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Tag Archives: Practice

How to Create a Profitable Business Plan for Your Healthcare Practice

How to Create a Profitable Business Plan for Your Healthcare Practice

Marketing is crucial for any industry, and healthcare industry is no exception. Whether you are a big hospital or private practice, creating and implementing an effective marketing plan will help to attract new patients, retain the existing ones and maintain relationships with your staff and patients. An effective marketing strategy will play an integral role in increasing revenue, building patient trust, improving online reputation and expanding your reach.

A marketing plan can help you define and identify the target audience and key prospects. It can also assist in evaluating and comparing your practice data against your industry. Clearly, a business plan is necessary, so does your practice have one? Here are some more benefits of creating a strategic plan for your medical practice:

1. A business plan provides clear direction to your marketing initiatives, preventing random activities that may work against each other.

2. The process of developing a strategic plan offers an opportunity for everybody involved to collaborate in shaping the future of the practice. Active participation of all the stakeholders ensures the success of projects and priorities.

3. A strategic plan helps the physician set marketing goals and priorities for the medical practice.

4. Clarity of aims and objectives can improve the quality of patient care.

Strategic business planning offers great long-term value. After the initial planning is done, a practice can use it as the benchmark for measuring progress and monitoring areas of improvement.

The process for preparing a strategic business plan is not clear-cut, but it is one of the most important things you should do for the strategic growth of your practice. A well-defined marketing plan will outline how you will retain existing patients and attract new patients, retain staff and communicate your message in the most efficient manner.

You do not need to hire expensive consultants to create a marketing plan for your healthcare practice. All that you need is the willingness to put in time and effort. An ideal marketing plan should address every aspect related to promoting your practice, and to effectively plan, you must do some research.

Identify your target audience

The first step in any business plan is to figure out who is going to seek your service. If you have a specialty practice, you probably know the answer. According to industry experts, your marketing efforts will be effective only if they are targeted. So to identify your potential patients, start by defining the common characteristics of your current patients. Always remember, your marketing plan is all about reaching your target audience and adjusting your approach to fit their preferences. Beyond demographics, try to learn the reasons why your potential patients will come to your practice, know your competition and understand your competitors’ approach in reaching the target audience. Examine how your competitors market their practice and then compare their approach, services and marketing strategies with yours. You must also determine your unique selling proposition and understand what makes you different from your competition.

Marketing is all about keeping up-to-date. So make sure while doing your research, you stay updated on current affairs. The idea is to keep up-to-date with financial, political and marketing trends that influence the medical community so you can create an effective business plan that responds to changing market conditions.

Time for some brainstorming sessions

After you have identified your potential market and patients, you will need to categorize and address critical operational questions about your medical practice. You may need to set up brainstorming sessions with people you trust, including family, friends, team members or other professionals. During these sessions, try to find answers to these basic but critical questions:

Question: Which marketing platforms will make be most suitable for promoting your services?

Pro tip: You will need to think regarding how to present or sell your services. For instance, consider offering packages that are generic in nature and offer value for money.

Question: What is the best time and frequency of marketing your service?

Pro tip: Too much promotion can create a negative brand image in the minds of potential patients. Too much advertising tends to make patients suspicious. So depending on your target audience, determine the best time for promoting your practice.

Question: What are you trying to achieve from your business plan? How do you plan to measure these goals?

Pro tip: According to experts, your marketing plan should include basic tasks that have short-term goals so that you do not end up compromising on the patient experience. You can consider using big data to evaluate and measure results and their impact on ROI.

Penning the business plan

Now that you have completed the groundwork, it is time to put all your facts and figures into words. Here are some basic steps for creating a business plan for your medical practice:

1. Define your mission and vision: This is where you need to determine your goals. You have to understand where you want your practice to be in five to seven years. You will need to prepare a list of all the marketing techniques and tactics and determine what options will work best for your practice. Some of the effective marketing tactics are networking, direct marketing, print advertising, training sessions, media, open houses, social media, blogs, third-party websites and much more.

2. Identify your team: In order to build support and generate enthusiasm, you should determine the outgoing personalities in your organization. Find people who will help support your marketing efforts by hosting open houses, patient training sessions, interviews and other public relations initiatives.

3. Market segmentation: Consider potential patients think outside the box. Look within your organization first – you may find some of your best customers and marketers there. You must understand where your patients come from and dive deeper into your business model. Is your practice mainly run by physician referrals, or do patients refer directly? You need to create an extensive list of potential patients and categorize them.

4. Create patient personas: Patient personas are representations of your ideal patients. You must create patient personas based on your research and reflect on their needs and issues. For instance, if one of your buyer personas is a diabetic, his or her needs will be different from a flu patient.

5. SWOT analysis: SWOT matrix is another important component of the business plan. You can use this analysis to assess your practice’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. This study will help you understand your market situation better and discover growth opportunities. For a successful SWOT analysis, you must be specific, realistic, compare different situations and keep your business plans and goals updated.

6. Prepare a budget: Now that you have all the market information you need and have established the best way to reach your potential patients, focus on your budget to support your marketing campaign. To begin with, it is advisable to stick with the 80/20 rule. According to this rule, 80 percent of your business volume will often come from 20 percent of your patients.

7. Share your vision: The first step is to make sure the plan is received and understood by your organization’s leadership. Next, make sure your plan becomes a part of the organizational culture. You must encourage employees to come up with ideas that will support your idea. Always share your plans with physicians, volunteers, employees, board members and top leadership.

8. Plan the rollout: To begin with, introduce your campaign internally. Your organization’s leadership and staff are often your best support. If they get the message, your marketing efforts will be successful.

9. Measure and evaluate: You should regularly track new patients, physician referrals, leads, website hits and procedure volumes in order to assess the success of your business plan.

