APRIL 28, 2013 [By Michael Tetreault, Editor] — One thing almost all concierge, direct care and boutique medical practice owners around the U.S. need is more patients. Have you ever wondered how proper business planning can help you find new patients for your new practice model? The key for any physician/business owner is to take a step back from your daily routine and reconsider your strategy. Additionally, what strategies have impacted patient volume at your practice the most in the past six or even twelve months? While you were busy building your practice, your local market or your patient-base may have changed slightly. Economics sure have shifted recently in almost every small town and suburb and how has your practice responded to patients watching their bottom-line even more closely than before? You can sometimes identify these changes by asking other physicians, searching online or joining a social media group (CLICK HERE TO JOIN CMTs PAGE for FREE) to give yourself some new angles.
After all this, your goal should be to redevelop your concierge/private practice business plan by adding new marketing/sales initiatives to your practice. Each strategy should involve specific responsibilities that can be assigned to specific people within your practice — with deadlines, start dates and anticipated budgetary costs.
We’ve put together a few steps that should set you on a path to finding new patients for your modern medical home and hopefully to higher annual sales as well:
STRATEGY # 1 — Cross-Sell Services more to existing patients. A basic and core principle that any marketing consultant worth their salt will tell you is … you can sell new products/services to old clients and old products/services to new clients … but never, under any circumstances try selling old products/services to old clients and new products/services to new clients. Hopefully that makes sense to you. Let me explain even further. The quickest path to healthy bottom-line growth in a concierge/private medical practice is continuing to reinvent or reposition your services as unique so patients will keep coming back to you for more help. One of the greatest challenges physicians like yourself face when starting these new concierge-style medical homes is acquiring more new patients. When they’ve completed the transition and have an established patient-base of around 300 patients – the doctor starts to say ‘I now need more patients.’ Well, this challenge puts you squarely in the box of taking a new service/business model to new, prospective patients. We’ve learned from many doctors that for the majority (72%) of doctors trying to acquire new patients into their practice, it’s taking 3-4+ months to recruit one new patient! The best story I’ve heard is the concierge/private physician that contacted her entire patient base and reminded them all (via phone personal telephone call from the doctor – not staff) that they were approaching their prescription renewal and the doctor would like to see you — to review whether or not that medication was working, not working, needed to be adjusted and just in general, talk to the patients about how things are going. This practice created a special promotion and cleared met some internal goals in the process.
How could something like that work for your practice? The story illustrates how patients can be grateful for reminders, and be ready to say yes to improved relationship with their doctor and overall better quality health. Essentially, there are three parts to it: Determining what you can offer that relates to your patients and practice offerings, how to turn these ideas into an event and how to get the message out to patients.
When you come up with something, put it into the milestones of your business plan. Give it a start date, end date, and a person in charge. Estimate additional revenue so you’ll know, for next time, whether you underestimated or overestimated.
STRATEGY # 2 — Review your pricing. Price is the most powerful marketing message you have. What’s most important isn’t the high or low of it, but how it matches your strategy. When Concierge Medicine Today asked current patients of similar concierge-style medical practice, ‘what is the most common objection you have that influences your decision when choosing a private, concierge doctor is …’ 34% said price is biggest concern/objection they have, followed closely by insurance compatibility at 29%. (Source: The Concierge Medicine Research Collective 2010-2012)
Some concierge medical practices are built around visible, low priced services aimed to bring people up to their service window and generate higher unit sales. Others offer more personal services and sprinkle in more relational ingredients into their business plan aimed at meeting a need at a higher price and communicating a message routinely to patients that keeps them coming back for more assistance. A problem with frequent low pricing is that your concierge/private medical practice may wind up losing patients who assume your stable of services are not keeping pace with their needs.
Should you decide to revise your pricing, make sure you reflect that in your sales forecast, research your competitors, analyze your marketplace and insert appropriately into your overall marketing messages when necessary. While you may think the marketplace can bear a higher retainer/annual fee for your service, be cautious and analyze thoroughly before taking action steps. A knowledgeable marketing consultant can assist you with these types of analysis. At CMT, we have a list of Endorsed Local Providers that we can refer you to and help you make some of these decisions. (CLICK HERE TO ACCESS CMTs ENDORSED LOCAL PROVIDERS of CHOICE).
STRATEGY # 3 — Review your marketing messages. That means both the core content of your message, and how you are delivering it. In all businesses, regardless of concierge/private or direct care medicine or not, patients communicate in various ways. Some prefer SMS Text, some email, some face-to-face and some over the phone. Most recently, we’ve seen ‘THANK YOU’ NOTES coming back into the marketing mix – whereby doctors and their staff are encouraged to write thank you notes to patients for something they may have learned from them during a recent visit. It could be a new web site, a recipe or something else of practical value to you and your staff that communicates to your patients, ‘thank you for your visit, I listened to you and I appreciate you.’ Most patients use social media – particularly Facebook, and LinkedIn to spread the word about how sick they are or how ill their kids are and they had to take a day off from work. Social media is a new form of word-of-mouth advertising and it would behoove you and your practice to at the very least, start spreading the word on social media networks about what your practice has to offer.
Whatever strategy you decide on, make sure you consider adding these ideas and others to your existing concierge medicine or boutique practice business plan. As often as possible, include measurement and tracking methods so you can tell if you’ve successfully implemented the new idea. Then you follow-up and review actual results in the next six to twelve months, you can see what’s going right and what isn’t, and make the necessary adjustments to maximize the profits your modern medical practice home brings in.
And remember, we (CMT) have put together a list of Endorsed Local Providers that we recommend you try to and help you make some of these decisions and help grow your practice. (CLICK HERE TO ACCESS CMTs ENDORSED LOCAL PROVIDERS of CHOICE).