In last week’s Tip Tuesday, we came up with a list of questions to ask to determine whether it’s time for a practice makeover or not. If your staff has had a chance to meet and come to the conclusion that it absolutely is, keep reading!
After identifying the areas that could use improvement, what are some ways you can incorporate changes that are necessary to see the growth and success you’ve always envisioned. Here are a couple of suggestions:
When it comes to marketing, everyone is always looking for the edge that will set them apart. Whatever is new, improved, better, more effective, or more efficient is the magic ingredient many marketing plans are missing, and that quest for the holy grail of effectiveness keeps marketing experts up at night. This is true for healthcare providers across the board, and it’s only getting more challenging each passing year. It gets harder to stretch the budget and to maximize the measurable results, so those in charge of marketing begin to feel pressured, and even a bit desperate, to make things happen. They look for areas of perceived weakness and think they can have a bigger impact. Unfortunately, in looking for those weak or untapped markets, many times they try to take on the unwinnable scenario.
There are two basic “no win” situations in healthcare marketing:
It’s another crazy day at the office. You have a full schedule (which is great!), but you are also trying to get caught up on emails, managing overdue patient bills and returning patient calls. You know how important it is that the patients being seen that day don’t feel your stress as they arrive for their appointment. We understand this too and know that it’s on these chaotic days, should you find yourself with an issue regarding your Solutionreach service that you need immediate assistance with, you simply don’t have time to pick up the phone and have that conversation. That’s why we implemented the “Mad Chatters”, our new online support feature.
There comes a time in virtually every business when things begin to feel stagnant. Arguably worse, you’ve had goals for your practice you anticipated reaching for the past couple of years and keep falling short of. When it comes to your practice, you can’t afford to be or stay stuck in a rut. Your level of success will depend on it. Where are you going wrong?
We’ve all heard the saying, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” Being creatures of habit certainly has its advantages, but within the walls of your practice, if those habits begin to fail at producing the results you’ve been expecting, it may be time for an office makeover. As a team, reevaluate your current processes and procedures and establish a new strategy for patient relationship management. If you feel you have been going around in circles trying to figure out exactly why you are stuck and how to get unstuck, here are some good questions to ask:
For decades, anyone with something to promote turned to promotional products to inspire, remind, and spread the word. They’ve become a cultural touchstone and an integral part of most marketing budgets. Products used for this purpose can range from inexpensive chachkies like pens, mugs, candy, or golf balls up to higher end gifts such as clocks, jewelry, blankets, or computers. But as budget time rolls around, it’s wise to look at exactly what these items are doing for your business and whether it’s worth investing a bit more or more prudent to cut back on the items you give to your patients.
Recently, the Promotional Products Association International conducted a survey of people who had received promotional items in a range of prices and categories, and they discovered a number of useful insights.
They looked at the types of items that had been used for promotional purposes, the costs associated with those items, the effectiveness of the items, the length of time items were kept or used, understanding of why promotional items were given, and the perceived value of items.
By developing insight into consumer views on these items, it’s easier to determine which items may be of best use for your practice and help you to budget for this kind of marketing more easily. (Image by HodgePodge Marketing)
In general, people who receive a promotional item appreciate the thoughtfulness of the gift regardless of the actual or perceived value. Even when the sole purpose of the item was to promote a business, recipients had a favorable reaction to the company who gave them the item.
The threat of two feet of snow is a pretty good reason for closing an office—which is what Tina Vu Kelly,OD, of Alexandria, Virginia, did as a late January snowstorm hit the mid-Atlantic region.
Amid predictions about exactly when the storm would hit, she canceled patients starting at noon on a Friday, which left time for staff and patients to get home or just stay home.
But executing that plan wasn’t a scramble of phone calls. For a few months, Dr. Kelly has been using Solutionreach, a software platform that handles all types of communication with patients. So letting patients know about canceled appointments and when the practice would be reopening once the storm had passed was done with just a few keystrokes at the computer. Patients got the news via text message or an email, whichever they preferred.
