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Tag Archives: Patients

7 Proven Ways to Make Patients Fall in Love With Your Practice

7 Proven Ways to Make Patients Fall in Love With Your Practice

The Harvard Business Review recently surveyed thousands of customers to understand their service priorities. It was found that customers desired “an effortless experience” the most. The same outcomes can be applied to the healthcare community, where patients are our valuable customers. The more effort patients need to expend to get what they want, the more dissatisfied they will become.

Nurturing relationships with your patients is an important part of growing a successful medical practice. In this age of innovation and automation, caring for your patients has never been more critical.

At any moment, an unhappy patient can share their opinion with the public through social networks and negatively affect your practice. This is why it is more important than ever to create an unmatched experience for your patients to help develop your practice’s relationship with them into love. Creating love between your medical practice and your patients can help scale priceless positive word-of-mouth.

Creating a patient-focused culture of this nature is an opportunity that should not be overlooked. Most practices are failing when it comes to delivering the positive patient experience. This can be your opportunity to swoop in and enchant those patients into falling for your practice.

The Importance of Patient Satisfaction

Patient satisfaction is a marketing term that measures how services provided by a medical practice meet or surpass a patient’s expectations.

Patient satisfaction is important because it gives healthcare providers with a metric that they can use to manage and improve their practices.

In a survey of 200 marketing managers, nearly 71 percent responded that they found a patient satisfaction metric very useful in managing and monitoring their practices. Here are the top five reasons why patient satisfaction is so critical:

1. It indicates patient’s loyalty: Patient satisfaction is the best indicator of how likely a patient will come back in the future. Asking patients to rate their satisfaction level on a scale of 1-10 is a good way to find out if they will become repeat patients or brand advocates.

Any patient who gives you a rating of 7 and above can be considered satisfied, and you can safely expect him or her to come back and schedule repeat appointments. Patients who give you a rating of 9 or 10 can even become your brand advocates.

However, scores of 6 and below are warning signs that a patient is unhappy and at risk of leaving. These patients need to be put on a watch list and followed up so you can determine why their satisfaction is low. This is why patient satisfaction is one of the most effective metrics practices use to determine patient loyalty.

2. It is a point of distinction: In a competitive marketplace where practices compete for patients, patient satisfaction is seen as a key differentiator. Practices that succeed in these cutthroat environments are the ones that make patient satisfaction a priority in their business strategy.

7 Proven Ways to Make Patients Fall in Love With Your Practice

Practices that offer amazing patient experiences create environments where satisfaction is high and patient advocates are plenty. Not only can patient satisfaction scores help you keep a finger on the pulse of your existing patients, but it can also act as a point of differentiation for new patients.

3. It is cheaper to retain patients than acquire new ones: This is probably the most publicized patient satisfaction statistic. It costs six to seven times more to acquire new patients than it does to retain existing ones. Patients cost a lot of money to acquire. Your marketing team spends thousands of dollars getting the attention of potential patients, nurturing them into leads and motivating them to schedule an appointment. Why is it that you spend little or no money on patient retention?

Imagine if you allocated one-eighth of your total marketing budget toward patient retention.How do you think that will help you with improving patient satisfaction and retaining patients?

Here are some the most effective patient retention strategies to get you thinking:

  • Use blogs to educate patients.
  • Use emails to inform of special promotions.
  • Use satisfaction surveys to listen to complaints and compliments.
  • Delight patients by offering personalized experiences.

4. It increases patient’s lifetime value: According to a study by InfoQuest, a ‘totally satisfied’ patient contributes 2 to 3 times more revenue than a ‘somewhat satisfied’ patient. In addition, a ‘totally satisfied’ patient contributes 14 times more revenue than a ‘somewhat dissatisfied’ patient. Satisfaction plays an important role in how much revenue a patient generates for your practice. Successful practices understand the importance of patient lifetime value. By increasing patient lifetime value, you can improve the returns on your marketing dollar.

5. It reduces negative word-of-mouth: McKinsey revealed that an unhappy patient tells between 9 to 15 people about their experience. In fact, 13 percent of unhappy patients tell over 20 people about their experience. This is a lot of negative publicity. How much will that affect your practice and its reputation in your community?

Patient satisfaction is firmly linked to the bottom line and repeat appointments. What gets forgotten is how patient satisfaction negatively impacts your practice. It is one thing to lose a patent because he or she was unhappy. It is a different story altogether to lose 20 patients because of bad word-of-mouth.

In order to eliminate bad word-of-mouth, you must measure patient satisfaction on a regular basis. Tracking changes in the satisfaction level will help you identify if patients are happy with your services.

Most practices think they are the best and they have no dissatisfied patients. The reality is, almost 96 percent of unhappy patients do not complain. In fact, most unhappy patients will simply leave and never come back.

Patient satisfaction plays an integral role in your practice. Not only is it the leading indicator to measure patient loyalty, identify unhappy patients and reduce churn, it is also a key differentiator that helps to attract new patients in a highly competitive marketplace.

Tips to Increase Patient Satisfaction

As patient expectations are skyrocketing and profit margins are increasingly squeezed, focusing on positive patient experiences that boost engagement and add value to your practice is no longer an option: It is imperative. Research shows that when patients are fully engaged, they are both emotionally attached and rationally loyal to a medical practice. Not to mention, they are more valuable.

So, here are some important tips and strategies that practices can implement to increase patient satisfaction:

7 Proven Ways to Make Patients Fall in Love With Your Practice

1. Treat your patients right: Happy patients tell four to six people about their good experience. This is a way to influence word-of-mouth about your practice. Do not act as a nameless or faceless practice; instead, talk with your patients as a person representing the practice. You must always address your patients by name, and tell them your name at the very beginning of your consultation.

