Study things like body posture. Read a book about power poses. I know it might sound silly considering all the time you spent in medical school learning about deep topics in medicine in order to solve the worlds healthcare problems, but this stuff matters to Patients.
By Concierge Medicine Today, Editor-in-Chief
The promotion of your private-pay, concierge medical practice requires personal interaction with current and prospective patients to create interest in your services, staff and practice. Since “prospective patients” include current patients that may become repeat visitors, promotion can happen inside as well as outside of the practice.
Try some of these tactics to promote your concierge medical practice:
1. Follow up personally with patients via a secure, HIPAA compliant, safe, trackable messaging app.
My Doctor uses Spruce for example. (Note, We’re not endorsing, just mentioning).
He is prompt and that’s very much appreciated.
Yes, you can get lost inside Apps, but they are all pretty intuitive these days. Just try a few out and see how it works for your practice.
2. Track Patient Satisfaction Benchmarks.
Wiser business people than you or I often say ‘What gets measured gets repeated.’
Often in medical offices, the squeaky wheel, or the loudest complaint or even the most in pain patient, gets all the attention. Rightfully so, but don’t let that be the benchmark by which your patient satisfaction inventory is assimilated.
Don’t let these one-off appointments take you away from your vision of providing excellent customer service. The loudest voice who complains the most or the last patient of the day isn’t the standard.
You can do this both inside and outside of the practice. How? Well, when currently practicing concierge physicians were asked, ‘How much time do you spend of the phone each day with patients?’ the results were as follows:
- 2% – less than 1-10-minutes /day;
- 8% – less than 11-25-minutes /day;
- 14% – less than 26-35-minutes /day;
- 12% – 36-45 minutes /day;
- 10% – 61-90-minutes /day;
- 19% – 90-minutes – 3 hours per day.
After patients complete their visit, it is never a bad idea for the doctor or Office Manager to ask them directly before they leave the four walls of your practice to fill out a comment card. Or, thank them and ask if they were satisfied with everything and wouldn’t mind giving you a Google or Yelp review. It might seem awkward at first, but occasionally you’ll get one or two Patients and that leads to better reviews.
You can also follow up on customer service issues at this time as well. It opens the door for dialogue. Maybe you’ll find out that something during the visit, which is often the case, didn’t go quite as they had expected. For example, if patients fill out a comment card and leave negative comments but they didn’t tell you about it or you avoided the elephant in the room at the time, they are now leaving your practice and entering a mission field in your community that can sabotage your practice reputation.
You could instead ask them a question or two about their visit before they exit or even call them to apologize for the negative experience. Maybe offer to make up for it next time by fixing the problem and giving them a discount or something of ‘unique value’.
Wouldn’t you like to have a sales force spreading the good news about you and your practice out and about in your local community operating essentially, for free?!
3. Keep your patients using THANK YOU notes ….
If you know me, I love talking about and telling every Doctor in the world about the importance of Thank You Notes to their Patients!
In fact, we designed a whole online Master Class about it based on Physician feedback over the years.
It’s old-fashioned but everyone loves to be thanked for something. The best part is, a patient ALWAYS reads them! It’s not junk mail. And, it’s rare! These handwritten, personal notes go a long way the next time you come up in conversation with friends, family, co-workers, etc.
Step 1. How to write a thank-you note [to a Patient]
4. Pitch your expertise to local companies.
You know stuff!
You know things about employee work forces, diabetes, hypertension or whatever it might be that people want to know about. Have you considered talking to some of the business owners in your local community about coming in for 30-45 minutes on a company/employee lunch hour, providing lunch or say a catered fast food tray and talking about certain health topics?
You can speak personally with the owners, human resources (HR) managers or appropriate company personnel at your local businesses or warehouses that are interested in what you have to say about their health. Don’t think they don’t want to know what you have to say. Consider setting up an appointment or hosting an educational (topic-focused) meeting or lunch event at their company.
What does it cost you to simply ask and start the conversation?