The use of Solutionreach’s system is one of the efficiencies practices can gain now that so many patients can be reached via smartphones, email and social media.
You are finally starting to get this practice management thing down…
Implement fresh marketing ideas…check! Send out monthly patient newsletters...check! Monitor and respond to patient reviews...check! Post regularly on and engage with your patients via social media…check! Great job! Give yourself a pat on the back!
Fine-tuning these efforts and other practice processes is a process in itself. With all of your hard work, you are beginning to bring your patient relationship management to a whole new level. Patients are better educated and more engaged than ever with your practice, and they seem to be more proactive about staying on top of their healthcare. Your practice is firing on all cylinders! This is great; however, do you know how your patients view your practice, your staff, and their experience when they come in for care? What if you could put yourself in their shoes? What would you learn about your practice?
If you ask yourself the following questions, you may be surprised at the answers you come up with:
As you consider looking at things from a patient’s perspective, consider these suggestions:
Each year on April 7, the World Health Organization (WHO) sponsors World Health Day, a day to focus on a particular health issue facing people around the world. This year the WHO is focusing on diabetes with their program Step Up: Beat Diabetes. They hope to increase awareness and bring attention to this complex disease through international activities, information, and open discussion online and in communities around the globe.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when either the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. There are three major types of diabetes: Type 1, which is the most frequent among children and adolescents; Type 2, which is the most frequent among adults and is linked other health issues such as obesity and heart disease; and Gestational Diabetes, which is a complication of pregnancy that affects approximately 10 percent of pregnancies worldwide.
Just a few years ago, the best marketing for your practice included brochures, flyers, magazine ads, newspapers, and if you had the budget, maybe a radio or television spot. Then along came the internet and everything changed.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a time machine or a crystal ball to see what the future of marketing looks like? Well, we can’t offer anything quite so magical as those, but we can look at trends, and based on an understanding of how people adapt to new things, we can make some predictions about where marking might go in the future. Here are five key issues that will impact and shape how you market your practice that you want to be aware of now.
1 - Clear vs. Clever
We are a culture of brevity. We don’t like waiting for commercials to be over, so we have technology designed to skip over them. In the past, the way to get your message seen was to employ a clever tactic: a funny image, cool animation, a great sound track, or whatever. But in today’s fast-paced world, clever doesn’t have the same pull. As the time span for grabbing attention continues to grow shorter, it’s more important than ever that your message be clear. Don’t make your audience work for understanding, keep your message simple and direct. Clean up the clutter on your website and social media pages. Limit the number of buttons, videos, moving graphics, and other possible distractions and opt for those that are easy to read, easy to find, and easy to use. Make sure the pictures on your site are less than six months old (which means regularly updating the images), and make sure that your links all work. There is nothing more frustrating to a potential patient than clicking on a “schedule now” button and getting a 402 Error message.
When referring to practice management, most often the issues addressed deal with the daily tasks to be accomplished and a more effective game plan for accomplishing them; ways to improve patient satisfaction or improve collections. However, no practice will experience a very high level of success if leadership is lacking. Effective leadership is the key to the success of any business or practice.
There are many elements to being a great leader, and this responsibility typically falls on the shoulders of the physician; however, office managers certainly bear a lot of this burden as well, as they are responsible for making sure the show runs smoothly day in and day out. So the leadership role is definitely shared, as it should be.
That being said, doctors have the power to set the overall tone for the practice as a whole, every single day. They can establish and enhance the brand of the practice through suggested daily routines, appearance of the office and staff, and set the attitude and demeanor each day as well. As every provider likely began with a mission and vision in mind for their practice, it is important that this be defined and shared with the staff on a regular basis as this can change as time goes on.
Here are some ways in which active leaders engage with their staff and patients in order to create the vision they are working towards:
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