As the market for healthcare providers has continued to become very competitive, practices are frustrated that they have to find ways to stay competitive themselves. Business Development traditionally has not been a part of the scope that a medical practice has had to focus on. After all, that is what sales teams do and why medical offices don’t have sales teams. There is a way for a medical practice to develop the business that does not involve a formal sales team. The more people you can be top of mind with the more new patients you will see come through your doors. Here are some best practices for healthcare providers to stay top of mind in their service areas and get new referrals and new patients to sustain their practices.
1. Referrals – Existing patients are valuable sources for new business. If you are providing them with exceptional (or even just very good) service, they should be comfortable referring you to others…assuming that you take the initiative to ask for the referral, and assuming that you ask in the right way. For healthcare providers, what seems to be appropriate is sending out a post-visit email asking that the patient keep the provider top of mind and to please make their friends and family aware of the practice should they be looking for a new provider.
Referrals can also come from other providers. Reach into your network and remind the other medical offices that you would appreciate their referrals and that you would be glad to do the same for them.
2. Networking – Hospital functions and CME events are ways to get to know more professionals in your network. People are more inclined to refer or recommend the people they are comfortable with and they need to get to know you in order to feel comfortable with you. Take the time to refresh your existing relationships as well as getting to know those distant relationships. It is okay to let others know that you desire to build your practice. If people don’t know this, they will only assume that you have a full patient load and are not looking for new patients.
3. Publish articles in local newsletters or publications – What is the area of medicine that you do better than anyone else – Identify your area of expertise and then own it in the marketplace. Local newspapers or community publications are usually looking for free content to publish. If you can be a regular contributor in their publication, the community starts to expect to see your articles consistently. You will become familiar to the community even though they may not have ever been a patient. When you become familiar, then people will be more comfortable recommending you to others.
4. Speaking engagements (professional and community) – You are probably already doing this but it still needs to be addressed. Just as in tip #3, speak on your area of expertise and demonstrate that you own that space. There is sometimes a misconception that a primary care provider doesn’t have anything to offer a specialist. We call that head trash. Everyone can learn something from everybody. What is it that the specialists need to learn from the primary care providers that can be of value to the specialist? Tailor your talk in a manner that helps to make the specialist the hero to his/her patients. They will remember you for it and will refer back to you for the patient complaints that are not relevant to their specialty.
5. Social Media – If you have not already done so, set up a business page on Facebook. Have someone in your office administrate this and add several posts per week. These posts should include healthcare tips, information about your practice and resharing of articles from reputable third party sources, such as the AMA, CDC, JAMA or even your local hospital. Encourage your existing patients to follow and re-share your posts to become known to a larger audience.
Implement any or all of these business development best practices to attract new patients. Let us know in the comment section below which of these make the most sense for you. (Pssst…. By doing so, you will make yourself known to others in our network and will be on your way to becoming top of mind).