Don’t forget the 7Ps

Even the most insightful services, supported by the best business plan, will not survive on the market if they are unable to reach potential patients. That is why practices need to invest in strategies that will bridge the gap between them and the target audience. For your marketing initiatives to be successful, you must address the 7Ps in order to evaluate and measure your business activities. These seven Ps are product, price, promotion, place, packaging, positioning and people. These 7Ps will help you review and define key issues that impact your marketing activities.

1. Product: When was the last time you took an unbiased look at your products, service, facility or value proposition? Do your products meet the needs of the patients? Do your products and services deliver value? Is your medical practice properly presented? The ‘product’ for your healthcare practice is the happiness and satisfaction of your patients, which is intangible and cannot be quantified. The only way is to know that customers receive value and comfort by way of your medical practice.

2. People: Healthcare is all about people – your current patients, potential patients, staff and management – everyone delivers or receives a service plays a significant part in the product category. Your patients will evaluate the service and satisfaction based on assumptions and interactions. Usually, patients do not have much insight to your medical skills, but they will know if they are pleased based on how you deal with them. Your reputation and your image are not yours alone – it is teamwork.

3. Price: It is the amount people pay in exchange for the product received. Therefore, the price must be competitive, enough to generate profit, but may vary when bundled with promotional offers. Sometimes, price is the biggest factor. Therefore, as a practice owner, you must take a serious look at those areas where there is flexibility and be open to adjusting and reducing prices to meet your patients’ needs.

4. Promotion: This refers to all the direct and indirect ways of communicating about your product to your people or potential patients. This may include personal and mass interaction. In all instances, promotion should always be carried out in a professional manner. The objective of promoting your practice is to examine how, when, what and where you can offer your service to your target audience.

5. Place: This points to presenting your products or services to your target audience in the right place and at the right time. Needless to say, the ‘place’ will be your office where the product will meet the user. However, in healthcare, a change in location can impact the user’s decision to buy.

6. Packaging: Take an unbiased look at the appearance of your office, front office, waiting area, brochures and website and the appearance of your medical staff. You might be surprised to see what patients are observing when they walk through your front door.

7. Positioning: This refers to the way your brand, products or service are perceived by your target customers. If you could get the opportunity to create the ideal impression in the minds of your patients, what would you want it to be?

For successfully growing their practice and attracting new patients, many practices are working with medical marketing agencies. As a medical marketing company, Practice Builders knows what is suitable for different medical specialties. We can introduce you to the best marketing tactics that will draw new patients to your practice. Moreover, we know how to develop effective business plans that will lead to significant growth in your medical practice. To find out more, contact us today.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

A Complete Guide to Patient Retention at Your Medical Practice

A Complete Guide to Patient Retention at Your Medical Practice

There is a lot of information available about how to attract new patients to your medical practice, but not much thought is given to patient retention. What most medical professionals do not seem to realize is that retaining a patient requires less time and money than acquiring a new one.

In a recent patient case study, increasing the retention rate from 86 percent to 89 percent lead to over $ 150,000 in revenue. Also, retaining an existing patient is five times more cost-effective than to acquire a new one; yet only 15 percent of medical practices focus on patient retention.

Whether you have recently set up your practice or have a successful 20-year career, patient retention will always be critical to your success. As a medical professional, have you ever wondered why patients do not return to some practices? What do patients expect? When some of the patients were asked reasons for their dissatisfaction, this is what they reported:

1. Feeling of being neglected or left out

2. Poor communication or misinformation

3. Feeling rushed

4. Lack of description for tests and procedures

The real issue is: Medical practitioners do not have enough time to ensure patients’ needs are met. As a result, medical practices are always facing situations where patients drop out of treatments before their completion. Here are four main components of patient retention, which if implemented correctly, will help your practice:

1. Educate: Make sure you educate your patients on all the treatments you offer. Create a brochure to leave with your patients and tell them the URL to your website. Always keep your website and printed literature updated. You can play informational videos about your practice and services in your waiting area for your patients to watch.

2. Ask: You can ask your patients about their experience with your practice, and to return to your practice for any further needs. Your patients must know that you value them and the trust they have in you. You can request your loyal patients to recommend your practice to their friends and families.

3. Measure: In case the patient leaves your practice despite all efforts, you must learn the reasons behind this decision. Do not let such incidents go unnoticed or it will hurt your reputation and business. It is critical for you to measure patient satisfaction. However, measuring satisfaction is one thing, but implementing changes based on patient feedback is what will eventually matter.

4. Communicate: Always look for innovative and efficient ways to communicate with your patients while they are at your office. Keep communication lines open at all times. You can use patients’ email ids for sending out satisfaction surveys, monthly newsletters, discount coupons, etc. For a more personalized touch, you can call your patient after a procedure to check if they are recovering well. These gestures will make a pleasing impact on the way a patient perceives your practice. According to published reports, email marketing is the most effective tactic for patient retention, yet most medical practices lack an automated platform for providing the right information to the right patient at the right time.

So, do you have any strategies in place for retaining patients? Not every suggestion or plan that you read online will be tailored for your medical practice. Standard methods such as an active referral system, online visibility, SEO tactics, supportive staff and your commitment will ensure your success at retaining patients. Here are some of the basic, but effective, patient retention strategies to consider:

1. Inform patients about their next appointment: Make sure your patients are told the date and time of their next appointment and encouraged to return. While this may not seem vital, it is one of the most common causes of patients not coming back for further treatment. When your patients come for their first appointment, show them a personalized calendar with a treatment schedule that is tailored just for them. A customized calendar will convince your patients of your commitment and the importance of their next visit. Before they leave your office, your staff should give them a schedule that shows their next appointment date. You must train your employees to emphasize the next appointment when the patients are leaving your office.

2. Make the appointment process easy: Never play hard to get, especially for your patients. If your patients are having a difficult time scheduling an appointment, they will be upset before they even come to your office, or they may choose a competitor over you. Ideally, it should not take more than a couple of minutes for your patients to schedule their appointment on your calendar.

