By AMBER WOJCEK
The new year is when business owners often start thinking critically about changes they want to see in the new year. This is the time to put into place new processes and technology to build revenue and value for your practice. While some practice managers are hesitant to change the status quo – whether due to costs or training – it's easier than ever to use technology to drastically impact your bottom line.
If you want to increase revenue for your practice in the new year, it’s vital to focus on retaining loyal patients, attracting new patients, and ensuring that both groups make and keep their appointments. These areas can all be improved with affordable technological enhancements.
What do patients want?
One healthcare consumer experience study found that 41 percent of patients would change providers due to a poor digital experience, and 1 in 5 have already switched for this reason. Consider the impact not only of lost patients, but of lost referrals – just for something as simple as not providing online statements.
The key to improving your patients’ experience is realizing that they aren’t comparing their experience at your office with other doctors. They’re comparing it to every other service they use. In other aspects of their lives, people can pay bills, make appointments, and get help from their phone’s internet browser. With nearly every other industry allowing self-service, on-demand assistance, why has medicine fallen so far behind?
Earn Loyalty with a Better Digital Experience
Making it easier for patients to make or pay for appointments on their own time means that they’ll be more likely to make them. Plus, by empowering patients to make, change, and cancel appointments online, you’ll be reducing the number of calls your office needs to handle, giving patients who are at your office more attention.
Consider updating your practice’s website to include a portal that patients can log into. Here are a few tasks your practice’s online portal should offer to attract new patients and retain existing ones:
- Appointment requests
- Account updates (name, address, phone number, and communication preferences)
- Online bill pay
- Cost estimator
- New patient forms
- Follow up requests
- Access to care notes
A new patient portal may seem like an expensive upgrade, but consider this: according to one study, the loss of a patient due to dissatisfaction can result in a lifetime loss of $200,000 in revenue. 1 in 5 Boomers and 43 percent of Millennials and Generation Xers are likely to change physicians in the next few years. By improving your technology now, you’ll be cutting the costs of losing patients in the long run.
Gain New Patients with Updated Phone Systems
While improving your patients’ digital experience will go a long way in improving their loyalty and engagement, don’t take your other communication outlets for granted. Phone calls remain as the top way that Boomers prefer to be communicated with by their doctors. Plus, over 70 percent of Millennials still like getting phone reminders and appointment alerts. However, that doesn’t mean that your phone system should remain unchanged.
It’s been shown that 60 percent of patients won’t stay on hold for more than a minute, and only 32 percent will call back. With a traditional phone system, you’re just losing these patients to your competition. By updating to a cloud or VoIP system, you can keep callers on the line with several features:
- Custom hold messages. These are shown to increase the time people are waiting to stay on hold and provide valuable updates.
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR). With caller input (such as saying “billing” or “appointments”) you’re routing calls to the correct party more quickly, providing better service and lessening the load on your reception team.
- Unlimited lines. By switching from a landline to a cloud service, your callers will never hear a busy signal and will be more likely to stay on the line.
- Online call portal. Find call history to return missed calls, dropped calls, or calls with vague messages.
- Practice integration. Connect your phone lines to your practice management software to record notes and update records automatically.
Meet Your Revenue Goals in 2020
Medical providers everywhere have more competition than ever for their patients’ attention. As technology makes other areas of life more streamlined, patients want to be empowered to have more control over their experience with medical practices. Simple advancements in your practice’s website and phone services can go a long way in getting ahead of your competition.
Make it easier for your patients to get the information they need and to communicate with you on the platform they prefer. You’ll see more appointments, keep a higher percentage of your patients, and earn more client recommendations by modernizing your practice.
Amber Wojcek is the marketing director for Vonix, an Orlando-based cloud communications provider. With a M.A. in Mass Communication from UCF, Amber studies and writes about trends in digital media and marketing for B2B businesses. To learn more about Vonix business phone solutions, including VoIP calling and software integrations, visit vonix.io or email firstname.lastname@example.org.