Definitive Guide to Attracting Patients

Definitive Guide to Attracting Patients

Attracting patients is a key concern for doctors starting out in private practice and for those with established practices who want to increase the frequency of their practice sessions.

How are you attracting patients?

Marketing is essential to the success of any business, including private medicine. While unfamiliar to many doctors, it does not have to be complex or time-consuming. So here are some effective strategies to help promote your business.

Referrals

The most effective way to expand your practice is through word of mouth and via existing patients, friends and family. Are your patients familiar with the full range of services you offer? Are they aware you are actively aiming to expand your practice?

Contented patients will automatically act as ambassadors and refer you to their friends and colleagues. It is also a good strategy to maximise communication with your colleagues – including GPs and specialist consultants.

Traditional marketing methods

With current focus firmly on the innovative world of digital marketing, it is easy to overlook tried and tested methods of promoting your practice.

  • A brochure or simple flyer is a cost-effective marketing tool, which can be handed directly to patients and potential referees or simply displayed in your waiting room.
  • Articles in relevant publications will enhance your reputation.
  • Paper newsletters are another potent tool for marketing your practice; there are many available options once you start thinking creatively.

Check your online profile

Google your name and see what you find. Prospective patients will do this before they book their first appointment. It is vital to take control of your online presence.

Ideally, your website should be prioritised within any list of results. It is not necessary to pay for listings – there are numerous free directories featuring private doctors in London.

You should ensure your details are listed accurately and updated on each one of them. You may get mentioned on websites such as Mumsnet. While you cannot control this, you can engage with the process positively.

Website

A website is an integral aspect of digital marketing and a powerful communication tool – allowing you to monitor, amend and update content as your practice develops. It is often the first port of call for potential patients and a vital component in promoting your unique expertise and services.

Fundamental technical components include:
  1. 24-hour email contact which is highly visible.
  2. well-designed, user-friendly interface.
  3. fully compatible with mobile device access.

Make it easy for potential patients visiting your site.  Ensure your phone number and email are highly visible and facilitate this with a one-click appointment process.

Publish

Blogs are a vital tool in promoting your business and communicating positively with patients. Frequent blogging is a highly effective way of reassuring prospective and existing patients and letting them know what to expect when they book an appointment. By citing existing patients’ positive experiences, using real examples, you can ensure readers will have highly positive expectations.

Social media

Use social media to your advantage as part of your digital marketing strategy. It is a highly-effective way of driving patients to your website prior to booking an appointment.

By posting content related to your personality and practice, you can strategically attract more patients. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all relevant in this field.

  • LinkedIn is primarily used to network with colleagues and patients;
  • Facebook to interact with patients and to perfect and control your public profile.

Speaking at conferences

Good speakers are continually in demand both nationally and globally. This could be an excellent opportunity to impart your expertise and expand your network.

  • Speaking commitments require careful planning, both leading up and afterwards.
  • Focused research to establish the right event, location and correspondence procedures would be logical first steps.
  • Allow plenty of time for this process.

Events

With careful planning, a successful event can yield productive results and, ultimately, bring you more patients. It does not have to be ambitious in scale; a well-planned social gathering can be very relevant – if you get the initial focus right.

  • Think about your guest list, whether a small-scale occasion or a focused educational event with the aim of referring doctors.
  • Allow plenty of time to choose the right venue and location, appropriate catering and, crucially, allow sufficient notice for your guests to plan their attendance.

To summarise: authenticity is always a good strategy – use the marketing tools you feel most comfortable with – but do not be afraid to branch out.  Good luck.

Talk to us about how we can help attract new patients.  We have a team dedicated to marketing private medical practice and have a wealth of experience for you to tap into.  Call us today 020 7952 1460 or via send us an email at info@designatedmedical.com.

Managing Director Jane Braithwaite regularly writes for the Independent Practitioner Today and her latest series entitled Private Practice Growth Guide is a must read for anyone looking to attract more patients and increase the frequency of practice sessions.

