Nothing quite electrifies practice management like consistently seeing a stream of new patients coming through your front door. In an increasingly more competitive market, your ability to grow your business can be as critical to your success as the quality of the care you deliver. How well you’re able to acquire new patients can be the difference between a thriving practice and one that’s just hanging on for dear life.

But let’s be real—we all know that attracting new patients is no Sunday picnic. Sure, there’s paid advertising, but given the realities of inflation, rising expenses, and paying higher wages to offset staff shortages, that may not be in the cards. More cost-effective acquisition requires careful planning, a realistic strategy to market your practice, and continuous efforts. It’s definitely a long game perspective that yields results over time by implementing various tactics, monitoring the performance of each method, and making adjustments to find the sweet spot within your overall acquisition strategy.

How do you get more patients in your practice? While there’s no fool-proof set of ways to go about it, we’ve come up with a set of key tips, hacks, and best practices to help you tweak your strategy, spark your creativity, and get you the results you’re looking for. While it’s certainly not an exhaustive list, it might be just the ticket to give your practice an infusion of fresh ideas to move the needle on your new patient recruitment efforts.

1. Manage Your Online Reputation

Since 94 percent of people search online reviews when picking a new doctor, you want to make sure you have an established process to check your online reviews that shape your practice’s online reputation. By getting more and better quality patient reviews, you can help your practice rank higher in search results which will translate into higher numbers of people contacting your practice to make an appointment. Collect, monitor, and reply to reviews to get more of the 4- and 5-star reviews that get your practice noticed online. You’ll also want to claim and update your online business listings to help your practice move up the search page.

You can save staff a lot of time and headaches by implementing an online review management tool that does all the heavy lifting for you. Utilize the solution to automate and streamline asking your patients for reviews, give you insights on trends, and help you track competitors. The more you can present an appealing online reputation, the more new patients you can expect to see on your schedule.

2. Revitalize Your Referral Program

Eighty-three percent of happy patients are willing to refer friends and family. But you’ve got to have a procedure in place to ask them, and more importantly, ensure that it’s as easy and convenient as possible for your “practice champions” to share referrals. If it’s a hassle or too big a lift, the leads won’t come.

Referrals remain a cost-effective way to acquire patients and build revenue. Though word-of-mouth referrals can be effective—72 percent of patients choose a doctor based on word-of-mouth recommendations, a more efficient approach is a referral solution. The tool automates the process by sending personalized invitations to patients who give your practice high marks on surveys. Another useful tactic is to add “Refer a Friend” links to your practice website and patient outreach newsletters.

3. Meet Your Patients’ Digital Access Expectations

It’s undeniable that today’s patients have higher expectations when it comes to how they interact with you. They want a faster, easier, more convenient patient experience that replaces phone calls with text messages and allows them to access your practice and its services digitally. A recent poll showed that 4 in 10 patients are willing to pay more to get faster, easier access to practices. As your patients evolve into “healthcare consumers,” are you offering them the accessibility and digital communication options that will keep them coming back and also attract new patients? Based on your specialty and the appointment type, can patients book a telehealth visit with you?

Patients—and prospective ones—want more features like real-time, two-way texting and self-service amenities like online schedulingonline bill pay, and digital intake forms that give them more flexibility and lead to a more effortless experience. Sixty percent of patients prefer online scheduling over a phone call because it’s quick, easy, and accessible 24/7. Patient communications tools with these capabilities give your patients more options and provide you with a competitive advantage to reel in more new patients. People searching for a provider will gravitate toward practices that enable them to book an appointment online and text them questions to streamline for a faster, more convenient care journey.

4. Drive a More Satisfying Patient Experience

Sometimes, it’s the smallest things that put a smile on your patients’ faces. Are they able to make a same-day appointment? If not, do you have an ASAP waitlist that allows them to get in your office sooner? Do you use a digital intake tool to expedite the check-in process and help them avoid long wait times by completing intake online before the appointment?

Your efforts to make the patient experience more enjoyable create goodwill that carries over when you ask patients to leave you a review on Google, Yelp, or Facebook, or refer a friend. Whether it’s word of mouth or your online reputation, the more your patients rave about their encounter with your practice, the greater the number of new patients you’ll be able to appeal to. Don’t forget that providing great customer service and patient-friendly policies and interactions will help net you the new patients you need to grow your practice.

5. Offer a Feature-Filled Practice Website and Social Media Presence 

After checking out your practice’s online reviews, lots of prospective patients will hop on over to your website. Is it modern, is it up-to-date, and can they book an appointment online? Does your site have the right mix of information, features, and accessibility to make them want to come back? Maintaining an attractive, user-friendly website helps confirm to new (and existing) patients that you’re a modern, forward-thinking practice that places the patients’ needs first and foremost.

Similarly, having an active social media presence let’s people know they can interact with you through those channels and find the latest information and news about your practice. These digital touch points drive home the message to those looking for a doctor that you’re involved and conscientious about meeting the care needs of your patients.

Key Takeaways

There’s any number of ways to ramp up new business for your practice. But the key to long-term success in patient acquisition is to adopt proven, cost-effective methods, tactics, and tools that will position your practice for consistent, year-after-year growth. They include:

  • Manage and cultivate your online reputation
  • Automate your referral process
  • Appeal to patients’ heightened digital connectivity expectations
  • Boost patient satisfaction by anticipating their needs
  • Keep patients coming back with modern website features and functionality
  • Where possible, combine these with paid advertising.