The reality of any practice is that attrition is going to happen. Patients move away, they seek different care, and sadly they sometimes pass away. Attracting new patients is a challenge faced by all providers, but attracting younger patients - like the much discussed Millennials - can be even more challenging than you might think.
One of the most important keys to understanding Millennials is to understand their attraction to automation. This is the generation, after all, that grew up with computers from the time they were in diapers. They love things to be simple and convenient, which is what automation offers, and yet many care providers are reluctant to more fully automate their practices.
Why is this, and what small steps can you take to streamline your practice and attract this desirable population of patients?
Make a Solid First Impression
From the very beginning of the process, Millennials are looking for easy access to you and to your information. They will look online to find reviews about your practice and they’ll rely on sites like Google+, Healthgrades, or Yelp to provide them with a basic overview of your practice, your location, and your hours. Making sure that your information is current, easy to find, and that your reviews are generally positive is an important factor in attracting these patients to you.
Are you monitoring and responding to reviews about your office, both the good ones and the negative ones? Have you claimed your page and taken ownership and responsibility for them on these sites? Are you getting your existing patients to provide reviews and comments for you? Creating a solid first impression is crucial first step to encouraging these prospective patients to give you a try.
Offer Online Scheduling Options
When Millennials make the decision to schedule an appointment, they want to take action immediately. Many people work in “open plan” offices where privacy is difficult to come by. If they have to call your office “during regular office hours” and then provide personal information over the phone, chances are good most of them won’t make that call. They leave for work before your office opens and they get home after your office closes. Trying to catch your scheduler during that time is an extreme challenge.
So what can you do to accommodate this challenge? Providing an online, automated scheduling option demonstrates both your understanding of the circumstances and the needs of your prospective patient. Online scheduling software that syncs with your office scheduler is an easy addition to make and will be greatly appreciated by prospective and existing patients alike.
Digital From the Start
When your Millennial patient arrives for their visit, handing them a clipboard with a bunch of forms is not going to make a good impression. If they can’t complete the forms online prior to their visit, then at least offering them a digital check-in version, where the forms are presented on a tablet and completed electronically, is the next best step.
Though many care providers are resistant to shift from paper to digital, those who have made the move appreciate the time savings and cost savings they’ve seen. A patient tablet for digital check-in expedites the registration process and saves resources such as paper and filing space in your office.
An online patient portal is also an efficient and convenient method for communicating with patients. By providing a HIPAA-compliant online portal, patients can securely email your office with questions, request medication refills without having shout over their officemates, obtain test results or blood work through their phone, and get all this information at any time of day that is convenient to them.
Convenience is the Millennial buzzword
The more you can offer convenient alternatives, the more likely you’ll impress this group of young, potential patients. And they will be more likely to remain loyal over time because you demonstrated this understanding of their needs and challenges.
Electronic and digital methods of communication and information storage are safer and more reliable than their predecessors, and the growing list of legislative requirements is pushing the healthcare system in this direction for those very reasons.
When you understand how easy and cost-effective it can be to make the switch, you’ll see the wisdom behind those young Millennials demands. Start with a small step - online scheduling, for example - and when you see the positive impact that has, you’ll find the switch to other digital options isn’t so difficult or scary.