 

 

Medical Secretary – They can make your business soar

Medical Secretary – They can make your business soar

TopTips2

One of the most important hires you will ever make is your medical secretary. 

Jane Braithwaite gives some excellent advice and tips on working in partnership.

Your medical secretary should ideally be viewed as your business partner. But in a world where your patient is your highest priority and things generally move at lightning speed, it’s truly difficult to find the time to cultivate your relationship with them.

Many independent practitioners today work from numerous locations and are bombarded with information and technology. However, many overlook their most valuable asset, namely their medical secretary.

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Medical Secretary – They can make your business soar

Your medical secretary may well be in contact with your patients more regularly than you are. They are an ambassador for your practice and represent you always. Your patients’ opinion of your practice will depend greatly on your care, but also on the service that your team provides.

The role of a modern medical secretary is a specialist one, but primarily it is about customer service. Your patients will need support to book appointments, arrange prescriptions and follow on treatment. They also need assistance dealing with insurance companies and other billing matters.

Crucial role

For any doctor looking to grow their practice, the capabilities of their medical secretary play a crucial role. The initial patient call or email will be handled by your medical secretary.

They will provide information on your behalf and may well play a role in overcoming objections such as your diary availability and the cost of treatment.

The modern medical secretary has a key role to play in developing your practice and will support you in doing so. It is important to recognise that there is an element of business development involved, and that is a complex area where you will need to work very closely together.

If you accept all this to be true, your next question will naturally be: how do I maximise the relationship and build this important partnership?

[plsc_pullquote align=”right”]Mutually beneficial relationships, be they personal or professional, have communication and open dialogue at their very heart. Taking the time to have meaningful and purposeful interactions is key.[/plsc_pullquote]

This doesn’t necessarily mean you must discuss personal issues, but rather that you need to make your dialogue beneficial.

‘What do you need from me to (insert your task)?’ is a great way to start the flow of information. Listen to your medical secretary’s requests and respond accordingly.

Never presume

Never presume that your medical secretary automatically knows how you like things to be done, so be sure to take the guesswork out of it. If you don’t like being bombarded with emails, ask for one which rounds up outstanding points/tasks.

If you don’t like emails at all, be sure to schedule regular time with your medical secretary for a meeting or call to run through your tasks and avoid changing or moving this time.

[plsc_pullquote align=”left”]Provide clear feedback, so that your secretary knows how to improve in all respects, including how they communicate with you.[/plsc_pullquote]

Asking your medical secretary how they like to do things will also help you get a broader understanding of how your working practices affect them. Likes and dislikes are what fundamentally help us to connect with each other.

Most medical secretaries are in this field because they care about patients, are highly skilled organisers and can tackle any task or requests in the most efficient way.

It’s quite a leap of faith to trust someone to have such responsibility for your practice, but empowering your secretary to make key decisions within agreed boundaries will enable your secretary to be most effective.

Clear priorities

Being clear in your priorities will enable your medical secretary to deliver the results you need. Share your objectives with them so that you can both work towards achieving them.

If you want to increase the number of private clinics you hold each week, ensure your secretary knows this.

If you promise your patients to provide their results within a certain time, ensure you both agree this is realistic and that your secretary shares a commitment to achieve this.

There will be mistakes. It is crucial to handle these with care and respect. Your medical secretary may make a mistake from time to time; for example, forgetting to follow up on something. But so will you.

How you handle this will set the scene for how you both evolve and learn to ensure continuous improvement. None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes, so be accountable for your errors, which will show your medical secretary that he/she can be open and honest too.

[plsc_pullquote align=”right”]Creating an environment of mutual respect will be unendingly beneficial overall. A good medical secretary will offer a solution to any problem and will work with you to ensure a positive resolution.[/plsc_pullquote]

There will be problems that are outside the control of your medical secretary – for example, a colleague cancels a theatre list, for good reason, of course, but this leaves you stranded at short notice.

It is your medical secretary who breaks the news to you. Be careful not to shoot the messenger and alienate the one person who can help you find a way out of the chaos.