2. Respect your patients: One-third of patients say they experience rude staff at least once a month, and 58 percent of them tell their family and friends. This is exactly how negative word-of-mouth can work against your practice’s reputation for the long term. It is essential to be respectful of a patient’s mood when trying to resolve an issue they have with your practice. Maintaining your patience is key to giving your patient the time to air their grievances. This creates the opportunity for you to resolve the issue and make them comfortable. The more comfortable the patient is, the more likely he or she will share valuable feedback that can help promote your medical practice.

3. Always listen to your patients: As much as possible, have a healthy dialogue with your patients and listen to what they have to say. When listening to your patients, take into account what changes your practice and staff should infer from this feedback. Your patients are the lifeblood of your medical practice, and not dealing with legitimate requests will likely cause backlash.

You can use the following methods to gather feedback from your patients:

  • Surveys
  • Observation
  • Patient service
  • Social networks
  • Online communities and groups
  • Emails and web forms

4. Offer ongoing support to your patients: The biggest reason for patient attrition is dissatisfaction with staff or service. You should do everything in your power to provide excellent service to your patients on an ongoing basis. You must respond quickly and enthusiastically, and offer a special offer or discount with the hope of up-selling the patient to consider more services. There is never any reason to slow down on satisfying your target audience, especially when they are having a conversation with you over the phone. It is essential to note that 81 percent of practices with strong capabilities for delivering excellent patient experience are outperforming their competition.

5. Treat patients like valued partners: Take your patient’s feedback seriously and act upon workable requests. What is the point of listening if you are never going to act on that feedback? Make it clear that you want your patient’s valuable feedback and that your practice values them as a partner.

It is important for you to be completely transparent and allow your patients to contribute to improving your service for the future. Focusing on your patient to this level is an effective way to strengthen their trust and loyalty for your practice.

6. Be transparent: Being transparent is a must. Much like the tips and ideas discussed above, transparency is an essential element in building trust and satisfaction from your patients. But, what does it mean to be transparent?

  • Transparency means that you are not afraid of opinion and feedback.
  • Transparency means that you do not hide any facts.
  • Transparency means your employees’ personal and work identity blur.
  • Transparency means you like to have conversations with your patients.

7. Always keep your promises: Your word is your promise. Following up on your promises will show the transparency of your practice, while helping to build a feeling of trust with your patients. However, it is important to manage your patients’ expectations in order to ensure realistic goals are set. You must remain consistent in your messaging so that your patients can learn what they should expect from you in the future.

7 Proven Ways to Make Patients Fall in Love With Your Practice

Conclusion

Everything starts and ends with your patients. This is an area where business is won and lost. So, keeping your patients happy and satisfied is your primary responsibility. Happy patients will bring you more patients and opportunities, while unhappy ones may cause reputation crises. Therefore, loyal patients are one of your most important assets.

However, patient experience demands constant nurturing with a greater focus on strategy. Whether it is through emails, social networks, surveys or face to face, as a medical practice looking to thrive and attract more patients, it is essential to focus on patient experience.

Remember, in a reality where your patients pay your paychecks, you must treat patients as if they were your boss.

Practice Builders’ has decades of experience in helping our clients improve outcomes and enhance the patient experience. We create and implement the best practices in healthcare innovation along the patient journey. The result is improved the bottom line, increased sales and a strong online reputation. Contact us for a free consultation today.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

How to Gain and Retain Patients Through Referrals

How to Gain and Retain Patients Through Referrals

If you are a medical practitioner, your goal is to make your practice grow, and growth means attracting new patients and retaining existing ones. Marketing and advertising tactics may prove time-consuming and expensive.

Enter patient referrals. While you can use popular and effective marketing strategies, a significant part of attracting new patients includes getting them through referrals. Getting patient referrals from existing patients is one of the most successful medical practice promotion activities that you can put in place. This is primarily because new patients referred by existing patients are more likely to be happy and compliant than patients who find you on their own. Patient referrals are a much easier (and cost-effective) way to gain new patients rather than finding new patients through traditional or digital marketing strategies.

If you have not noticed, there are heaps of information available online on how to get more referrals from patients and grow your practice. While there is no harm in implementing the latest tools or fancy marketing tactics, they may not provide you with a strategy to gain patient referrals. They are not cheap, either. You may end up spending a lot of money and still not get anything implemented.

Regardless of the size of your medical practice, focusing on patient referrals will help you grow your practice without coming across forceful or sleazy.

Why are patient referrals more important now than ever before?

Over the past two decades, patients have dramatically changed the way they search for and purchase healthcare services. According to a survey, one in three American adults regularly search online for a medical condition. In addition, rising co-pays are causing patients to look for the best value. They are looking for healthcare providers on various websites, checking out online reviews and asking their friends and family before scheduling an appointment.

Potential patients now expect interactivity from physicians before committing to treatment. Healthcare providers who provide personal interactivity will earn the trust and confidence of key influencers.

How are traditional referrals different from patient referrals?

Healthcare providers are no longer the gatekeepers of medical referrals that they once were. Traditional marketing strategies used to leave physicians with little control once their work was complete. Patients received treatment and shared their experience with the world. If the patient chose to share a positive experience with others, the practice would benefit from a positive word-of-mouth. However, if the patient decided not to share his or her positive experience with others, the marketing opportunity would fizzle.

However, today, healthcare providers have more control over word-of-mouth marketing. The key to building a successful medical practice through word-of-mouth is to combine social networks with word-of-mouth marketing. Patients are more vocal now about their experiences because social networks motivate them to speak their minds. In the past, patients shared their experience with less than a dozen friends. Now, they can post their reviews online and reach thousands of potential patients.

