Growing a medical practice requires a specific set of strategies. But what works and what should you toss aside? Should you even do physician referral marketing or is it time to double down on patient reviews?
There’s no silver bullet, but one thing’s for sure – successful medical practices are leveraging many proven tactics and you can too! Let’s explore how to build and grow your practice in 2021, attract the right patients and increase patient volume.
How growing a practice used to work (you know, back then)
Growing a practice hasn’t always been so complicated, or at least so it seemed. Think back to your early days of medicine, perhaps the 80s, 90s or early 2000s.
You’re a medical specialist fresh out of school. You could hang your shingle up and quickly become crazy busy. Every physician was looking to refer patients, and there were plenty to go around within just a 20-mile radius of your new office. Hyper-fast patient and business growth was the norm for you and most of your specialist peers.
Fast forward a few decades and the landscape has drastically changed.
With hospitals buying up primary care physicians, the referrals are in shorter supply. Sure, as a specialist you can become a hospital employee, too, but you want to stay independent and control your own destiny. We get it…
…and we also know that you can no longer just open a practice and hope everyone shows up. That’s the 2021 reality.
Strategies to Grow Your Medical Practice in 2021 and Beyond
Despite the mountains of books on that have been written on the topic, growing your medical practice really comes down to three things:
When you put all three of these together, you end up creating a predictable, repeatable system to grow your medical practice.
Let’s dig in.
1. Treat Your Practice Like a Business
Growing your practice starts with the ability to nail the business basics.
And while revenues and profits and bottom lines are essential to any business—there is a different (and perhaps even more important) aspect when considering how to grow your medical practice. It’s really about growing to treat more patients in need.
So always think about setting up the “business” of your practice as a system to achieve that outcome.
Here are 5 things you need to do to in 2021 to run your medical practice more like a business:
- Create a process that generates predictable outcomes. By implementing measurable, repeatable, and predictable processes, you improve both your business model (become more efficient, effective, and productive) and your patient experience (reducing variations around treatments and procedures improves quality and decreases cost).
- Have measures in place. By measuring, reporting, and comparing the outcomes of your practice, you will be in position to continually improve patient care and overall health, decrease costs, and reduce staff burnout. Measuring things like timeliness and effectiveness of care, patient experience, call volume, and efficient use of tools and devices fosters improvement and adoption of best practices.
- Establish a good culture. It may be your practice, but you’re counting on a reliable and dependable staff to really make it all click. Medical practices with a strong organizational culture tend to be successful because they recognize employee performance, productivity, and engagement. A motivated team is one that’s empowered and inspired—something your patients notice and appreciate.
- Make good hires. You can’t have a good culture until you have a good team. And the importance of surrounding yourself with a staff that is not only skilled and talented, but empathetic and caring can be the difference in whether or not your practice is set up for sustained growth.
- Consider using the Predictive Index. If you feel like you’re losing good employees or struggling to find the right ones to begin with, talent optimization tools like the Predictive Index can help grow medical practices by better aligning your business and people strategies.
2. Determine Your Ideal Patient Profile
A key to growing your practice the right way is to make sure you’re treating more of the patients you like treating most!
And perhaps more importantly, those who need you the most and don’t yet realize it.
The sad reality is, there are a lot of people out there who the healthcare system has failed. They’ve all but given up and decided to live in pain or discomfort and simply power through whatever ails them. This huge patient population is a specialty practices’ biggest opportunity for growth.
They’re out there, and in many cases, they are your ideal patient.
Start by identifying your optimal patient profile by considering categories like:
- Family size
- Financial situation
- Means of communication
- Interests and values
After you know your ideal patient, simply begin reaching out to them with targeted and intentional marketing efforts that speak to their pain and how you can provide relief.
It will take some carefully-planned efforts, but you’ll position your practice for fast and long-term growth by cultivating a community of happy, satisfied, loyal patients.
BONUS: Create demand with marketing so they’re coming straight to you without referrals!
There are many proven effective healthcare marketing ideas that can help grow your practice—from a patient-centric website to a unique social media presence to video marketing.
However, regardless of how you choose to market your practice, always remember that it’s the message of your advertising that will drive your growth. Especially when targeting those who may feel like they’ve been overlooked and are in a hopeless situation!
When marketing to patients, make sure that your messaging does the following:
- Uses your patient’s words
- Solve the patient’s pain
- Is clear what pain you’re solving
- Has simple and direct calls-to action
When your ideal patient feels heard and understood, they take action. And your practice grows.
3. Attract the Right Patients with Referral Loops
Sometimes it’s just outstanding care that leads to positive word-of-mouth and patient referrals to friends and family. Sometimes it’s a more intentional marketing program seeking referrals from other physicians. Whatever the case, patient referrals can be among the most powerful ways to grow your practice.
How to drive patient referrals in 2021
Ultimately, most patient referrals occur through relationships—with your patients and your healthcare peers. By strategically cultivating these relationships, your patient referral program can often kick into autopilot and become a steady source of patient growth for your practice.
To increase your chances of referrals from current patients, be sure to:
- Provide great care
- Ensure your patient experience is top notch
- Hire a top-notch staff
- Establish a strong online presence
As we established earlier, referrals from other physicians don’t come as easy as they used to. However, that’s not an excuse to write it off completely.
To generate referrals from other physicians, you should continue:
- Advertising your practice
- Contacting and welcoming new doctors in your area
Keeping the referring doctor informed with:
- Thank you cards: ask the patient to write a thank you card in the office to their primary care physician and mail it for them
- Personalized letters: send a letter as the specialist to the primary care physician giving them an update on the patient
Are You Set Up for Growth in 2021 and Beyond?
Growing your medical practice in 2021 comes down to creating a purposeful machine that drives new patient appointments by having a sound business infrastructure, knowing your ideal patients and relating to their pain, and creating a sustainable referral system.
If you could use a little help in any or all of these areas, the TrackableMed team is here to help!