Summer is an ideal time to evaluate your brand’s marketing strategy and practice operations to ensure that you’ll be set for a busier flu season come Fall. Consumers are coming back to in-person care expecting a streamlined care experience with minimal wait.
Many urgent care centers welcomed a record-breaking number of new patients seeking COVID-19 testing services over the last year. Now that your clinic has had at least one touchpoint with those patients, it’s time to re-market to them to remind patients that you’re their friendly neighborhood convenient care center and offer traditional urgent care services as well - which they’ll likely be seeking this upcoming cold and flu season.
1. Offer convenient online scheduling
“We previously saw 20-25% of patients booking online prior to the height of the pandemic, then it grew to 75%,” says Phil Davis, COO of Physician One Urgent Care, “it’s locked in at 60% of patients booking ahead and our reporting shows that number is staying steady.”
Like many healthcare operators, Phil has also found that patients now have higher expectations for their care experience. A key way to differentiate yourself from nearby competitors is to deliver on a great patient experience that is simple, attractive, and intuitive. Patients should have multiple doors to find you and schedule their visit including your clinic website, an online marketplace like Solv, and other online directories like Google and Apple.
2. Address the bottlenecks in your workflow
Patients expect a frictionless experience from start-to-finish. When the clinic is delayed due to a slower provider or a member of the front desk staff taking a long time to decipher a patient’s handwriting on five pages of intake paperwork to enter into an EHR - patients notice.
Davis notes, “[Patients] love registering in advance and completing paperwork ahead of time to avoid any delays. Seeing a pen and paper on the counter when they arrive at the clinic can subconsciously indicate that there may be a delay in them receiving care at their visit and increase wait time.”
Digital registration and e-signed consent forms increase data integrity and reduce entry errors. In addition to a paperless registration process, patients should be able to sign themselves in on their mobile device to be checked-in and track their spot in line, not interacting with a paper sign in sheet.
Summer is also an ideal time to re-train staff on the softwares they use every day, and brush up on processes and procedures for common reasons for visits they may see in Fall and Winter when volumes are higher so your operations are as efficient as possible.
Re-iterate your brand’s tenets of customer service, best practices for communicating with patients when answering the phone, and cleanliness protocols with your front desk.
3. Evaluate your online presence
Patients want convenient, on-demand care, but they also factor in social proof when it comes to their healthcare. What do potential patients see when they visit your website, Google My Business page, Facebook, and Instagram?
Paid marketing may be beneficial for your marketing strategy, but many of our partners would agree that word of mouth is the #1 path to new patient acquisition.
Even if they are referred by friends or colleagues to your clinic, patients will check out your reviews on social channels - most commonly Google since that’s their go-to search engine. Make sure you have at least 3 online listings for patients to read reviews and any content you publish.
4. Put patient satisfaction at the forefront of all operations
Your waiting room, restrooms, exam rooms, and hallways should all look professional, friendly and clean. Patients often pass by the back office when being escorted to an exam room, so it is important to keep that area tidy as well. It is recommended to have hand sanitizer and tissues available in every room for the patient’s convenience.
Communication is key to promote high patient satisfaction, and this is especially true for prospective patients calling your clinic for more information before their visit - every interaction counts.
For those times when there is no way to avoid a long wait, have a script prepared for your front office staff to share with disgruntled patients that is empathetic and clear. It can also be helpful to send SMS messages to patients during long wait times to let them know that you appreciate their time and patients, and look forward to seeing them as soon as you can.
5. Leverage local community partnerships
There are many tips to grow your practice by creating a great patient experience to grow your word-of-mouth marketing, and more 5 star online reviews. Strategic partnerships are one more way to reach new patients and enhance your reputation in your local community. This will involve some outreach on your part - research your local hotels, schools (elementary, middle, high school, and universities), and sports teams (professional and little league) to find opportunities to build awareness and bring new patients through your doors.
Approach local organizations by showing them how you align with their values, the high quality care you provide, and how their members or visitors can benefit from having a go-to provider recommended to them.
Make sure to highlight the features your clinic has that are unique from your competitors.
- Are you in a great high traffic location? Tout the convenience in your messaging
- Do you have the most caring providers and staff in the business? Highlight them in social media posts so your future patients can get to know your team before they arrive.
Ready to level-up the patient experience at your practice?