3. Send appointment reminders: Your patients may forget or miss their scheduled appointments. It is important to ensure that they are regularly informed of upcoming appointments to make sure they do not compromise their health. You can consider automating your appointment reminders via emails and texts. In some practices, automated appointment reminders have reduced ‘no-shows’ by more than half.

4. Follow up after the appointment: After the patient leaves your office, make sure to send an email or call them to ensure they are following all the instructions. It is a good idea to show them you are interested in their well-being and recovery. You can also consider keeping patients up-to-date on the progress of their treatment.

5. Gather patient information: Be sure to collect key data points, such as patient’s name, birthday, contact number and email, from every patient. There still are some practices that don’t collect and save this information. This data helps in locking necessary patient retention tools. Using patient contact numbers and email, you can easily automate appointment reminders, important updates, birthday wishes and more.

6. Keep the patients updated: You can send out newsletters carrying practice updates to your patients. In the newsletters, you can also include a call to action to refer someone or schedule an appointment. Newsletters can also be used to remind patients of all of your service lines and treatments. Be sure to include website and social media links.

7. Strong referral system: Your first step should be to look at the people in your practice, as they are your cheerleaders. You can get referrals from patients, staff members and other professionals. To build a strong referral system, consider setting up a team of professionals and loyal patients who will act as your brand ambassadors.

8. Focus on each patient: Be respectful and tolerant while listening to patients’ concerns and myths about their illness. Your patients will only feel connected to you if you are listening to their worries. During an appointment, ask about their lifestyle, habits, sleep patterns, etc. Sometimes patients do not realize what may be affecting their health and how to fix it. As you guide them through the rough spots, they become more confident and encouraged.

9. Send out satisfaction surveys: Sending satisfaction surveys to your patients will help you to see whether or not your treatment is having a positive impact on their well-being. Through these surveys, you patients may express their positive and negative experiences. Such surveys give you the opportunity to re-examine your strategy and change the aspects that aren’t yielding positive results. According to the Medical Group Management Association, nearly 80 percent of “better-performing” practices are using patient satisfaction surveys.

10. Simplify billing process: Simplifying the payment process is another way to increase patient retention. This is because patients will be more likely to come back to your practice if the billing process is transparent and straightforward. You do not have to overhaul the entire process. To begin with, you can ensure bills are written in clear and easy-to-understand language, minimize medical jargon, outline multiple payment options, have easy-to-locate contact information and provide maximum transparency in itemized statements.

11. Gift card promotions: You can increase patient retention by introducing gift card promotions. These initiatives will act as an incentive for your patients to make appointments at your practice. Each month, you should randomly give away a few gift cards to patients who booked appointments with you.

12. Build personal relationships: You should try to develop and maintain positive relationships with your patients. Simple gestures, such as ensuring that your staff is courteous, patients were offered water when they arrived at your practice, go a long way in building a lifelong bond. You should train your employees to walk each patient through their appointment with helpful instructions, preparing for a lab test or checking out.

13. Develop a marketing campaign: Satisfying and retaining patients is a crucial part of a successful marketing program. You can start by contributing to a blog, posting on social media and sending emails to your patients informing them about appointments, general health tips, surveys, industry news, testing results and much more. If the patient is not a regular one at your practice, your social media posts will play a critical role in maintaining a connection.

14. Get your systems up-to-date: It is advisable to invest in the right tools and to run your practice. With the increasing popularity of electronic medical record software, you should have a fully automated system for maintaining customer data, scheduling appointments, sending reminders, improving billing processes and other information management.

15. Promote patient engagement: Patients are important stakeholders in their healthcare and can provide valuable input for improving the quality of your service. Therefore, you must encourage them to make choices about their treatment plans and keep them informed of the latest healthcare options.

16. Be polite: Your staff should be trained to interact politely and professionally with patients. You must take some time to listen to how they answer patients’ questions and if they are courteous enough to help patients. The behavior of your staff will significantly impact your patient retention rate.

17. Educate patients: Educated and informed patients are usually the most satisfied ones. If your patients are happy with the quality of your service, they will return to complete their treatment. Many patients derive satisfaction from learning about their illness. They want you to tell them all you know about their illness and the further course of action.

18. Adopt flexible working hours: To attract more patients to your practice, you may have to make a few adjustments to your work schedule. If you listen to the reasons why your patients miss their follow-up appointments, you will know that the biggest reason is their inability to arrive at your office at the set time for their treatment.

19. Manage your reputation: Reputation marketing produces steady results, whether online or offline. The majority of patients who search online for local physicians are more likely to see a directory review rather than your practice website. Also, most patients who want to come to your office will trust online reviews about your practice more than a referral from a satisfied patient. Therefore, promoting your reputation will make the community see you as a trusted medical practitioner.

20. Be empathetic: This is a very effective way to improve patient retention. Try to put yourself in your patient’s shoes and think like one, from the first contact on the phone until the patient leaves your office after treatment. During this role-playing exercise, be as critical and as observant as possible. Your role playing should cover welcome greetings from your front desk, experiences in the waiting room, interactions in the exam room and billing department.

21. Motivate your staff: The secret behind a winning team is a mix of people working hard toward one common goal. Patient retention has a lot to do with your staff and their attitude. When hiring, pay attention to the best combination of polite, efficient, professional, pleasant and optimistic staff.

22. Provide unmatched customer care: You must strive to go above and beyond to enhance the patient experience. Always use patient’s first name in all communications, take steps to lessen boredom in the waiting room, and train your staff to be warm and friendly – these are small gestures that will boost your patient retention efforts.

23. Tactfully handle upset patients: When you notice an angry patient at your office, try to be calm, polite and empathetic. It might be a good idea to ask how their day is going and if there is you can do to make them feel better. A little sympathy can make someone’s day.