How to Gain and Retain Patients Through Referrals

Can you use word-of-mouth patient referrals to your advantage?

As a physician wanting to market his or her practice, your primary goal must be to encourage your existing patients to act as ambassadors for your practice. This is similar to encouraging your patients to share their feedback the old-fashioned way, but it has a deeper impact. If you can get just a few patients to leverage social media for word-of-mouth marketing, you can reach massive numbers of potential patients.

The best way to encourage happy patients to share positive experiences is to provide them with as many opportunities as possible. Establish a strong online presence and use as many different platforms as possible. If you feel a particular social network or platform is not a good fit considering your target audience, find innovative ways to get involved. You can use websites such as Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook to establish a strong online presence. These websites will help drive traffic to your practice website and get potential patients to talk about your practice.

How can we help?

The world of medical marketing is constantly evolving, and it is normal to feel overwhelmed and unsure of what the future looks like. Tried-and-tested methods of traditional marketing may not produce the same results, but that does not mean we can ignore them completely. Word-of-mouth referrals are just as valuable today as they were a decade ago. However, today word-of-mouth referrals are being used in a way that can spread information faster. You can use them to generate new patients for your practice and build a thriving practice in this age of medical marketing.

There are a lot of practical and proven marketing strategies that you can use to grow your practice, but keeping your patients happy and satisfied needs to be at the very top of your list.

Most physicians do not realize the impact they can have by keeping regular contact with previous patients. It is the most strategic step you can take to increase the number and improve the quality of your patient referrals.
If the patient referral is a strategy you would like to explore, check out our eBook on What Every Healthcare Practice Should Know About Gaining and Retaining Referrals. In this eBook, we have shared best tips on how to use patient referrals to grow your medical practice. The eBook contains practical ideas and tips you can implement even with a busy schedule.

Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that getting referrals is easier and quicker when you are good at your job. However, it never hurts to be more proactive. So, if you are looking to grow your medical practice and gain more patient referrals, contact us. We can help!

For a free healthcare marketing consultation to make sure your practice is taking the right steps to attract more referrals, contact us today.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Infographic: Remind patients why breastfeeding is important

You know the benefits of breastfeeding for both mothers and children alike, but do your patients?

August is National Breastfeeding Month, the ideal time to remind expectant parents why breastfeeding is important to the health of their newborn children—and to mothers themselves.

The infographic below spells out the benefits of breastfeeding.

For children:

  • Decreased risk of childhood cancer
  • Higher visual acuity
  • Reduced risk of diabetes
  • Lower cholesterol

For mothers:

  • Reduced risk of breast, ovarian and endometrial cancer
  • Decreased risk of osteoporosis
  • Faster return of uterus to pre-pregnancy state
  • Lower risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and more

View the infographic here.

HealthCareCommunication.com

Medical Website Design Tips That Convert Leads to Patients

Medical Website Design Tips That Convert Leads to Patients

As a marketer, you must have invested a lot in marketing strategies in order to boost your website traffic. After tremendous amounts of content creation, social engagement and paid media, you think of celebrating because your website is finally able to pull in thousands of unique visitors every week. However, if your conversions are not picking up and growth is slow, then this is not the right time to celebrate. While it is critical to attracting more visitors to your website, those visitors are of no significance if they are not resulting in appointments. Unfortunately, website visitors do not grow your practice. Patients do. And if your website is not helping you improve conversion rates, it is not serving you well. This is where conversion rate optimization can benefit you.

Instead of attracting more visitors to your website, conversion rate optimization focuses on making your website more effective so that your existing visitors feel motivated to convert to patients.

No doubt, conversions are difficult to achieve. According to research, strong conversion rates hover in the range of 3 percent to 5 percent, depending on your specialty. The medical industry is tricky because your potential patients have a lot to consider before converting. Before getting into further details, here are a few points to get you thinking:

  • Typically, you will get merely five seconds to make an impression using a landing page. After five seconds, most of your visitors will leave.
  • Approximately 96 percent of your website visitors are not ready to buy.
  • The more landing pages you have, the more leads you are likely to attract.
  • A one-second delay in your website speed can cause a 7 percent reduction in conversions.
  • A/B testing is the preferred method that can help you increase the number of conversions.

If you too are struggling and looking to improve your conversion rates, you must look beyond the traditional tips and suggestions for bottlenecks.

Medical Website Design Tips That Convert Leads to Patients

Here are seven key healthcare website design principles to help you achieve better conversion rates:

1. User-friendly, responsive website design: A user-friendly web design is easy for visitors to navigate. If your website is too difficult to follow, visitors will become frustrated and will be less likely to convert to patients. Your website should also include your practice’s phone number, email ID, address and location in the footer. Ensuring that vital information is clear and prominently displayed will result in a higher conversion rate. Also, visitors may be accessing your website on whatever device they are using.

According to SmartInsights, more than 80 percent of people use smartphones as their primary method for browsing the Internet. It is important to be mindful of this trend because 30 percent of mobile users are likely to abandon a website if it is not optimized for mobile browsing. By having a responsive website, you place your practice in the best position to connect with highly engaged potential patients.

If your website is not using a responsive, mobile-compatible design, then it is time to upgrade your website. Failing to do so will not only make you lose potential patients but will also cause a significant drop in search rank and organic traffic.

2. Make your unique value proposition (USP) clear: There are plenty of healthcare providers out there, so it may become difficult to differentiate yourself from the pack. While the unique aspects of your practice may be known to you, conveying a clear value proposition to your visitors is vital to your conversions. Your visitors should clearly see on your landing page why they should come to your practice and what unique services you offer. What are your main selling points? Do you claim to provide the best services using the most advanced equipment? Do you offer discounts? Your landing page or homepage should address the top questions that potential patients may have about your practice. You are likely to increase your chances of converting a visitor into the patient if you have a clear value proposition that encourages the visitor to take action.

