In recent years, there have been a lot of changes to the ways that medical practices operate. Reimbursement levels are lower, so many physicians are feeling pressure to take on more patients to keep reimbursement levels the same.
Specialists like orthopedic surgeons and gastroenterologists rely on referrals from primary care practitioners for the majority of their patient base, but with the increased volume of patients, many are having a hard time taking care of all of their referral patients in a timely manner. These specialists need those referral sources, but are at risk of losing them because their available time is becoming more and more limited.
On top of that, specialists are often doing less of the type of work that they want to be doing because they are under pressure to take care of every single patient that comes through the door, even if some of those patients may not be the best fit for the practice’s specialties. Many times, they are seeing patients as they are available to be able to keep up the patient volume they need.
With all of these factors at play, it’s no wonder why physicians feel like they are losing control–over their schedules, their patient volume, and the type of work that they do.
While some of these factors cannot be changed, practices can change how they approach these issues to gain more control over the outcomes of these issues.
How? It might surprise you, but the right marketing approach can help.
Control the Referral Process with Marketing
Marketing doesn’t have to be about simply getting more patients. With the right approach, marketing can help you get more of the right patients. While the distinction sounds minimal, shifting the focus in that way could make a big difference for your practice.
Your practice may not have as much control over reimbursements, but you can change how you are getting patients in the door. Many specialty practices rely on referring physicians for the majority of their patients. Those practices can’t afford to lose a referral source, but many are having a hard time fitting in referrals with the increased volume of patients they need to see. Practices that do lose valuable referral sources due to hospital buyouts or consolidation could be put in an unfavorable position if they can’t bring in new patients from other sources.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Your practice doesn’t have to rely primarily on referrals from other practices.
What if we told you that you could create your own referral source for patients, one that isn’t dependent solely on other practices and physicians? Sure, those referral sources will still be there in some capacity, but your practice won’t have to rely on them as much for the majority of your patient base.
By marketing your practice online, your practice can connect with new patients without having to wait on referral practices to send over patients. Patients are increasingly turning to online sources when looking for a new physician, rather than solely relying on referrals from physicians and recommendations from friends and family. If you can create an effective online presence, you can not only create your own referral source, but also bring in more of the right patients for your practice.
Marketing to the Right Patients
Marketing your practice to the right patients ensures that you will get more of the kinds of patients you really want to see. If your practice wants to focus on particular procedures and services, you can devise a marketing plan to attract those patients.
Many patients are looking online to find physicians and specialists. According to Pew Research Center, 72% of U.S. adults have looked online for health information. If you want to grab their attention, you have to be where they are. This starts with your website.
Your website should help patients learn more about your practice and how you can help. If your practice wants to focus primarily on particular procedures and conditions, you need to make that clear on your website. List out the conditions you treat and procedures you offer. Give detailed descriptions of how your practice handles these procedures and conditions so that prospective patients understand how you can help.
From there, you need to make it easier for patients to find your website and learn more about your practice. The actual strategy needed varies from practice to practice, but often includes a combination of local listings, content marketing, reputation management, and paid search to catch the attention of patients who are searching online.
Marketing your practice can take some work to get going, and it isn’t a “set it and forget it” process. You’ll have to continue to evaluate and make changes along the way. However, once you’ve got the right mix for your marketing plan, you will start to attract more patients from online sources. You will have created your own referral source, and even better–you’ll see more of the types of patients you want to see.
If your practice can handle most of the marketing in-house, great! If it can’t, you don’t have to go about it alone. We’ve helped hundreds of practices all over the country with online marketing for over 15 years. We can help you find the right marketing mix for your practice and set you up with all of the tools you need to start bringing in more of the right patients.
You shouldn’t have to rush to fit as many patients into your schedule as possible. If you get more of the right patients for your practice, you won’t have to. If you’re ready to create your own referral source and start getting more of the right patients for your practice, give us a call at (504) 581-4636. We’d love to chat with you more about what your practice needs and how we can help you get there.