Spring has sprung! Spring cleaning doesn’t just apply to your house and your garage, it can also apply directly to your ophthalmology practice. We’re not talking about dusting the furniture or cleaning out filing cabinets; we’re talking about assessing the habits in your office: behaviors or business patterns that are performed almost involuntarily. You’ll want to keep the good habits but also identify (and change) the bad habits that may be negatively shaping the way your patients perceive you. You may need to step out of your busy, day-to-day work routine in order to recognize your bad habits so they can be replaced with good ones.
We’ve assembled a list of 7 habits of successful practices that you can begin to ingrain into your practice’s daily, weekly and monthly routines.
7 Good Habits of Successful Ophthalmology Practices
- Selling During Consultations
Believe it or not, your staff needs to have sales skills in order to really persuade a potential patient to take action – especially for elective procedures. Staff within your office is fully aware that your practice has the best doctors, the best technology and the best results, but potential patients need to be informed of these facts. The consultation is not only a time to confirm a patient’s candidacy for a procedure; it is also the time for your staff to use sales training techniques to encourage a patient to take the next step.
Of course, you don’t want your staff to use pressure tactics or intimidation during this process. Instead, offer patient education. Establish a seamless consultation flow that keeps patients on the right path and provide tools to aid the decision-making process and increase conversions, such as brochures and flyers that patients can take home to discuss their options with loved ones.
Follow-up is also important to this process. It may take prospects weeks, months or even years to decide to have a procedure. Create a system and timeframe for how to stay in touch with patients through emails and phone calls.
- Providing Outstanding Patient Experience
The patient experience starts before a person ever steps foot into your practice. You need a good online and phone presence at all times. Prospective patients will be researching anything and everything about your practice – looking for positive and negative comments about your customer service.
- Phone calls to your practice will be scrutinized for hold times, irritating phone trees, unhelpful staff and more.
- Negative online reviews will create uncertainty about your practice’s reputation.
- Your physical office space must promote your professionalism and instill confidence in your patients.
It can be helpful to secret shop your practice to find out how your phone calls are being handled. You may also want to hire an external company to monitor your online reputation so you can quickly respond to any negative reviews and hopefully get them reversed or removed.
- Investing in Staff and Management
External ophthalmology recruitment firms can help you hire the right staff members to create a positive culture in your practice with people who are friendly, respectful and helpful. Resumes are only one part of this equation: experiment with giving job applicants aptitude, IQ or personality tests. This can help you get a better picture of the applicant’s personality, values, interests, skills and intelligence.
Continually audit your staff (even doctors and consultants) to confirm you are matching the right people with the right job functions. Ensure that any staff members that interact with patients are fully trained on know how to answer commonly asked questions. Empower your people to have a real stake in the overall success of your practice. Train them beyond their official roles and help them cross-sell with the power of suggestion.
- Utilizing Internal Marketing
Your internal office has valuable wall space to cross-sell your services with informative, professionally-designed posters and large screen TVs to feature educational videos or testimonials. Your internal staff can also be trained to cross-sell your services to existing patients in a manner that is not forced or pushy.
- Making External Marketing a Priority
Your website is the virtual equivalent of your brick and mortar location. It needs to be fast-loading, well organized and convey the right image to show patients you are the right choice. Examine your site to make sure it is:
- Easy to navigate
- Optimized to be viewed on small screens
- Interactive (live chat, online appointment scheduler, online self-evaluations, videos)
- Capturing lead information
- Search engine optimized
- Kept fresh with new content posted regularly
Online advertising through Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is a low-cost way to produce leads for your practice. Traditional advertising often averages a cost per lead of $400; PPC can produce a cost per lead of $100 or less. PPC advertising only works if you have a strategic plan, differentiate yourself from the competition, manage your campaigns, track the results and make changes when necessary.
Analyze your own market to determine what other forms of advertising will produce quality leads, such as traditional radio, internet radio, billboards, newspaper ads, emails, direct mail and more.
- Going Beyond Facebook
There are more than 200 online social media sites today…Facebook is just one of many. Your potential patients are out there researching your practice and forming an opinion of you even before they meet you in person. The more ubiquitous you are online, the more potential patients can’t help but notice you and dig deeper into what you offer. If you have no strong social media presence (such as online reviews) you will be invisible.
This digital landscape is always changing; constantly monitor what’s being said about your practice online so you can immediately respond to positive and negative reviews.
- Tracking Results
Track the results of your marketing efforts to know what is working, what isn’t working and what you need to change. Implement a system to track your phone calls, web visitors, walk-ins, lead sources and conversions. When you have solid data to look back on, you can begin to compare your current results to past results. Take into consideration external factors that may have a bearing on your results such as a bad economy, severe weather or holidays. Even if you absolutely love a certain campaign, you have to know when to cut the cord on campaigns that have worked in the past.
To be successful and grow your business, you must have certain good habits deep-rooted into the following practice areas:
- Staff’s mindset
- Online presence
- Patient flow
- Physical office space
- Patient communication
Successful elective surgery practices take time to analyze their personnel and processes, identify problem areas and make changes…then do it all over again. It’s all about creating a positive patient experience that makes patients want to choose you.
How to Start
Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration has helped hundreds of ophthalmology practices analyze their current methods and make positive changes that boost revenue. The Administrative Advantage MSO® is a Management Services Organization that gives ophthalmology practices access to marketing experts, sales training, recruitment companies and many more services to help your practice develop good habits for success. Under this MSO umbrella, members can save greatly on these services that have been pre-researched as excellent partners.
To learn more about how our MSO can help your practice, contact Advantage Healthcare Consulting today.