebook page: Form an online community of your patients. Set up a Facebook page in your practice’s name. This can be a great place for showing off the culture of your practice from patients’ and staff’s perspective. Facebook pages are also a great way to promote engagement. You can use them to start conversation on different health matters, conducting quizzes, and spreading awareness about your activities and events as a healthcare provider.
Be in touch with various online and offline local news and media houses. Create a rapport with them. Leverage it for getting the news about your participation, sponsors, and other professional activities published through them for a wider brand reach.
In the End…
Each of these tips calls for specific knowledge and efforts to be carried out successfully. Some of this knowledge and efforts will come from your practice’s team, while some will be needed from your healthcare marketing team. For digital marketing services, The Medical Hub can handle it for you.