3. Test your calls-to-actions (CTA) buttons: What is the purpose of each page on your website? After a visitor reads a page, what is the action that you hope they will take? Do you expect the visitor to make an appointment or contact you for more information? The easiest way to accomplish your goals is to add a call-to-action button at the end of each page that prompts visitors to take the desired action. The CTA buttons are an essential element for influencing your visitors and should be easily visible. Make sure strong calls-to-action buttons are present on all pages and stand out from the other information on the page. According to research, changing your CTA buttons from green to red can increase conversions by as much as 34 percent. Also, using encouraging language like “Click to see pricing plans” can help increase conversions by 252 percent. Placing the prominent CTAs, such as ‘Contact Us’ or ‘Request an Appointment’ inside a circle or button, can make them stand out from other elements on the page. Make it easy for the visitor to complete the action.

4. Test your headlines: The headline can make or break your patient conversion rates. The first thing a visitor reads on your website is your headline. The first impression is formed within the initial few seconds, and the headline plays a major role in shaping that opinion. It is important to know what resonates most with your visitors. While there is no magic wand to help you find the way, there are a few guidelines that you can follow.

If your headline is unclear or mysterious, you confuse your visitors into leaving. On the other hand, a well-written informational headline can encourage your visitors to take a closer look at your services.

Having a clear headline with a unique value proposition is critical. You can consider adding discounts or free services in your headline in order to attract more eyeballs. You will need to test a couple of ideas and see what works. Be creative with your headlines and inform the visitor of your USPs. The goal is to serve them useful information in a creative way that pushes them one step closer to converting.

Medical Website Design Tips That Convert Leads to Patients

5. Try to shorten and simplify contact forms: Limit the forms only to the necessary number of fields. How many times have you been willing to sign up for a service, continue and see more than 25 fields to fill in? Will you not just leave the site? Respecting visitors’ time is critical. If you have managed to encourage the visitor to sign up, it is important that you do not make him or her drop off because your form is too long.

If your aim is to convince a visitor to fill a form, make sure the form is small. Ask for the information that you really need. For instance, in an appointment request form, you should include fields for the patient’s name, email address, location and maybe the current illness.

Build short forms, and only ask for what you need. Try not to include optional fields such as username, birthdate, security questions and verification code. In fact, do not force your visitors to create an account, even if they are coming for the first time. You will end up interrupting their conversion process.

6. Use video content to engage visitors: Videos are far more engaging than static text content and can help you build an initial human connection with potential patients when they are seeking a new healthcare provider. According to a study, one out of every three healthcare customers is actively searching for healthcare videos online. Before uploading video content, think about the needs of your potential patients and what they are hoping to find when they visit your website. Most potential patients want to feel a connection with a practice they entrust themselves to and want to feel cared for in the process. Video content is a powerful way to convey that message and bring more patients through the door.

7. Offer live chat: Implementing a live chat feature is believed to increase signup form fills by almost 31 percent. Many websites use chat tools to generate leads and convert them to customers. A website visitor is more likely to turn into your patient if he interacts with a person, and this is what a chat box does. Visitors can directly click on the chat box and ask questions to the patient care representatives at the other end. With a chat box, you will also understand what your potential patients need or want from your medical practice, and this insight can help you enhance your services.

Medical Website Design Tips That Convert Leads to Patients

Your website is the online face of your medical practice. By stepping back, taking a consistent look and implementing these seven key tactics, you will be able to elevate your website from a mere online brochure to a lead-attracting and converting tool. The healthcare industry, as well as the preferences of patients, have changed drastically over the past few years. It is time for your website to do the same.

An excellent healthcare website design should strike a delicate balance between conversion goals and esthetics in order to sell your services. Your website should be striking enough to grab the attention of visitors, yet useful enough to convey the essence of your brand. An effective healthcare website will let the content stand out without the distraction of visual elements.

These healthcare website design tips will not only improve conversion rates, but will also help you attract more qualified traffic.

At Practice Builders, we have specialized in medical marketing and healthcare website design for over three decades. This singular focus gives us the expertise, data and the insight to build healthcare website designs that provide one of the best conversion rates in the industry. Contact us for a free consultation and quote.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

How are you reaching all your patients in the digital age?

Are high-tech innovations increasing medical access, or are they putting restrictions on patients with disabilities?

Health care providers are aware of and comply with ADA accessibility, but what about the barriers created by technology for patients with communication and processing differences?

Telemedicine

With apps such as Doctor on Demand, telemedicine has become a powerful tool that can lower health care costs , increase patient monitoring and bring patient care to isolated areas. Yet the accessibility of telemedicine depends on the individual’s needs.

Treating patients with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder might require certain accommodations, such as recording the session for repeated viewing, providing written follow-up and paying careful attention to the patient’s body language. It’s easy to overlook these factors when people aren’t physically in the room with you, but telemedicine makes it even more important that practitioners be mindful of them.

Visual data

Visual content such as health-related infographics can help you share information with your audience. If that content isn’t engineered to respond to screen readers, it will be inaccessible for those with visual impairments or others with limited literacy or disabilities that hamper information-processing functions.

As the use of videos increases on health care websites, so does the demand for captioning to accommodate patients with hearing impairments. These same patients can’t use telemedicine conferencing if the content isn’t interpreted for them or accompanied by text chat.

Technology has been democratizing communication for disabled individuals, particularly through the use of augmentative and alternative communication (ACC). This is a common mode of communication for people with autism, but people with a wide variety of disabilities use ACC to communicate. ACC may be digital—involving typing or image-based communication—and can limit the ways that the user interacts with others, but this form of communication ought to be treated equally, even as we push digitization.

