To thrive in 2022, independent healthcare practices must satisfy patient demand for digital experiences. This means taking advantage of tools and strategies proven to drive patient acquisition and retention, while streamlining your front-office operations.
The challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic have had a lasting impact on both healthcare practices and patients. Practices have had to do more with less amidst the ever-changing pandemic landscape and resulting staffing shortages. Patients have come to expect that nearly everything can be accomplished via their mobile devices.
In a survey we conducted earlier this year, patients told us loud and clear that digital convenience is now a top priority when they search for and interact with a healthcare provider. We designed the 2022 practice growth checklist to help grow your business in the next year and beyond. As you review the checklist, consider any unchecked item an important opportunity to drive practice success in the new year.
Drive business with your practice website
Your healthcare practice website is a powerful business tool. It’s where you can make a positive first impression, convert visitors into new patients, and expand your practice’s digital reach. But, today’s healthcare consumers want more. Thankfully, your website can deliver.
Your website can serve as the hub for your practice operations, giving patients convenient, digital access to everything they need to do business with your practice.
First, for patients to first find you online, your site must be written, designed, and built for search engine optimization (SEO). This gives search engines good reason to find your site and surface pages that answer patient inquiries. In the short term, a forward SEO strategy will drive more website traffic; when paired with a high-performance website, it will increase new patient acquisition in the long term.
To score that positive first impression, your website needs a professional, appealing design with plenty of content that demonstrates why your practice is the best choice for prospective patients. From there, you should make it easy for site visitors to become new patients by incorporating website tools like online scheduling and web-to-text communications. Additional features like digital bill payment further meet patient needs, enhancing your retention strategy.
Here is what it takes to have a practice website that’s in great shape for your 2022 growth strategy.
Optimize your practice website for the best possible rankings in search results.
- Create clear, helpful titles on every web page, along with engaging meta descriptions, and URLs that answer patient search queries.
- Feature rich, descriptive content about your services, dedicating a single web page to each one.
- Make sure your practice website is designed to be mobile-responsive and can adapt to any browser size.
- Confirm that your web pages load quickly to minimize visitors abandoning your site due to slow load times.
Ensure your practice website conveys a professional, modern brand.
- Bring your practice to life with high-quality photos that showcase your office (interior and exterior), staff, and services.
- Feature positive testimonials that demonstrate a high level of patient satisfaction.
- Publish blog posts that establish your medical expertise and answer patients’ most common questions related to your specialty.
Implement a website strategy to convert visitors into patients.
- Include prominent calls to action (CTAs) that influence patients to book an appointment.
- Offer online scheduling via your website, making it easy for patients to schedule or request a visit.
- Be sure your phone number is featured in text, so patients can call your practice with a single click.
- Give patients the option to connect with you via text messaging directly from your website.
Make your website the hub of your practice operations.
- Create a positive, informative experience when people arrive at your website.
- Offer patients a variety of ways to contact your practice right from your website, most notably on your site homepage.
- Implement convenient patient self-service opportunities, such as online booking, digital registration, and patient payments.
Maintain a positive, influential, online reputation
Internet reviews have become today’s version of the traditional word-of-mouth recommendation — and at a much larger scale. In fact, 71 percent of patients say reading online reviews is their very first step when searching for a new doctor, according to Software Advice. More importantly, what patients find during their search can either drive preference or lead them to look elsewhere. According to PatientPop research, 69 percent of patients say they won’t consider a healthcare provider with an average star rating of lower than 4 out of 5 stars.
Healthcare practices that fail to invest time and resources into boosting their online reputation risk losing patients to practices that do. Here’s a checklist of tried-and-true strategies to enhance your practice’s reputation online.
Take ownership of your profiles on healthcare, business, and directory websites.
- Claim each professional profile on every website that lists your practice and providers.
- Ensure your contact information (name, office address, phone number, and website URL) and business hours are correct on each profile.
- Optimize each profile with detailed content about you and your practice. Include high-quality photos of your team and facilities.
Claim and audit your practice’s Google My Business (GMB) listing.