5. Be a part of local networking organizations.
Ask the chamber of commerce or the convention center for a list of contact information for organizations, such as service organizations, unions, political organizations, rotaries, networking agencies, etc.
Call them, find out when the next meeting is and start sharing with these business owners in your local community your practice story.
6. Keep Magazines Up-to-date.
If you are one of the rare private-pay, retainer, direct care of concierge doctors that still uses a waiting room, there is nothing worse than outdated magazines on your table.
Be sure to subscribe to the latest health and wellness magazines and be sure your staff tosses out anything older than last month.
7. Be friendly, not pushy.
Whenever you are talking to a prospective patient, show excitement about what you have to offer, smile and be easy-going.
You are now in the business of selling yourself to your patients. There’s nothing wrong with that. And, don’t let your colleagues bully or pressure you into saying that there is. They’re just plain wrong about that.
You have worth. You have value to your Patients.
But remember, five words from you mean more than fifty words about you.
If they are not very receptive of your new service offering, do not irritate them further.
8. Train employees in customer service and personal selling.
I don’t think a staff member or team member should be selling you to a Patient.
But, often is the case where the Physician delegates the paperwork and sales pitch to the team.
If that’s the case, every employee of your medical practice can and should be involved I ‘selling’ of the programs in your practice, but in the right ways.
Please train your customer service, front sliding glass window or front-office team … as well as all of your back-office staff to engage patients with a smile first and foremost.
Nothing is worse that encountering the grumpy, would rather be anywhere than here team member and then trust him/her with my debit card.
That doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.
Patients expect more, and they should.
Encourage people to ask questions and make sure your staff gives them to ask their questions before they answer or in many cases, interrupt.
When someone calls to talk to a team member about your practice on the phone, they should have training and a friendly demeanor. They should be leading that prospective patient down the educational path to learn more about your practice vs. the goal of getting them off the phone and in your exam room.
Patients have generous expectations these days. They have options. Believe it or not, people on the other side of the phone can tell whether or not you or your team is enjoying what you do when they talk to your practice on the phone.
Get some training. Invest in your team if this is your process.
Finally, provide patients with business cards (preferably with print on both sides and a low-risk offer) on promotional services, upcoming events, a QR code to something of value, etc. You might find they want to give one to their friends, family or co-worker. Be prepared. This will help boost interest, sales and it might even increase your employees’ enthusiasm if they are truly as excited about your practice as you are.
9. Use good body language.
Any time you are in public (i.e. meaning, when patients are in your practice) you should represent your practice with your best posture.
White coats, professional, clean-cut hair-styles, etc., are just one way to approach this.
But, that style isn’t for everybody anymore. Our culture has become less formal.
It’s important to use good body language however and sit up straight when you talk to people. Seems to go without saying but we’ve all had Physician visits whereby the Doctor is bent over and slouching on his roller stool over a medical chart.
Study posture. Read a book about power poses. It might sound silly considering all the time you spent in medical school honing your mind to solve the worlds healthcare problems. But this stuff matters to Patients.
As a Patient, if you don’t look like you care about your job, we pick up on that.
Make eye contact with us, smile and do not cross your arms or put your hands in your pockets.
Finally, if you are talking to someone on the phone, remember to smile while you are doing it, because the smile will come through in your voice over a phone call. Just try it. You’ll feel better and I think you’ll be surprised at the reception (no pun intended). lol
10. Get involved with the community.
One Physician I spoke to recently set up a table and handed out swag to his local community as a craft beer festival.
Another Physician said she sponsors the high school band and offers free physicals to her daughters high school athletics department.
The more local activities you are personally involved with, the more people you will meet.
Almost every person you meet is a new or potential patient. Maybe even a former patient.
You do not need to turn your whole social life into a sales pitch, but you can make a point of good-naturedly mentioning your practice to your friends and new acquaintances – particularly when you’re proud of what you do.
11. Single-Serve Coffee Brew Stations Making Big Impression With Concierge Patients
Seems cliche but a cup of coffee cuts the tension in a persons day. It gives them a moment of respite.