Anna Johansson is a freelance writer, researcher and business consultant. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn .

HealthCareCommunication.com

Infographic: 10 common diet traps your patients can avoid

One researcher calls new data on obesity in America “a wake-up call.”

The past 20 years have seen a startling spike in the number of overweight and obese people in the U.S. Highlights from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paint a dismal picture, one that can improve with the help of health care communicators, marketers and PR pros.

The CDC says around 70 percent of people age 25 and older are overweight or obese. That’s a jump from nearly 60 percent two decades ago.

The Washington Post says this marks the first time obese/overweight people outnumber those who maintain a healthy weight.

In rethinking your outreach efforts, consider the diet traps outlined in this infographic. Many of your patients probably experience these challenges as they battle the scale. You can encourage them to:

  • Eat three meals a day.

  • Pay attention to nutrition labels, especially calories, saturated fat and sodium.

  • Listen to their bodies and avoid emotional eating.

  • Exercise at least five days a week.

  • Ingest vitamins and minerals to boost energy levels.

  • Get back on track despite a splurge.

(View a larger image)

10-Common-Diet-Traps-Infographic

(Image via)

This article was first published in June 2016.

HealthCareCommunication.com

Is Concierge Practice the Right Decision for You and Your Patients?

Is Concierge Practice the Right Decision for You and Your Patients?

Jam-packed waiting rooms, busy schedules, longer wait times, doctors too stressed to listen to their patients — such feedback is common when we talk about healthcare practitioners.
However, what may come as a surprise to us is that these sentiments are conveyed by both doctors and patients. This is why many medical practitioners are seeking a solution called “concierge medicine.”

What exactly is a concierge practice?

In the hospitality industry, “concierge” means personalized service. For instance, we can request a hotel concierge to make lunch reservations for us and say thanks with a tip that can be paid before or after the services are rendered.

Similarly, in the medical world, concierge practice, also known as boutique practice or direct care, is about delivering personalized services, from a doctor to his or her patients. A concierge practice charges patients an annual fee in exchange for personalized and enhanced services that are usually not covered under insurance plans.

The patient pays an annual fee for personalized care, as defined by the physician. The personalized and enhanced medical services may include unlimited office visits, easier and quicker appointments, less waiting time, immediate access to the physician through a phone call, texting or email consultations, easy renewal of prescriptions, home visits and wellness services such as annual checkups. However, concierge practices vary widely in their structure, payment conditions and range of medical services covered.

According to research conducted by Concierge Medicine Today, more than 12,000 physicians in the U.S. operate concierge practices. Most concierge practices bill patients’ insurance for regular services and charge an additional annual fee for round-the-clock access to doctors, extended appointments and other services, such as house calls.

Merritt Hawkins, a healthcare search firm, conducted the 2014 Survey of America’s Physicians and revealed that a huge percentage of physicians are planning to pursue the concierge model. Some of the key findings from the survey are:

  • Seven percent of physicians are already practicing concierge medicine.
  • More than 13 percent of physicians plan to transition to concierge medicine at some point in their careers.
  • Younger physicians, aged 45 or younger, are more likely to consider concierge practice.
  • Physicians who convert to concierge from traditional practice can retain about 25 percent of their existing patients.

However, concierge practice is not a substitute for health insurance. The annual fee or retainer, no matter how expensive, does not cover out-of-office visits to specialists, ER, hospitalization, major surgery or high-end diagnostic scans. On top of that, patients’ insurance or Medicare does not reimburse the annual fee, while some of the cost may be covered by the patients’ health savings accounts.

Concierge medicine comes in many variations. In some concierge practices, patients pay an annual fee in addition to office visit fees; in others, the annual fee is inclusive of all in-office care. There is another option known as the hybrid practice, where the doctor continues to see all patients but schedules a few hours each day for patients who pay an extra fee.

Is Concierge Practice the Right Decision for You and Your Patients?

Are you thinking of switching to concierge practice?

Physicians who switch to concierge practice say they do so because they were fed up with the assembly-line medicine and ever-rising overhead costs. The flat and reduced insurance reimbursements further fueled their decision to opt for a concierge practice. According to most physicians, the only way to keep afloat is to see many patients and spend less time with each one.

However, critics are of the opinion that if too many doctors choose concierge practice, we will be left with fewer doctors to go around, making it tough for patients to find a physician.

Critics have apprehensions about the impact of the concierge practice model on the health of patients. This is primarily because concierge practice works on the convenience side, and getting extensive consultation may not necessarily mean better care. Industry experts are of the view that concierge care may lead to overtreatment, which will not benefit the patient.

In case you are considering converting your traditional practice to a concierge care model, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Assess your existing patients: Is your current patient base looking for 24/7 Internet access? Will they prefer home visits? It is critical to understand which services will appeal to patients with this kind of arrangement. It is equally important to gauge which services and facilities patients will want to pay extra for. A patient survey will also help you evaluate patient loyalty. Are your patients emotionally attached to you and the practice? Will they follow you wherever you go and whichever new services you offer to them?
  • Create a package and fee structure: Your menu of services and fee structure will depend on your potential patients’ needs and their willingness to pay for premium-level care. You will need to put together a complete package — wellness package, weight management, exercise tips and comprehensive tests with everything from stress testing to a full body test. You may continue to see sick patients, but your focus will be toward preventive medicine. Later, based on your potential patient population, you can calculate what you need to charge to deliver excellent-quality services.
  • Create a schedule: Transitioning from a traditional practice to a concierge practice is labor-intensive. A realistic plan, complete with milestones and benchmarks, will help you keep things on track and maintain continuity.
  • Pay attention to legal issues: You will need to work with a reputed healthcare attorney who is familiar with the legal procedures and requirements for structuring a concierge-style practice.
  • Create promotional literature: In order to reach out to existing and potential patients, you will need to promote a new brand image that is consistent with the premium level of services you will be offering.
  • Have meetings with insurers: As a rule, health plans cannot stop physicians from opening concierge-style practices. Insurers will continue to cover contractually obligated office- and hospital-based services. Still, insurers are being careful. You must be prepared to share whatever promotional material you have and to make any reasonable changes.
  • Send an introductory letter to patients: Send a letter to your current patients explaining your transition from a traditional practice to concierge-style practice. This may be the hardest step in your transition. It is critical to have a well-crafted letter in order to recruit established patients to your new practice. Keep the letter short and crisp, and invite patients to contact you for further information. Moreover, even the most professionally written letter may not win over all hearts and minds. Some patients will unconditionally follow you, others will wish they could, and some patients will be angry.
  • Follow up with patients: After sending the introductory letter, you can invite patients for one-on-one meetings. These follow-up meetings will give you the chance to talk in greater detail about your concierge practice and the premium level of services you will be offering.