24. Handle negative reviews calmly: Even the best medical practices receive negative feedback. If your practice receives negative feedback, it is best to handle it promptly and professionally. Thank the reviewer for the feedback and address their concerns. Even if you cannot resolve the issue, make them feel heard and apologize for their unpleasant experience at your office.

25. Don’t lose heart: Even if a long-time patient leaves your practice, don’t despair. The first step is to contact the patient and find out the reasons they left. Try to address and resolve their concerns, if possible. However, if the issues are not fixable, thank them for the input, make the suggested changes, and let them know. By maintaining a constant touch, they may eventually come back to you.

Comfort leads to satisfaction, and patient satisfaction leads to retention. Learn how Practice Builders can help your practice improve patient satisfaction and retention. We have the knowledge and expertise you need to take patient retention to the next level. Contact us to learn more about our patient retention strategies.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Breathe life into your medical practice website

A lot of doctors only see their website as a digital business card to explain what they specialize in and where they’re located.

 

Done right, your website funnels patients into your office and establishes you as a thought leader.

 

Here are nine elements to develop on your website to attract new patients and grow your business:

 

1. Content

Your website has the potential to be your best salesperson and a marketing machine. It should be built strategically, with clear goals in mind that focus on:

  • Increasing patient volume
  • Establishing you as a medical authority
  • Educating your patients
  • Building trust with your prospects
  • Providing better quality of care

 

2. Unique value proposition (UVP)

One of the most important things your website should communicate is your UVP. The way you arrive at your UVP is by establishing your niche—knowing which treatments you excel at and which patients you help better than any other doctor. Once you’ve identified these core strengths, you can hone your website’s messaging to reflect this unique positioning.

 

Here’s an example from the Southern California Reproductive Center, a clinic that specializes in in-vitro fertilization.

Thought leadership on a medical website

 

3. Focus on the user

People land on your site looking for solutions or to learn more about why you’re a better option than your competitors. You need to make it as easy as possible for them to find and consume the information they need.

 

Common impediments to avoid include:

  • Duplicate content. Don’t recycle the same content across all of your sites without adding any unique value other than swapping out the logo and contact information.
  • Generic content. In an industry that revolves around personal treatment, your content needs to educate, engage and build trust among your prospects.
  • Information overload. Too many options overwhelm your visitors and make your calls to action impossible to find. Clarity and simplicity are key. Keep it simple and the message will be that much more helpful.
  • Bad writing. Your website content needs to be written for the user. Communicate benefits. Don’t talk down to your readers or go over their heads with technical or medical jargon. Find a way to communicate urgency when necessary without fear-mongering.

 

4. Offer more than a “contact us” or a “consultation request” button

Many of your website visitors are not ready to make a decision. They are researching options and evaluating you as a possible candidate to help them.

 

Turn more of those anonymous visits into leads by giving visitors something of value in exchange for their contact info:

 

  • Guides explaining complex procedures for new patients
  • E-books detailing treatment options and protocols
  • HIPAA-compliant case studies or patient success stories
  • Q&A-style webinars to answer common questions

 

This free e-book from HeartValveSurgery.com is an effective way of converting patients who may need some more information before committing to a surgical procedure.

 

medical ebook landing page

 

5. Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is about more than using the right keywords. There are “on-page” and “off-page” components that you have to get right:

 

On-page

  • Make sure all content is indexable, including images, videos and plugins
  • Make sure your link structure is crawlable
  • Use friendly URL structures
  • Optimize pages, title tags and meta-descriptions
  • Avoid duplicate content

 

Off-page

  • Build quality links
  • Share and promote your content
  • Optimize for local and mobile search (see below)

 

6. Optimizing for mobile

Approximately 58 percent of mobile users search for local businesses on their smartphone daily; 89 percent search weekly, and 70 percent of mobile searches result in action being taken within an hour.

 

Mobile optimization factors that promote a positive user experience include:

  • Larger, legible fonts
  • Fast load speed
  • Bullet lists and pared-down text
  • Simpler navigation and fewer internal links
  • Fewer images

 

Make sure you have a responsive website that is easy to read, navigate and interact with, like this one from the Migraine Relief Center:

 

migraine relief center mobile responsive website

 

7. Optimizing for local search

Like mobile, local search has a unique set of ranking factors that you should be aware of and optimize for. Local search involves any keyword that is geographically qualified such as, infertility treatment in Santa Barbara.

 

Ranking well for local searches hinges on the following:

  • Optimizing the location page(s) on your website (especially important for practices with multiple locations)
  • Links back to your site from other trusted local websites
  • The accuracy, volume and consistency of your practice’s business listings across select directories on the web

 

Read a more in-depth study on local ranking factors here.

 

8. Patient testimonials

In-depth “patient success stories” can have a huge impact on converting on-the-fence prospects into patients.

 

The La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Center features several patient testimonials on their website. Each patient offers insights into:

  • Why they chose to get surgery

  • How they felt before and after their procedures

  • Other aspects of their experience

 

patient testimonials medical website

 

9. Not blogging strategically

Strategic blogging is centered around an in-depth understanding of your ideal patients and what they’re searching for online.

 

Your blog should:

  • Develop “ideal patient” profiles
  • Determine the challenges they have and the questions they’re asking
  • Provide information regarding keywords used to search for answers

 

The Migraine Relief Center struck gold with their post on daith piercings for migraine relief that saw over 115,000 views from organic searches alone.

 

daith piercing migraine relief medical website

Remember, your website is your best salesperson and a marketing machine. Make sure it’s working to help build your practice and drive patients to you.

 

Shareef Defrawi is president and founder of Bonafide. The original version of this article appeared on his blog.

HealthCareCommunication.com

Top 25 Ways to Attract More Patients to Your Medical Practice

Top 25 Ways to Attract More Patients to Your Medical Practice

Marketing is essential to the success of any business, and medical practices are no exception. For a medical practice to grow, a doctor should see 30 to 50 new patients every month. Moreover, to attract new patients, a practice must offer competitive services at reasonable pricing. Retaining existing patients also demands hard work and dedication.