- Claim and verify your listing with Google.
- Add or confirm your office location, business hours, and specialty to ensure those details show up in filtered searches.
- Update your GMB listing with new photos, direct links to your website, and detailed content about your practice.
- Add a few questions and answers to your Google business profile’s “Questions & answers” section.
- Enable appointment booking through your GMB listing.
- Create relevant Google Posts every month to share news or drive appointments.
Proactively manage your online reputation.
- Ask each patient for feedback after their visit — preferably with a simple, automated online survey.
- Monitor any online patient comments, feedback, or reviews on a daily basis.
- Reply to negative reviews swiftly and respectfully, and offer to resolve any issues directly with patients offline.
- Thank reviewers who give positive feedback and add positive patient testimonials to your practice website.
Modernize the patient experience
Practice growth isn’t just about acquiring new patients. It’s also about keeping current patients satisfied and coming back, visit after visit. That’s why a patient retention strategy is a key element of your practice growth plan.
Patient satisfaction is a measure of your patient’s overall experience: what happens within your practice walls, as well as before and after visits. A positive personal experience and connection with your care team are important, but today’s patients also want the kind of digital access they find in every other corner of the consumer experience.
PatientPop research reveals that most patients prefer a digital experience for five key interactions with practices: scheduling an appointment, filling out registration and other forms, accessing their health records, asking the provider a question, and paying their bill.
Practices that can deliver the ideal combination of personal connection and digital convenience give patients more options, insight, and control over their health journey — leading to greater long-term satisfaction. Here’s what it takes to deliver the modern, accessible experience today’s patients prefer.
Offer patients online scheduling.
- Give patients the opportunity to book or request an appointment via your practice website, 24/7.
- Enable online appointment requests via Google and other business listing websites that offer the functionality.
Send appointment reminders to reduce no-shows and meet patient preference.
- Send automated appointment reminders via email and two-way text messaging.
- Enable patients to confirm, cancel, or reschedule their appointments digitally.
Offer patients text messaging to connect and communicate easily with your practice.
- Give patients a “call-to-text” option: upon calling your practice, patients receive a prompt to send a text message instead.
- Use a secure text messaging platform for patients to request an appointment and get questions answered.
Provide telehealth options.
- Offer patients the option to meet you virtually for certain visit types, reducing wait times and patient no-shows.
- Create a seamless telehealth experience by sending patients a unique video link that requires no software download or login to attend an appointment.
Accept digital patient payments.
- Create and send digital invoices to patients via email or text message.
- Encourage patients to pay their bill online, which reduces time to payment.
Streamline front office work
By implementing practice management technology, your staff will accomplish tasks with less manual administrative work. With fewer people needed to manage front-office tasks, your team can reallocate resources to other essential office functions — a huge plus amidst a nationwide staffing shortage.
Eliminating cumbersome manual work and creating office efficiencies can also improve patient satisfaction. Once your staff has modern tools to streamline processes, they have more time to connect with patients who walk in the door — and have a lesser chance of burnout. Use the list below as a guide to streamline your front-office workload.
Empower your front office staff to save time and accomplish tasks with less work.
- Send automated appointment reminders to patients and reduce phone work for your staff.
- Send digital registration and intake forms before appointments, optimizing convenience for staff and patients.
- Use digital patient payment to send invoices. This reduces your paper workload, delivery time, and expedites patient payment.
Track business performance metrics
After implementing tactics for practice success, it is critical to keep a pulse on performance. Armed with data, healthcare practices can determine what is working and what needs to be modified. Checking key stats help inform important business decisions and drive practice growth over time.
Set goals and track metrics to help refine your practice success strategy.
- Establish key performance indicators — such as appointment volume, new patient visits, and patient review sentiment — to help gauge practice success.
- Set reasonable growth targets by month, quarter, or season.
- Monitor performance data and refine strategy on an ongoing basis.
What should you do next?
1. Schedule a free PatientPop demo.
2. Measure your practice’s online performance using our free scanner.
3. Download a PDF version of the healthcare provider’s practice growth checklist for 2022.