We don’t know what all is always happening in a Patients life.
Coffee and/or tea helps provide a few sips of rest.
And your office should be a place of rest and respite. You’re a doctors office in our community for goodness sake. It should be a place we feel we can recover.
Often however, you are seen and medical offices are quite the office.
“Be weird until the rest of the world catches up,” says author Jon Acuff.
Occasionally you might run out of the house without your own hot cup of tea or favorite blend of coffee at your side. If you’re like me, you love the convenience of a fresh, cup of tea or coffee when you’re running late and know you’re going to be sitting somewhere for 10-minutes or more.
The Keurig K-Cup coffee makers and other single-serve and pod coffee/tea brewers have come into businesses with a flury of excitement over the past many years. Patients spending any amount of time in your office will appreciate the convenience and employees of modern medical practices love the easy, no mess — clean up they provide.
Think about it.
12. Use Facebook “CHECK-IN” At Your Practice
Virtually every brand and business today has a Facebook Page. Unfortunately, medical practices are one of the last to adopt-a-page and jump into the social media-sphere. As most people are looking to fill idle time with smart phone usage, few medical practices have made their Facebook Business Page “local.” All that practices have to do to make their Page “local” is to add an address to their Facebook Page settings.
Once an address is added, Facebook users will be able to check-in by either tagging their location in a post or by navigating to your page and clicking “check-in.” Note that users must be within a certain radius before the “check-in” button will appear. tip; Make sure to change your Facebook Page “type” to “BRAND” or “LOCAL BUSINESS” in order to enable users to check-in. Otherwise, some Page types will not have an option to add an address.
13. Next Step, Prepare A Tablet Strategy For Your Practice
More and more people are using tablets like the iPad to surf the web during business hours, waiting rooms, meetings and at home. Searches among tablet users have increased exponentially in the past year and more PR agencies and small business promoters are encouraging business owners to stay updated in the latest technology trends by creating web sites, blogs and geo-targeted advertisements specific for tablets. This also includes the use of videos. So, while creating a tablet marketing strategy for your practice might seem like a time vacuum, it would be wise for you to consider talking to a web professional to help you prepare for the next phase in social connection.
14. Earlier Hours Inside “Modern” Medical Practices Becoming The Norm
If your mornings are anything like mine, you prefer to schedule the majority of your health exams and check-ups right away. In fact, the earlier the better! I’ll take the first possible appointment or even the second visit of the day because I know that I that my physician(s) are revving up for a busy day — and they and I, need to get our day moving.
I’m a big fan of practices which cater to the patient with hours starting at 6:30am or even 7am or even late into the evening. Just last week, I visited a few into a concierge practice in North Atlanta area and was pleasantly surprised at the early morning or after 6pm appointments they’ve made available to their patients every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Is this strategy for everyone? Of course not. You may have staff considerations to think about. But have you thought of even asking one of your employees to come in earlier and leave sooner or vice versa?
Just start the conversation and see what happens.
15. Refreshment Service Tips For Your Concierge Practice
- Keep a fresh assortment of tea and coffee flavors — don’t limit your lobby coffee maker to one or two flavors.
- Have one of your staff monitor the water tank twice a day (or more, in some cases) and fill the water tank with filtered or distilled water routinely.
- Use throw-away, to-go cups with lids. Lids show that you’ve gone the extra mile to provide convenience for your patients — plus, it helps prevents spills around the office!
- Don’t bring out the old coffee mugs from the break area.
- We all know the health factors that go along with drinking soda. Because you’re trying to promote good health, only in rare circumstances, offer soda to your guests if they ask for them. Have them chilled inside a small refrigerator in your lobby or in the break room.
- Have chilled, bottled water readily available for your patients.
Have a great tip to share? Send us your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the benefits and services concierge physicians provide to their patients and local community, attend the industry’s annual conference, the Concierge Medicine Forum, or go to Concierge Medicine Today’s resource center.