If you make this mistake in the heat of the moment, be sure to apologise. Without such contrition, this can lead to your secretary withholding information to avoid getting shot next time.

Personal tasks

The biggest cause of disagreement is often asking your medical sectary to perform tasks that they perceive to be outside their job description.

This may vary depending on the background of your secretary and the culture they are used to working in, but one obvious example is personal tasks.

If you expect your secretary to do personal tasks for you, then please make sure this is clear from day one. It would help to explain that their support with these mundane tasks enables you to be a more effective doctor and is therefore invaluable.

Your medical secretary may feel that there is not time to take on these responsibilities and, in that case, consider engaging the support of a flexible private PA to assist you.

And finally, show appreciation. Your medical secretary is both highly qualified and committed to their role and does not expect you to show sincere thanks for every task performed.

But when your secretary goes above and beyond the call of duty for you, your appreciation will go a long way. I am not suggesting you make a grand gesture of flowers and champagne – although this may be appropriate in some circumstances – but taking the time to say ‘thank you’ for a specific piece of work done well is very powerful.

Working as a partnership will ensure your patients receive the best experience possible from your practice, will generate loyalty from your medical secretary and will ensure you have an enjoyable day-to-day experience in your private practice.

Top ten tips

Communication is key and it’s a two-way process.

Listen carefully to feedback regarding your patients to help you develop your practice. Your secretary talks to your patients more often than you do.
Be responsive. Remember that your secretary is making requests of you to enable him/her to respond to your patients.

Share your objectives and agree how you can achieve them together.

Discuss and agree how to work together. Don’t assume it’s obvious.

Trust your secretary to make decisions on your behalf – within agreed boundaries, of course.

Be accountable for your mistakes and create a culture of trust enabling your secretary to be open and honest.
Don’t shoot the messenger. If you do make this mistake, be sure to apologise.

Discuss and agree boundaries and jointly develop solutions.

Show appreciation: say ‘thank you’ when it is appropriate.

Jane Braithwaite is Managing Director at Designated Medical and regularly contributes to the Independent Practitioner Today publication.

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How To Grow Your Private Practice – 5 Simple Tips

How To Grow Your Private Practice – 5 Simple Tips

Managing your own practice promises a flexible schedule and the ability to set some of your own policies and procedures. However, possibly one of the most challenging aspects is growing your patient list and marketing your services to an already saturated London market.

We have created 5 proven tips to grow your Private Practice

1. Show Transparency In The Customer Care process

Demand for private healthcare has sharply risen due to the increasing awareness of cancer and lifestyle-related conditions seen on T.V and the web. We need to go further in our response than just the typical facts and figures, we need to show the process of how a private patient is cared for compared to the NHS, and the results achieved.

2. Offer Package Deals

The majority of patients are lacking in understanding about how much treatments cost and the finance options available to them. Another thing that deters prospective patients from choosing private healthcare is the add-on prices that may occur. A great way to rectify this would be to offer package deals, such as a complete health check.

3. Network With Your Local Hospital

Build a good relationship with the management at your local hospital. Invite them to visit your practice for a complimentary treatment. This will encourage them to refer patients to you. Also look into joining LinkedIn groups such as Harley Street Forum to expand your brand.

4. Launch your Practice On Social Media

Launch your business on social media, in particular Twitter. Source for health queries in your local area and offer advice. There are multiple private doctor accounts cropping up under the hashtag #askadoctor where professionals offer feedback to the potential client, asking them to pop in for a check up.

5. Create Blog Post With Updated Medical News

Research the trends you currently specialise in and create your own clinic blog to post updates. The posts can be as little as under 300 words. By sharing these to your Twitter followers or LinkedIn groups, you will drive traffic to your site, increasing your google search rankings.

 

Take a look here at how Designated PA grew their online presence using digital marketing in just 6 months!

Our team of digital marketing experts can do the same for you.

Contact Rosie to discuss how we can help your practice grow.

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