The healthcare provider’s roadmap for practice growth in 2022
While medical practices are accustomed to clinical, financial, and operational changes, the events of the past two years have brought forth more change than most of us were prepared for. Many busy healthcare practices have had to learn to do more with less, while patient demand for greater access and convenience has skyrocketed. In a PatientPop survey conducted in May 2021, a majority of patients shared that digital convenience is a top priority — important enough to drive preference when searching for and interacting with their healthcare providers.
Growing your practice amidst this multitude of forces requires a sound strategy that drives both patient acquisition and retention, while optimizing your front office operations to reduce manual work. That’s why your 2022 growth strategy must include a variety of tools and strategies designed to attract more new patients, strengthen the patient-provider relationship, and ease the day for your overburdened office staff.
Step 1: Optimize your web presence to drive business
To thrive in today’s digital world, you need a powerful web presence to attract new patients and drive website traffic. Three out of four patients report searching online for care options — making it critical for your medical practice website to rank well in search results and deliver an exceptional first impression. By properly showcasing your practice on your website and across the internet, you can differentiate your brand and services and land more new patients.
Claim and optimize your online profiles across business and healthcare listings websites.
To make it easier for prospective patients to learn about your practice and the services you offer, your web presence must extend well beyond your URL. Sites like Google, Yelp, and WebMD give you opportunities to ensure that patients looking for a provider in your specialty get accurate, up-to-date information — regardless of where they’re looking.
By claiming and optimizing these free profiles and listings, you can highlight your providers, specialty, services, and procedures while ensuring all of your practice details (name, address, phone number, and business hours) are consistent across the web. To fully optimize your profiles and help convert more new patients, enhance each listing with photos and links to your online scheduling tool. If you’re short on time, focus on Google My Business to get the most online visibility.
Optimize your website for both usability and search results.
An optimized practice website will help drive more new appointment volume in two ways: first by attracting more website traffic; second, by delivering a user-friendly experience.
Build your website with search engines in mind.
More than 60 percent of patients regularly turn to the internet to look for healthcare, according to PatientPop research. Using proven search engine optimization (SEO) strategies, your website will have a better chance of being discovered by your target audience.
To improve your search engine rankings, start by creating an individual, content-rich web page for each service you offer. On each page, answer frequently asked questions you hear from patients about that service or condition, including the relevant medical information, signs and symptoms, treatments, and your overall approach to care. This will help you organize your website content into distinct categories, which notify search engines that your site may be an authority on the subject.
With this authority, and a natural use of search keywords in your content, you’ll boost your search engine optimization (SEO), thereby increasing your site’s page rank. This tactic also benefits patients visiting your site, with your practice providing comprehensive information on the conditions you treat and the services you provide. You’ll establish your practice as an expert resource and stay top-of-mind with patients — even those not quite ready to book an appointment.
Focus on great design.
Good, bad or ugly, the look and feel of your website makes an instantaneous impression on prospective patients. By establishing a design and structure that will impress both patients and search engines, you’ll encourage more website visitors to stick around long enough to book an appointment.
Begin with a responsive design that comfortably adjusts to any browser size. That ensures a great user experience, regardless of the device a website visitor is using.
Aim for a clean, user-friendly, streamlined design that is easy to navigate. Keep your homepage simple, allowing patients to easily find the key information they need. Get prospective patients familiar with your practice by featuring high-resolution images of your office, providers, and staff.
Drive appointment bookings with clear calls-to-action.
The primary purpose of your website is to convert visitors into new patients. Make it easy for your visitors to take a desired action that brings them one step closer to this goal. By strategically placing clear calls-to-action (CTAs) across your website, you can direct site visitors to book an appointment with a single click or tap to your online scheduling. To accommodate those who prefer to call your office, be sure to add one-tap calling, as well.
Ideally, you’ll want all scheduling CTAs to be sticky — meaning they remain visible even as visitors scroll and/or navigate through various pages.
For those visitors not yet ready to book an appointment, use CTAs that encourage prospective patients to follow your practice on social media or sign up for an email newsletter.
Step 2: Give prospective patients the digital experience they want.
If nothing else, the pandemic significantly proliferated the demand for digital convenience in every facet of consumer life. Whether it’s a telehealth visit or DoorDash food delivery, Americans have come to expect doing business in an online world and getting whatever they need from the convenience of their mobile device. Most experts believe there’s no turning back.
In 2022, healthcare practices that focus on offering digital conveniences stand to gain more new patients — and hold on to those who will switch providers to save time and avoid hassle.
Make it seamless for patients to book and remember appointments.
Getting patients booked and into the office for visits is the key to real practice growth, so why not make it easy? PatientPop research indicates more than 60 percent of patients prefer digital access to requesting a medical appointment. You can answer that demand with online patient scheduling, allowing patients to see your available appointment slots and book an upcoming visit, without sitting on hold or playing phone tag.
Your practice staff won’t waste time on many manual tasks associated with patient scheduling. Instead, they can focus on enhancing the in-person experience for each person who walks in your door.
From there, take it a step further with automated appointment confirmations and reminders, sent via text or email. One of the most in-demand patient preferences, reminders prevent costly no-shows and last-minute cancellations that can stunt practice growth.
Add technologies for greater convenience.
PatientPop research indicates that more than half of patients prefer a digital experience for five key interactions with practices: scheduling an appointment, filling out forms, paying their bill, asking their provider a question, and accessing their medical record. To improve patient satisfaction and staff productivity, consider adding the following tools:
- Online patient registration and intake for patients to fill out forms digitally before their appointment. This saves staff time, can streamline each patient’s visit, and eliminates the need to share pens and clipboards.
- Two-way text messaging for patients to send questions and requests appointments, and for your practice to deliver timely reminders and updates
- Online bill payment with email or text invoicing that simplifies the payment process for patients.
Step 3: Prioritize online reputation management.
Not only do today’s patients prefer practices that offer digital conveniences, they’re also more discerning than ever when choosing their provider. Seventy-four percent of patients say online reviews are very or extremely important when making their decision. Sixty-nine percent say they won’t consider a provider if they’re Google average star rating is lower than four out of five stars. Maintaining an impressive online reputation for your practice and providers is more important than ever.
Master your online reputation.
Your online reputation can make or break the way prospective patients see your practice. Too many negative reviews, and too few reviews, can hinder growth.
To improve your online reputation, consider implementing automated patient satisfaction surveys to keep a pulse on patient sentiment. Research shows that patients are far more likely to post reviews online when asked for feedback. Additionally, hearing from patients helps you identify any potential issues early and lets you know what you’re doing right.
Address all negative feedback.
When and if negative feedback comes in, address it promptly. A 2021 survey of patients shows that when practices don’t acknowledge negative feedback, patient satisfaction drops by 96 percent. On the other hand, responding to poor reviews or negative survey feedback demonstrates that you’re listening and can often turn a negative situation into an opportunity to strengthen the patient-provider relationship.
Equally as important, when you respond to online reviews, future prospective patients will see that you’ve acknowledged the feedback, that you’re attentive and approachable. Just be sure to keep your responses short and professional, and stay HIPAA-compliant by refraining from sharing any protected health information (PHI), even if the patient divulges those details in their review.
A healthcare practice’s potential for growth is in their ability to respond to patient preferences. Those practices that adopt technology to offer patients greater ease, convenience, and access are best poised for success in 2022. When done correctly, offering patients the digital experience they want will also save time for office staff, reducing burnout and allowing them to focus on other priorities.
Grow your practice with PatientPop
The leader in practice growth technology, PatientPop makes it easier for healthcare providers to run a thriving business with the industry’s most complete all-in-one practice growth platform.