Is Concierge Practice the Right Decision for You and Your Patients?

Different flavors of concierge practice

Most concierge practices can be categorized as fee-for-service care (FFC), fee-for-service extra care (FFEC) or hybrid concierge.

In the FFC model, patients pay an upfront annual fee that covers most of the services offered by the physician. However, there is an additional patient charge for vaccinations, lab work, X-rays and other services that fall outside the annual fee structure. FFC is usually known as a no-frills, low-cost variation that includes fewer services in the fixed price.

In the FFEC model, the patient pays an annual fee, but the extra services that fall outside the retainer are billed to the patient’s insurance provider by the physician.

The third business model is called a hybrid concierge model. In this model, the patient gets two choices. First: Pay annual fee for specific services with insurance billing for services not part of the package. Second: Opt out of the enhanced services package so that the practice bills all services to the insurer.

However, in all three business models, the practice is responsible for determining what services are included in the package. The practice also decides whether or not to accept cash and/or credit card payment. In addition, the practice decides on the frequency of fee (monthly, quarterly or annually).

For most physicians, the key benefit of adding a concierge service to their practice is the ability to spend quality time with patients. Personalized service and longer visits usually result in increased patient satisfaction. According to a study conducted by the University of Michigan, School of Public Health, patients are happier with their medical care when they have extra time to spend with their doctors.

Some pros and cons!

Better patient care will be a clear result of having the extra time to spend with them. For doctors who treat chronic illnesses, concierge arrangement can vastly improve the quality of care and overall health of their patients.

Concierge practice can also help patients feel they are getting value for their money. After paying an up-front fee, unlimited access to their doctors with extensive consultations can feel very comforting, especially for patients with chronic health problems.

In a time where insurance reimbursements are decreasing, and costs are increasing, considering a retainer may be a good way to increase revenue, but the decision to switch from a traditional practice to a concierge practice comes with some drawbacks.

You may lose patients who do not want or cannot afford your payment structure or amount. Even if you are lucky enough to gain a significant number of patients after the transition, that initial loss could be upsetting for your practice. The loss of existing patients and the cost of attracting new patients are why most practices do not forsake the traditional payment system of commercial insurance and Medicare.

You should also consider the new demands that personalized services will place on your practice. Some concierge practices offer a broad range of services, including 24-hour access to the doctor, transportation and home visits. If your practice still has limited staff, you may not be able to meet every need without hiring outside help, and that may prove costly. You may choose to see fewer patients, but that may not be feasible considering your financial goals. Providing a flat fee for regular visits will not justify the cost for most patients, and therefore you will have to include additional services to make concierge practice worth it.

For some physicians, concierge practice is an excellent way to increase profits, save time, develop better relationships with their patients and provide quality care. For others, it may mean loss of profits and patients. If you are planning to make a switch from your traditional practice to concierge practice, it is important to consider its impact on your profitability and patient care.

Is Concierge Practice the Right Decision for You and Your Patients?

Medical Healthcare Marketing

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Staff Training Can Set Clear Boundaries in Handling Difficult Patients

Staff Training Can Set Clear Boundaries in Handling Difficult Patients

Angry, dissatisfied, defensive or difficult patients.

Managing difficult patients is a frequent challenge faced by healthcare providers. The hostile patient, the aggressive patient, the overly demanding patient, the excessively anxious patient, the know-it-all patient and the compulsive complainer patient. If you fail to handle these patients aptly, they may receive substandard care, increase waiting hours for other patients and bring a bad name to your practice. Moreover, if your staff has to deal with a multitude of such patients on a given day, it could lead to a massive surge in frustration levels and, sometimes, a total breakdown of effective patient care.

Understanding why some patients are difficult

Patients may become difficult to deal with for different reasons. One factor, which all patients have in common, is they are hospitalized due to some medical condition. In addition to feeling helpless and weak, a patient may be feeling stressed and depressed. These feelings can become extreme, making the patient lose control in certain situations. In some cases, patients also feel dejected and annoyed with the care they are receiving.

We must consider that patients have different reasons and issues they may be dealing with. For experienced medical practitioners, it is sometimes possible to predict which patients may become abusive or violent. For instance, Alzheimer’s patients tend to be irrational and restless. In those suffering from life-threatening diseases such as cancer or end-stage renal disease (ESRD), violent behavior or psychiatric disorders are common. Also, isolation and anxiety may result in anger and violence. Many patients also feel let down by their weak bodies, their dependency on other people, their illness or being placed in a medical facility. They are sick and depressed because of their illness. Usually, such patients have poor coping skills and a personality that is hard to get along with.