While it is important to maintain a relationship with your existing patients, it is equally important to grow your practice and add new patients. Of course, there are the usual ways to achieve this, including marketing techniques and referral programs, but there is much more you can do. Here are some proven ways to help you grow your practice and add new patients:

1. Know your target audience: Before you reach out to potential patients, you need to understand your current patients. Take a look at your office records and observe the average age, gender, profession and location of your existing patients. This data will help you find the best marketing techniques to promote your practice and attract new patients.

2. Train your team: Your team will get to interact with your patients before they meet you. So train your staff to present a great first impression and address patients’ questions regarding your practice. Your staff should not only know about the services you provide but also offer specific details such as pricing, equipment used during procedures, what to expect during a consult, etc.

3. Follow up with patients: Most of the practices spend about 90 percent of their resources to attract new patients. However, retaining existing patients is one of the easiest and cost-effective ways to grow your practice. Also, nurturing relationships with existing patients will increase referrals.

4. Build a mobile-responsive website: Having a modern and easy-to-use website is critical for the growth of your practice and for attracting new patients. Make sure your website is responsive and works equally well on mobile devices. The objective of your practice website is to educate your potential patients so they can make an informed decision and call your clinic for an appointment. Creating a relevant and informational website is probably the most important marketing tool at your disposal.

5. Start a blog: Blogging adds fresh content to your site and also helps with SEO. Consistently posting relevant and original content on your blog shows that you know your practice and are happy to keep your patients informed. You may provide wellness tips, announce local events and share updates about your practice. You can promote the blog using Twitter and use it to engage with existing and potential patients.

6. Host contests: Contents can be an excellent way to get your target audience to know about your practice. Offering prizes and giveaways in exchange for spreading the word about your practice may bring you plenty of leads.

7. Encourage online reviews: Reviews are one of the most efficient ways for attracting new patients and growing your practice. Encourage your patients to share their feedback in an online review. You can do this by sending a follow-up email thanking your patients for their visit and encouraging them to review you online. You can offer discounts or free services to motivate patients for posting online reviews for your practice. With the patient’s permission, you can also make their reviews public by sharing them on your practice website. It will not only help in maintaining patient relationships but will also get your name out there.

8. Connect with the community: Connecting with your community will give you an opportunity to educate people and expand the list of potential patients. You can host a seminar for kids on how to care for their health and ensure hygiene. Parents will not only appreciate this but will also consult you when they need a doctor.

9. Stay active on social media: When your current patients “like” or “share” your content on social media, their entire social circle sees it. That can direct user traffic to your page and may help generate leads. The trick is to share informational content that is relevant to your target users so that more and more people feel motivated to share your content.

10. Monitor your online presence: If your practice has some negative reviews, look for the most common reasons for the complaints. If the review sites allow, make sure you respond to both positive and negative feedback to show that you care. The more positive feedback you can collect, the more calls you’ll get from potential patients.

11. Embrace technological advances: Young patients are keen on having a technologically connected healthcare experience, and you can easily achieve it through cost-effective technical updates. For instance, instead of calling your clinic, patients should be able to download their lab results from your portal. If patients are satisfied with the convenience offered by your clinic, they’ll be more likely to refer other people to your practice.

12. Be responsive: Always staff yourself adequately if you notice an increase in the number of patients. Recruit extra staff to expand your existing services and, if possible, add new services to meet the needs of new patients. You can promote the new services strategically to the target audience. By meeting local demands in a strategic and timely manner, you can increase the number of patients and grow your practice.

13. Deliver quality service: There is no way your patients will refer your practice to others if they aren’t satisfied with your attitude and services. You have to show real interest in your patients. Your manners and the look and feel of your clinic are extremely important. You must be able to communicate well with your patients and make your presence positive and uplifting.

14. Be flexible: Your office hours and appointment schedule must suit that of your patients. If your patients need early morning appointments, lunchtime or evening hours won’t work for them. You have to make yourself available at their convenience.

15. Ask for references: Patients usually don’t refer unless you ask. The simplest way to ask for references is to inform your existing patients that you have room for new patients or that you are adding new services. Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations and don’t forget to thank them for referrals.

16. Become a referrer: Fostering relationships with other doctors is a two-way street. Other doctors will be interested in referring patients to you if you’ve been referring patients their way. It is always best for the patient to refer them to the best-in-class doctors.

17. Send email reminders: Emails are one of the best ways to remind patients to come by for scheduled checkups. You can schedule follow-up emails after each appointment to ensure your patients never miss their checkups. You can also stay in touch with your regular patients throughout the year with hygiene tips, health news and updates about your practice.

18. Use email marketing: Email marketing is not an efficient method of staying in touch with your existing patients. But you can use emails for sending reminders, promotional offers and general updates about your practice to your existing patients.

19. Invest in local SEO: Make sure you include local SEO strategies in your marketing mix so that your practice shows up in local search results. This is because when potential patients are searching for doctors and medical services online, you want your practice to come up with the first few on top. Having your practice website appearing in the top five slots of a search engine is essential for attracting new patients.

20. Get listed in local online directories: More than 70 percent of people searching for medical professionals make their selection based on local listings in online directories such as Google+, Yelp, White Pages, etc. Listing your practice in an online local directory is a great way to steer targeted traffic to your website.

21. Generate media exposure: The right amount of media exposure can attract a large volume of new patients and increase the branding of your practice. Generating media exposure requires time, effort and a thorough understanding of how each media works. When done properly, media exposure can bring tremendous results for your practice.

22. Post real pictures of your staff: Personalize your practice website and make it an extension of your clinic. Instead of using stock and generic photos on your practice website and social media profiles, post real-life pictures of your team and office. Real-life images will display the comfort of your clinic and add some personality to your practice website.

