With the world recovering from one of the worst pandemics in history, hospitals, and medical offices will have to work hard to rebuild their patient volume levels back to where they once were. To see your practice survive and succeed in this industry, it’s important to make sure that you take every measure possible to ensure that your patients feel safe, healthy, and informed about staying healthy after the pandemic has come and gone. Here are strategies that can help you do just that.
One of the most effective strategies for increasing patient volume is to reach out to your current patients. The concern with being that aggressive is that you might annoy or even offend some of them, but it’s an essential strategy nonetheless. Give them a call or an email and ask how their treatment is going and whether they need anything. Mention one thing you could do for them at each appointment in case they don’t come back in a while—for example, you could remind them about a question they had during their last visit. If possible, offer to reschedule your appointments so that current patients can be seen first.
You can’t earn new patient volume if you don’t communicate with your existing patients. In fact, surveys show that many people in an area hit by a pandemic will turn to their doctor for more information and advice. If you have lost volume, it is critical to maintain communication with existing patients to keep them loyal. Using automated reminders and live phone calls (either by phone tree or by hiring an agency) are both excellent ways to stay top of mind with clients and retain their loyalty. The key here is not being afraid to pick up the phone and call them! The worst thing that could happen is they don’t answer, and you get a voicemail…no big deal!
Everyone who works in a healthcare environment has an essential role in pandemic preparedness planning. Yet, as an industry, we tend to wait until a pandemic is upon us before asking ourselves, Is our workforce ready? The focus of pandemic preparedness efforts in healthcare should be on health and safety, but there is also much to be said for what we can do to ensure that when people are scared or worried, they still turn to their doctors. Patients know that many things go awry during a crisis—they may experience delays getting prescriptions filled or worries about how long treatment might take. People will want access to care and demand it even when it’s not convenient. They need more than reassurance; they need support.
It’s essential to identify how you’ll differentiate your practice to re-establish patient volume. Your ideal patients may have moved out of town, changed their insurance carriers, or given up on medical care after struggling with post-pandemic billing issues. Taking a step back and genuinely understanding what they need and want from their healthcare provider is paramount when trying to capture them again; their expectations will likely be dramatically different. And once you figure that out, you can create a plan for how you’ll address it in your practice. Remember, one size does not fit all patients, and one practice does not fit all practices.
Your practice’s referral relationships with practices within your market area will be critical in getting and keeping new patients post-pandemic. You can’t rely on just one or two of these relationships, though; you need a comprehensive plan to expand referral relationships by 10-20 percent, if not more. Do what you can to help strengthen existing relationships and look for additional opportunities to connect with new referring practices.