No doubt some patients are not easy to get along with. However, before labeling a patient as difficult, medical practitioners should analyze the situation and ask why a patient is pushing his or her buttons so quickly. After all, the doctor-patient relationship, like all relationships, is a two-way street.

How to deal with difficult patients?

When dealing with difficult patients, it is important to watch your verbal as well as body language in order to prevent the situation from worsening. Usually, difficult patients will attempt to force you into a heated argument so that you end up becoming verbally aggressive. You must calm yourself first and take stock of your emotions before addressing their concerns. A more safe approach would be to resort to positive language and defuse the situation. The goal is not to give the patient any opportunity to overreact.

Staff Training Can Set Clear Boundaries in Handling Difficult Patients

Also, your body can convey your emotions far better than your words can. It is important to maintain eye contact as it expresses honesty and openness. Be careful not to stare down at the patient, as this may seem aggressive. Also, try not to get too close to the patient as that can be perceived as invading their space and may instigate aggression.

Next time you see clenched fists, sweaty hands and controlled breathing, try to discover the source of the patient’s distress. Do not get pulled into a conflict. Instead, understand the potential cause, recognize the triggers and respond to the situation appropriately.

Dealing with angry patients

A patient who is angry may simply be frightened or reacting to his or her illness or surroundings. It is important for a medical practitioner to step back from the angry patient. If the patient is frightened, you will have to approach him or her differently than if they are angry over something, such as a long wait or inconvenient appointment timing. The safest course of action is to communicate the patient and try to assess their feelings. Use empathetic statements such as, “I can understand what you are feeling,” and try to resolve the issues with them.

Staff Training Can Set Clear Boundaries in Handling Difficult Patients

Dealing with manipulative patients

Manipulative patients threaten, cry or throw tantrums in an attempt to seek attention or get their way. A simple strategy for dealing with this kind of patients is to stay level-headed and do not engage in a heated argument with them. These patients are stuck in their beliefs and will not budge from their version of events. A manipulative patient will try all tactics to convince you to give them special treatment or do what they demand. It is critical that you must calmly stabilize your feelings when dealing with manipulative patients and not let emotions overpower your sense of judgment.

Dealing with aggressive patients

According to research, nearly every medical staff has experienced a patient shouting and behaving disrespectfully with them. Sometimes, those verbal spats escalate into aggression with the patient throwing things at you, spitting at you or trying to attack you. While your staff can deal with aggressive patients by staying calm and remembering basic professional rules, you should bear in mind that such aggressive behavior is sure to affect your staff on the emotional level. When faced with an aggressive patient, it is important to step back, literally and figuratively. This will allow you to evaluate the potential cause of their aggressiveness and help you understand where they are coming from.

Dealing with grieving patients

In order to understand the effect of grief on some patients’ health, you will have to familiarize yourself with the normal stages of grief. You may have to look around for vegetative signs of pain and depression that prevent a patient from recovering from grief. You can help grieving patients by validating their emotional state, making them understand that grief is a process that takes a different amount of time for different people. You may need to make an effort to open communication channels, avoid medication that suppresses emotions and prevent significant lifestyle changes too early in the process.

The toll of aggression and violence on medical staff

Undoubtedly, nursing is a stressful job. Nurses have to worry about patients, complete their documentation and make sure they are following doctor’s instructions when a patient needs them. Adding defense against difficult and aggressive patients to a nurse’s full plate will be very unjustified. Stressing about a patient who may yell at you or hit you can make nursing seem like one of the toughest jobs under the sun. Most nurses begin to feel that they have failed professionally and personally when a patient disrespects them. While this is not a reflection of their nursing skills, it may be a breaking point for some nurses.

In these situations, it is critical to confide in a trusted supervisor and consider using the employee health services provided by most facilities. Your medical staff’s fear of an aggressive or manipulative patient can impact the way they care for other patients. This will not be fair to your staff or the other patients. You must educate and inform your medical staff to seek help to sort through their feelings when they encounter difficult patients on a regular basis.

Staff Training Can Set Clear Boundaries in Handling Difficult Patients

Tips for handling difficult patients

It is understandable that some patients lose control of their emotions because of overwhelming pain or when they are experiencing illness-related stress and anxiety. However, all these reasons will not make it easy for your medical staff. These aggressive and angry patients will test the compassion, patience and kindness of your medical staff.

Here are six effective tips for dealing with difficult patients that can help your staff defuse the situation before it spirals out of control:

1. Stay calm: Just knowing that the aggressive behavior is not because of you is the way to go. While it is easy to think a patient is upset because of something you have done, that is almost never the case. You should continue to do your job and try not to let the negativity get in your head.

2. Be empathetic: One of the most effective ways to calm an angry patient is by being empathetic. You must remind yourself that it is not easy to be battling a disease in the hospital and away from loved ones. Rather than being indifferent, try to be concerned about your patients’ well-being and treat them with respect. Show them that you care about them and that they are important to you.

3. Initiate a conversation: Try to engage the patient in a conversation. Mostly, they just want to be heard. You can address the patient by his or her first name, maintain eye contact and be empathetic. Let the patient trust that you understand his or her feelings, and practice active listening.

4. Look for the potential causes: Most patients are dealing with severe medical conditions and side effects from medications that can impact their mood and make them short-tempered. You can try to improve a patient’s bad mood and lift his or her spirits by identifying the potential cause of their bad behavior.

5. Avoid arguments: While you are entitled to express your opinion, you must do so respectfully. Instead of justifying why they are not getting the attention or care they want, simply apologize and reassure the patient that you will take care of their needs.

6. Set boundaries: One of the best approaches is to set limits for difficult patients who make unreasonable demands. Make such patients understand you will keep a check on their needs and requirements, and then follow through. You may also need to set boundaries to protect yourself.