23. Re-engage past patients: Set up a system for monitoring patient appointments and sending reminders to those who have been missing their appointments for a particular period. Even if a patient seems reluctant to return to your practice, you might convince them to come back with a few small gestures.

24. Take all cases seriously: Always answer patient calls, especially emergency calls, promptly. If patients are suffering and you are not available for them, they will never come to see you again. If you are available for patients in times of an emergency and go above and beyond for them, they will not waste a minute in spreading the good word about your practice.

25. Brochures and business cards: Brochures kept in your office or mailed to potential and existing patients can be an effective marketing tool. Information available in catalogs can be an educational tool that creates awareness about your practice. Moreover, displaying business cards in your reception area will keep your name intact, and patients will have access to your contact information for future reference.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

6 Low-Cost, Highly Effective Ways to Boost Staff Morale in Your Healthcare Practice

6 Low-Cost, Highly Effective Ways to Boost Staff Morale in Your Healthcare Practice

Healthcare industry-induced stress can derail your staff’s demeanor if you aren’t continually keeping morale boosters on your radar. When your staff is happy, they’re more engaged in their jobs, friendlier to patients (who immediately sense it!) and more productive. And if a disengaged employee leaves your practice, it costs about 25% of their salary to replace them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The bottom line: Happy workers create repeat customers and fewer overhead costs.

But how do you perk up your staff’s spirits when the healthcare horizon looks so foggy? Implement these six morale boosters in your practice:

1. Communicate with your staff. While there are many ways to inquire how your staff feels about the work environment, such as via an anonymous survey or during one-on-one reviews, the simplest way is often overlooked. Just ask your staff regularly how things are going – during everyday conversation, staff meetings and formal reviews. Be sure to listen, let them know you genuinely care and then take action to address their concerns. If you sense there sincerely is a problem, do your best to work it out. Staff members who believe their concerns matter will feel valued, which in turn leads them to value your patients and take pride in their work.

2. Lend a hand. Hierarchical breakdown is often the disconnect in an organization, and healthcare is no exception. Let your staff know you are there to lend a hand if you are available. Whether you restock cups at the water dispenser or assist with a patient issue, showing your staff you’re not too above them to take part in the day-to-day duties that their jobs entail will forge trust and respect.

3. Shine those stars. There are so many ways you can recognize your staff’s achievements. Patients and staff alike will enjoy perusing a decorated bulletin board dedicated solely to recognizing staff accomplishments and shining stars. Post staff photos with their achievements, and make sure you offer both staff and patients a clear way to call out an outstanding achievement. Even if you recognize a staff member in a quieter fashion, such as an email, be sure to cc someone even higher up the corporate ladder than yourself to give that employee an added pat on the back!

4. Have fun. There are a number of ways you can pepper both laughs and smiles into your regular routine. Recognize staff birthdays with simple decorations and breakfast treats, celebrate the seasonal holidays with a chance to win grab-bag prizes or spend the last ten minutes of your regular meetings having a little fun. And of course, who doesn’t love Crazy Hat Day?!

5. Make a big impact with the little things you do. Sometimes the small perks make the biggest impact on employee satisfaction. Flex time, free snacks, the ability to earn some extra time off and being able to adjust schedules due to family emergencies without repercussions are all amazing ways to ensure your employees know you care about their general health and well-being.

6. Participate in community events. When you participate in a hospital- or medical practice-sponsored fundraiser, you show the entire organization that you are committed to working together. Not only is occasionally getting the crew together outside of work good for team-building, it often brings awareness of an issue to the community, and it gives participants a sense of involvement and, oftentimes, hope. Just be mindful and respectful of family personal time, and don’t penalize anyone for not devoting their off-hours to volunteer at work functions.

Looking for more ways to boost your staff morale? Practice Builders has the perfect tool: our Customer Service Excellence program! Treat your healthcare team today, because when you help your staff improve the way they interact with patients, you’ll attract more patients and generate more revenue for your practice!

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Top 5 Digital Marketing Issues You Need to Consider to Hire the Best Digital Marketer for Your Healthcare Practice

Top 5 Digital Marketing Issues You Need to Consider to Hire the Best Digital Marketer for Your Healthcare Practice

Here’s the hard truth: You need to invest in digital marketing if you want your healthcare practice to remain competitive. The unfortunate reality is that digital marketing can get costly, and not every digital marketer is worth his weight in conversions. So if you’re going to make the investment ¬ as you know you need to ¬ be sure to do it carefully and cautiously so you don’t waste your time and money.

Here are the top five digital marketing issues you need to consider as you look to hire an effective digital marketer for your healthcare practice:

1. A long-term marketing plan. Don’t be afraid to ask a potential digital marketer to describe for you the 180-day marketing plan that he/she envisions for your healthcare practice. While a decent digital marketer might think three months ahead, a more skilled marketer should be thinking much farther into the future. The foundation you build now with your online presence will support your future marketing efforts. You want a digital marketer who will test and refine strategies along the way, not someone looking to implement cookie-cutter solutions with no plans to test results.

2. Solid metrics to gauge marketing results. You want your marketer to measure not only followers and traffic, but also conversions – the people coming into or returning to your practice because of your digital marketing strategy. Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is a great tool, but make sure your marketer can track a lead from a PPC ad all the way to that new patient lead. You also want to rank high in search engines and make sure your marketing efforts pay off in retaining current patients.

3. Future plans for your website. Be cautious if your prospective marketer seems more interested in beefing up your website with bling but isn’t discussing your site’s current analytics. Your digital marketer should be able to show you what your site’s traffic and conversions look like now, how they compare to other medical practices similar to yours and what the marketer plans to do to your site to get ROI for your practice.

