Now that COVID-19 vaccines have reached widespread availability in the United States, rebuilding and increasing patient volume at the medical practice has once again become a hot topic among healthcare providers. As restrictions have been rescinded and vaccines made available, the stage is seemingly set for patients to safely return to the practice – yet many providers are still struggling to bring patient volume back up to pre-pandemic levels.
While determining the exact cause of low visit totals can be difficult, certain best practices exist in nearly all aspects of practice operations that can help reverse this trend. Here are 4 ways your practice can increase patient volume:
1. Invest in Practice Marketing
Healthcare is a business. Like any other business, the services and products being offered must be adequately and attractively presented and marketed to the customer. In this case, the care offered by your organization is the product – and your existing (and prospective) patients are the customer.
So, how can you best leverage practice marketing to reach these patients? In today’s digital age, it all starts with a website. A well-designed, easy-to-use, and interactive website is the foundation for all of your practice’s marketing efforts, as this will be the main place where your patient can learn about and communicate directly with your practice.
Elements every practice should have on its website include a Request an Appointment button, contact information, continually fresh blog content, and a mobile-optimized site design. If you’d like to see what this looks like, the Internet is full of great examples of practice websites to help you get started.
Additionally, it’s important to focus on search engine optimization (SEO) as part of your online practice marketing strategy. Building your website with an SEO focus helps your practice get found online when users search for a practice like yours.
Beyond creating a robust practice website, there are other actions you can take online to market your practice – such as establishing and maintaining a social media presence. This is a great way to interact with patients and maintain relationships with them. Managing your online reputation can actively boost your practice’s standing online and can also help you gain patients. You may even consider employing a pay-per-click (PPC) targeted ad campaign to get your business in the eyes of new, potential customers.
When it comes to rebuilding patient volume, practice marketing is one of the most powerful tools your practice can use.
2. Engage in Proactive Patient Outreach
In addition to your digital practice marketing efforts, outreach to your existing patient base is key to rebuilding your patient volume. Your patients already know you, and they’ve had time to receive a vaccination if they so choose. Now is the time to take advantage of both of these realities and reach out to them about coming back in for care.
Start by looking through your existing patient registries, and identifying patients who are likely to need an appointment. This could include patients with certain chronic health conditions, elderly patients, or other groups. Separate their contact information, and set up professional calling and emailing campaigns to reach out to them about making appointments.
Patient outreach also includes being clear and communicative about steps your practice is actively taking to make the office safe for patients to return. With health orders, guidance, and restriction orders changing all the time during the past two years, many patients have informational whiplash. Be proactive, and share information on your website and in email and telephone correspondences about ways your staff is working to keep in-person care safe for all parties involved.
A further component of patient outreach is telehealth. During the height of the pandemic, care providers learned how useful a tool telehealth can be for maintaining patients’ appointments without the risk of exposure (on both sides). Pandemic or not, telehealth will remain an effective tool in the provider’s toolkit, and practice staff should leverage it as such to reach patients where they are.
Re-engaging with patients via patient outreach is a pillar of any effective strategy to rebuild your patient volume.
3. Eliminate Workflow Inefficiencies
While it may not seem obvious at first, eliminating workflow inefficiencies within your practice can go a long way toward increasing patient volume.
One of the best places to start is with your EHR. If your EHR isn’t performing as well as it could, your practice is likely to experience a variety of issues. These can include cash-flow challenges, poor productivity, quality and scheduling issues, and decreased revenue, among other pain points.
What do these things have to do with increasing patient volume? When practice staff and resources are tied up in an inefficient EHR, it detracts from your ability to divert those resources toward efforts to shore up patient volume.
Addressing practice inefficiencies extends beyond achieving an efficient EHR. Leadership should also assess practice operations – everything from staffing to office workflows and beyond. Correcting and refining your practice operations can reduce burnout and help you get the most out of staff and resources. It is a good idea to consider hiring an operations consultant to get the most out of your investments.
Eliminating pain points in your practice itself is a great step to rebuilding patient volume, as it allows you to redirect previously squandered resources toward boosting patient volume.
4. Overcome Short Staffing and Burnout
Short staffing and burnout are widespread in the healthcare industry after more than a year of challenge after challenge. Medical practices and healthcare organizations of all sorts are looking to find ways to decrease burnout and get more out of already-overworked staff members – including doctors and other members of the leadership. Luckily, there are straightforward tools and techniques which exist to help your practice do exactly that.
For one, consider acquiring software that can help you and your staff save time on documentation. While a “necessary evil,” visit documentation is one of the biggest time-sinks for physicians. However, with a smart medical documentation software like Augmedix, which uses a blend of remote scribes and artificial intelligence to quickly and accurately take visit notes for the physician, healthcare providers can spend more time on other responsibilities and with more patients. This increases the number of patient visits possible in a day.
Plus, there are other medical software applications which can help you save time on administrative tasks, thereby enabling you to spend time with additional patients. One is a healthcare dashboard, which allows you to see – at a glance, and without the laborious compilation of management reports – how your organization is performing in a variety of key performance indicators (KPIs).
In fact, certain dashboards feature customizability that allows you to select and view the KPIs which matter most to your practice – whether care-, revenue-, or operations-related. With the insights garnered from a medical dashboard, your practice can optimize operations and redirect the time and revenue saved toward efforts to rebuild patient volume.
Using documentation and dashboard software can help your practice overcome short staffing and burnout, and thereby increasing patient volume.
Medical Advantage Can Help
Whether through practice marketing, operations and outreach consulting, or dashboards and documentation software – Medical Advantage’s consultants bring a rich healthcare and IT background. Together, we will work side-by-side with you to help you rebuild your practice and increase your patient volume.
To find out how we can work with your practice to rebuild your patient volume, schedule a free consultation today.