4 Ways to Fill Your Calendar with More Patients
Foot traffic in your medical practice seems to be declining lately and you are starting to grow concerned that you are not going to get enough business to justify keeping your current staff load. While there can be annual variations, such as more appointments during the cold and flu season, you will want to achieve stable appointment rates and keep your staff as busy as possible.
It’s possible that there are some marketing and community outreach tactics that you haven’t yet considered doing. Why not give any or all of the following four methods a try so you can start filling your appointment calendar with more patients?
1. Have Your Top Doctors Give Informative Public Talks
Make a mark by getting out and becoming more involved in the community. Your team can talk about new treatments or methods to stay healthier in symposiums and health fairs.
These talks can drum up more business and they establish your doctors as experts in their field.
2. Use Surface Mail and Email
Have you been avoiding the use of surface mail because marketing seems too crass? Tasteful, informative mailers to every household in your ZIP code can help bring in more calls for appointments, especially from people who have recently moved to town and need to find a new doctor.
At the same time, your staff should be requesting and recording each patient’s email address. Get their permission before you add them to your email newsletter list. Each newsletter should include interesting articles to help patients stay healthy. The newsletters will establish you as an authority and are a good way to keep your practice top of mind among recipients when they find themselves needing medical assistance.
3. Cross-Promote with a Non-Competing Practice
A great way to get more exposure and fill up your calendar is to form an alliance with a friendly, non-competing practice in the nearby area. For example, if you run an OB-GYN practice, you can partner with a pediatrician. Pregnant women will eventually need a doctor for their kid, and mothers who go to the pediatrician can get referrals to visit you the next time they are trying to get pregnant.
Another example is a family medicine practice that promotes a local sports medicine expert and vice versa. Kids injured playing soccer will get a referral to an orthopedist’s practice. When the sports medicine doctor gets a case better treated by a GP, she will send it your way.
Keep business cards and brochures of your partner handy and have that practice do the same to improve your marketing and cross-promotions.
4. Take Advantage of Social Media
If your doctors and nurse practitioners are not using social media, encourage them to use it to reach out to the community. They won’t be using Facebook or Twitter just to promote the practice, but your social media channels should not be used for trivial purposes, such as to proclaim that you really enjoyed a new movie or to show off a plate of food at your favorite restaurant.
Judicious use of social media to deliver useful and timely information can net you a number of followers out of your existing patient pool. The online friends of these followers may also be inclined to try out your medical practice.
Examples of topics to post include announcements about new techniques or equipment at your practice and reminders about vaccinations or the approach of allergy season.
You can’t do much about local economic variations in your city that might cause people to make fewer appointments. High unemployment can lead to a drop-off, and shifting demographics may also play a role in the decline in business. Your ability to adapt and try new marketing approaches may be just what keeps your practice afloat while others flounder.
- If you are seeing a decline in appointments at your practice, there are steps you can take to turn the situation around.
- Participate in public health fairs and encourage your doctors to give public talks.
- Remember to use surface mail as well as email to promote your practice.
- Cross-promotion with another doctor’s office can bring more patients your way.
- Harness social media to spread the word about your practice and share useful information.
About Stephen O'Connor
As a Director of Digital Marketing at Advanced Data Systems Corporation, Stephen spends his day's planning, writing, & designing resources for the modern healthcare professional. He has a strong affinity for snow crab legs, the ocean, and Rutgers Football.