4. Social media solutions. Be sure to inquire about which social media solutions your prospective marketer proposes to use for your practice. It should raise a red flag if he/she wants to just get your medical practice linked into as many channels as possible without a strategy. Your marketer should first be considering which channels your patients will likely frequent and why. Pay close attention to how a prospective marketer will select and post on those channels as well as how he/she intends to convert those followers into new or returning patients.

5. An email marketing plan. If you’d like your digital marketer to handle your email marketing, you should ensure he/she knows the rules for healthcare and, once again, ask about conversions. Can he/she measure click-thru and conversion rates? You want to know you’re generating some form of patient contact as a result of the emails. Does your potential marketer have strategies to improve your list quality? It’s also important to know how much you’ll need to spend to produce the emails vs. how much patient traffic you should get in return.

There are a lot of details to consider when creating a digital marketing strategy, but Practice Builders has the tools to help! Do you need more guidance on how to hire the right healthcare digital marketing person for your practice? Sign up for a free consultation with us and we’ll help you. Call us at 855.898.2710 or email us at info@practicebuilders.com.

PB product: Want more guidance on how to hire the right digital marketing person for your practice? Sign up for a free consultation with us and we’ll help you. Call us at 855.898.2710 or email us at info@practicebuilders.com

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Brand Your Healthcare Practice

Top 6 Reasons Why You Should Brand Your Healthcare Practice

Even if advertising isn’t your specialty, you can probably conjure up in your mind a variety of brands that you recognize and personal associations to go with them. Branding for your healthcare practice is similar in that your brand is what sets you apart from everyone else in your field. Your brand is your identity, which is solidified by how patients perceive and experience your services. Ultimately, it’s what comes to patients’ minds when they hear your name.

Branding your practice isn’t just about coming up with an amazing logo, business card and website. While those all play a part in sculpting your image, so does cultivating a friendly and caring environment, training your staff on cohesive patient/employee communication skills and remaining flexible and professional. But why does creating a brand for your practice matter so much?

Here are the top six reasons why you need to invest in branding your healthcare practice:

1. Gain a positive reputation. Top-notch customer service, scheduling flexibility and a friendly, clean and caring environment are all part of your branded image. When you excel in these areas, you’ll gain an amazing reputation for your practice in the community… which will be reflected in reviews patients write about your practice on sites like Yelp and Healthgrades.

2. Establish yourself as a specialist. Which procedure or condition that you treat brings in the greatest return on investment? Market to that specialty. When you target your marketing in this way, you position yourself to drum up more business in that arena and also make a name for yourself as the provider of choice for that service.

3. Build staff morale. When you create a reputable brand for your medical practice, your staff will take pride in that. You may also find a greater number of applicants coming your way because you’ll also establish a reputation for your practice as a great place to work!

4. Establish credibility and trust. The more your name gets out in the community with positive associations, whether they’re built around the caliber of your treatment or your commitment to customer loyalty, both current and potential patients will be willing to put their care in your trusting hands. News like that gets around fast!

5. Increase referrals. A well-branded medical practice with satisfied customers will gain you more referrals. Plus, other physicians will be happy to refer their patients to you when you prove your worth in the local medical community. Sometimes, even, if your specialty is hard to come by, your referrals may filter in from a greater regional area.

6. Boost your bottom line. You’re in the profession to help people, but from the business aspect you need to remain profitable. If your practice is the type whose services aren’t covered under most insurance programs, like plastic surgery, your patients generally pay out of pocket. They are more apt to do that with a well-branded office that has established credibility, trust and a positive reputation.

Not sure where to start when it comes to branding? Make sure you do it right. Contact us at info@practicebuilders.com or 800-679-1200 to sign up for a free marketing consult with our Practice Builder experts, and we’ll get started!

Medical Healthcare Marketing

6 Ways to Promote Your Practice Around the Holidays

6 Ways to Promote Your Practice Around the Holidays

Many healthcare practices see a lull in business around the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit around and wait for things to pick back up. The holiday season is a perfect opportunity to send well-wishes to your patients, show a personal side to your healthcare practice and boost your bottom line. Here are six holiday marketing tips for your healthcare practice that will engage recurring patients and attract new ones:

1. Hold a charity drive. Collect canned food, toys or donations in exchange for a discount on a product or service. Or, give a portion of your proceeds from a specific service to a local charity. This idea truly benefits everyone involved: Your patients will help those in need, and you’ll increase awareness about your healthcare practice.

2. Send out a colorful holiday email. Email marketing is proven to be one of the best ways to market products and services, and the holiday season is a great time to remind patients of all your practice has to offer. Don’t forget a festive email template to grab reader’s attention! You can also include holiday stories from your staff for an added personal touch.

3. Create a holiday-themed social media contest. On your social media sites, ask patients to post holiday pictures with a theme. For example, you could ask them to post festive pictures with their pets or pictures that show them celebrating the holiday in a healthy way. Then have your staff vote on their favorite, and offer a small gift or service to the winner. This will help you engage with your current patients while also encouraging potential patients to participate.

4. Revamp your website with holiday-themed logos and pictures. A festive logo will spread holiday cheer and help you connect with your patients. To update your logo, you may need the help of a graphic designer, who has a creative eye; the holiday logo should be festive, yet also maintain the look of the original so it’s easy to recognize. Take it a step further and add holiday themes and photos to your social media pages, as well.

5. Send out holiday cards. This is a tangible way to keep your practice top-of-mind for your patients and show them you care. Make it even more personal with a hand-written message and signature. Just make sure to avoid cards that are religious or mention a specific holiday – you want to make sure all your patients feel included in your well-wishes.

6. Write a holiday-themed blog post (or a series of them!). If your healthcare practice has a blog, this is the perfect time to write a series of posts that pertain to the season. Topics may include ways to stay healthy around the holidays, how to deal with holiday stress, healthy holiday recipes and more. These posts will be a helpful resource to your patients and can help drive traffic to your website.