Provide mandatory staff training for dealing with distressing situations

Staff training can help you prevent and manage violence and equip employees with necessary skills to diffuse potential incidents. Ideally, training should be mandatory for all staff, including cleaners, front office and temporary staff.

Every member of your medical team is at risk of verbal abuse and threat for varying reasons. Therefore, your employees should receive mandatory training sessions to help them deal with difficult patients. Imparting such training to your staff will not only improve their coping skills but may even protect them from any potential harm.

At Practice Builders, we custom-design staff training programs to meet your practice’s needs. These training sessions are designed to assess your current problems, suggest and implement improvements and create a culture of safety first. All training can be imparted individually or as a package. During our consultation, we can help you choose which training topics are best-suited for your needs.

Our evaluators can call and visit your practice to observe current systems, and a customized training program will be designed around your specific needs. Now that you have a direction for your staff training, be sure to call Practice Builders to discuss the training needs of your practice.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

20 Most Effective Doctor Marketing Tips for Attracting New Patients and Growing Your Practice

20 Most Effective Doctor Marketing Tips for Attracting New Patients and Growing Your Practice

Effective marketing is powerful. Successful medical practices understand the value of having an integrated marketing strategy that includes traditional and online marketing to reach, attract and retain patients. Having an effective strategy and knowing your target audience is imperative for the success of your medical practice in 2017.

Many medical practitioners believe that medical practices do not need a marketing strategy because everyone needs a doctor. While this is correct, medical practices still need to advertise because when people need a doctor, they will not contact a medical practice that they do not even know exists. Also, there is more competition than ever in the medical community. Therefore, it is critical for every medical practice to have an effective marketing strategy. In the absence of a marketing strategy, a medical practice will not have a consistent flow of patients to keep the practice running. Keeping this in mind, here are a few doctor marketing tips that are essential to the success of your medical practice:

  • Focus on enhancing the patient experience: One of the best ways to stand out in a crowded healthcare marketplace is to provide an excellent patient experience. An unmatched patient experience is a way to compete in 2017. Unfortunately, most practices do not have a patient experience strategy that tracks and improves all of the touch points of a patient’s journey. It is essential to understand what your patients need in order to build a successful patient experience strategy.
  • Provide quality content on your website: In 2017, it will become even more critical for medical practices to invest in SEO tactics. Therefore, quality content should be a part of your SEO plan. You can develop content to inform patients about your practice, specialty and work hours. Quality content plays a significant role in search engine ranking. It is imperative to create content keeping patients in mind. Search engines are intelligent enough to gauge the relevance and quality of your content. However, if you are creating well-written content with relevant information, search engines will reward you with better rankings.
  • Upgrade to a mobile-friendly website: According to a Google survey, nearly 61 percent of visitors will leave a website if it is not mobile-friendly. It is important to make your website stick to responsive design principles. Not only will that make it comfortable for potential patients to use your practice website, but it will also offer SEO benefits as Google favors responsive websites over standard websites.
  • Use Google for attracting local patients: A lot of potential patients are searching Google to find local medical practices. Make sure when potential patients search for medical practices in your area, they find your website on the first page of the search engine results. You must encourage your patients to go to your Google Places listing and leave a review of your practice after their appointment. Once you receive a high number of positive reviews, your practice will start showing in the local search results on Google, which will help you attract local patients to your practice.
  • Do not forget social media marketing: Social media has become one of the most influential marketing tools for medical practices, but you must utilize it properly to reap maximum benefits. Social media is certain to play a vital role in how medical practices market themselves in 2017. You must select your social media platforms wisely and make sure to market your practice the right way. Having a widespread presence on social media is a great way to build a brand following, which may drive new patients to your practice.
  • Network with other physicians: In order to grow, specialty practices need a referral base. Getting a new patient as a referral from another doctor requires a relationship-building technique. You must identify which doctors can recommend your practice to their patients and then develop a strategy to achieve those goals. You must focus on building relationships with other physicians by joining local medical associations and attending relevant seminars and functions.
  • Convey your message through blogging: Blogging is a proven way to reach, retain and engage your patients. If done right, blogging can take your marketing strategy to a new level. However, as a busy medical practitioner, you may need to overcome a few barriers in order to be a successful blogger. Keep the tone of your blog casual, and it should not be too lengthy.
  • Emphasize your skills and specialty: This is even more important if your practice is located in a competitive area. When a patient is searching for a new medical practitioner, he or she wants as much information as possible to be able to make an informed decision. For instance, if there are four dentists in your area, but your practice is the only one that offers a certain procedure, this is something you should emphasize on your website and in other marketing efforts.
  • Get listed on Google My Business: It is important fo you to get listed on Google My Business as it is an ideal platform for promoting a brick-and-mortar medical practice. Once you have created and claimed your business listing, you must ensure that all of your information is consistent and accurate across various online directories and citations. It is also important to sign up on third-party review sites such as Healthgrades, Vitals, ZocDoc, RateMDs and many more.
  • Follow up with your patients: Medical marketing is a tricky business. The best way for a medical practice to market itself is by taking care of its patients. If done properly, you will be rewarded with positive word-of-mouth, and that is the best possible promotion any medical practice can have. Create an extensive follow-up program. Send regular emails advising your patients to follow instructions after their last visit and reminding them of upcoming appointments.

Over to you

While it is important to have a successful marketing campaign in place, it all boils down to the quality of patient experience you provide. Your patients will notice it, appreciate it and reward you by sticking around and referring your practice to their family and friends. Incorporate these doctor marketing tips into your strategy, and you will be welcoming patients through your practice doors in no time.

If you need any help with your doctor marketing strategy, we are here to help. Contact Practice Builders for a free consultation today.

Medical Healthcare Marketing