CTA: Need help developing a holiday promotion that will skyrocket your business? Sign up for a FREE marketing consultation with us and we’ll create a plan of action for you! Call PB at 855.898.2710 or email at info@practicebuilders.com.

Medical Healthcare Marketing

How to Make SEO Work for Your Dental Practice

How to Make SEO Work for Your Dental Practice

For your dental practice to succeed, you want to ensure you’re attracting new patients to your practice. But in the age of the Internet and an ever-expanding online market, it may feel like a challenge.

While there is a surge of competition in the online market, there are steps you can take to ensure your practice attracts new patients. When it comes to the online market, your best bet is to employ SEO, or search engine optimization.

Whether this is the first time you’ve heard of SEO or you’re looking for fresh strategies for your dental practice, we’ve put together a guide on SEO for dentists.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization is an Internet marketing technique that considers what keyword terms and phrases a target audience would use to raise how your website ranks on search engine sites like Google, Yahoo and Bing. The higher you rank on a search engine results page, the more website visitors you get, which increases your chances of converting those visitors to patients.

SEO has evolved in recent years beyond keywords and phrases. While those are still important, it’s just as important to ensure that your website is easy-to-use and up-to-date with the current online trends. Here are some ways you can help ensure your SEO marketing strategy is in line with the current SEO trends:

Keep It Local

To attract potential patients, your SEO efforts should also be focused on your local area. Using keywords throughout your site that include “dental practice” and your location will help patients in your area find you on Google. It’s also important to ensure that you have correct and up-to-date listings in local online directories.

Optimize Everything

It’s important to ensure that you have as much of your website optimized as possible. This can be done in a variety of ways. Start by ensuring that all the services you offer are listed on your dental practice’s website; that way, you can make sure you reach potential patients looking for specific dental services. Each page of your website should include a description that you can pepper with keywords and phrases. You should also make sure that your page headings, titles and permalinks contain target keywords. The more you optimize, the more opportunities you have to include all the keywords and phrases you need to attract the patients you want.

Consider Patient Needs

If you’re still having a hard time thinking about what SEO keywords to use, think about what your patients want and need. If you’re still at a loss, put yourself in your patient’s shoes – what terms would you use if you were looking for a dental practice in your area?

Another way to use SEO is to answer questions your patients may have. Creating a blog for your dental practice will help you answer patient questions, whether they’re about specific dental procedures or common dental pains.

Keep Your Website Fast

SEO isn’t just about keywords – it’s also important that your site functions properly to ensure you have a good SEO ranking. Search engine Google uses site speed as an algorithm signal to rank pages. Make sure your website and mobile site have fast loading times to keep your SEO ranking high.

Add Links

Another way to increase your SEO ranking is to add links to your website. You can do this two ways: Link to other pages of your website on your site or link to other websites and articles throughout your site to help your SEO ranking.

Update When Needed

Always make sure to update your website as needed. Adding fresh content to your website helps increase the number of times a search engine indexes your website. The more you update, the more frequently search engines reassess your site’s position on its index, giving you the opportunity to have a higher ranking.

Make Sure Your Mobile Site Has SEO, Too

Don’t forget about mobile devices! Mobile sites are indexed separately from desktop websites for SEO. By optimizing your mobile site, you get twice the SOE optimization opportunities.

Like anything trendy, SEO trends change and evolve over time – sometimes in as little as a few months. To stay current with your SEO marketing strategies, consider using the services of a dental marketing company like Practice Builders. We can assess your online SEO strategies and suggest changes so you can make the most out of your marketing techniques. Visit our website to book a complimentary general dentistry marketing consultation. We’re here to help!

Medical Healthcare Marketing

Is Email Marketing Right for Your Healthcare Practice?

Is Email Marketing Right for Your Healthcare Practice?

The good news is email marketing is effective – really effective. According to Mawazo.ca, email marketing is 40% more effective than Facebook or Twitter. Before you integrate email into your healthcare marketing plan, however, there are some factors you should consider.

What makes email different than other online marketing forms is the fact that it is directly delivered to your target audience. Where social media and the sea that is the Internet at large are filled with unwanted advertisements and blasts, email is a place of relative quiet where (ideally) only the people you’ve invited can reach you. That is its main advantage, but it also means you need to be responsible with that privilege. In short, you need a plan before you begin.

To think through if email marketing is right for your healthcare practice, ask yourself a couple of questions:

-Do you have content your base wants?

To justify showing up and to earn your patients’ trust to continue showing up in their inboxes, think about what’s in it for them. If your email marketing is only to ask them for something or remind them to come visit, your patients will likely just trash your emails and unsubscribe. Think about what content or offers you can provide for your patients via your email marketing. For instance, offer patients 20% off glasses frames or your professional tips for maintaining healthy eating habits in the busy back-to-school season.

-Can you deliver it consistently?

Email marketing campaigns are most successful when the emails are delivered on a consistent basis. It could be once a month, once every two weeks – as long as it is consistent enough that your patients know to expect it. If you wait too long, patients may forget they signed up for your email list and unsubscribe.

If you answered “Yes” to both these questions, then you will need to put some things in place to launch your practice’s email marketing campaign. You will need:

-A good email list

Gather email addresses by asking patients to opt-in when they visit your practice and your site. Here your work from before will pay off: When you ask patients for their email address, tell them something specific about what you plan to do with it.

-Good content and design

You can plan out your emails in advance. Again, make sure you are considering your patients’ point of view and be sure you are providing them something valuable. To make sure your emails are not doomed to be unread or trashed, you will need an enticing subject line and more than just a block of text. Give your email a colorful banner or design. You do have to make sure you include information on how patients can unsubscribe, but make your email so worthwhile and engaging that they won’t want to.

If you’re ready to learn more about adding email to your healthcare marketing strategy, we would be happy to help you get it off the ground. Email info@practicebuilders.com.

Medical Healthcare Marketing