Medical practices all over South Africa are struggling to reach their full potential. In this industry, we see practices in both affluent and lower-income areas struggle to consistently bring in new patients, and many of our clients don’t understand why that is.
Surely, if the location is right, and If you give excellent service at a fair price, your patients will refer people to you, and your practice will flourish? Unfortunately, that is not the case, and we see so many businesses fail because they rely on these principals for growth.
So, how do you get ahead in this day and age? How do you ensure that your medical practice can compete? Through years of helping practices grow and evolve, we have found commonalities among the top-performing medical practices in the country. These simple but useful tips can help you draw in new patients and grow your practice.
Not too long ago, patients were happy to visit the closest doctor or dentist purely out of convenience. Unfortunately, a recent survey found that most people are happy to go further to see a practitioner who will accommodate their unique needs. The significant factors that influence a patient’s decision on a practitioner are these:
- Online Reputation
So many practitioners are surprised that their Online Reputation impacts their business to this extent. Over 80% of patients will Google a practitioner and check their website before committing to even a phone call enquiry. When patients google your practice, what are they going to find? If the answer is ‘nothing’, you are losing patients to practices they can find online.
Search for all of your top competitors, and you’ll find them on the internet. To create a digital presence, you should start with a website and a Google MyBusiness listing. Having a Facebook page is also beneficial. Ask your patients to leave you reviews so that new, prospective patients can see how great you are too!
The most important thing that sets top-performing practices apart from the rest is the staff.
Trained staff offer your patients a much better experience. Anyone who answers the phone should be able to answer any questions a prospective patient may have. If they need to check things or if they can’t answer, you are losing patients to your competitors.
When someone calls in and asks a question, they’re looking for instant information. If your staff can’t give it to them, they will call someone else. Very often, practitioners assume that their patients will wait for a callback or an email – this is not the case. Most patients will contact multiple practices and are more likely to book an appointment with the practice that assisted them fastest.
So what do you need to teach your staff in order to get more patients? Look at what your patient FAQ’s are – they’re generally related to treatments and price – and start there. Your receptionist doesn’t need to quote patients for treatments over the phone, but she can give them a price range and let them know that they’ll get a more accurate quotation after a consultation. They need to be able to understand the treatment options you offer, enough to be able to convince a potential patient to come in.
Avily offers a comprehensive staff training service to practitioners across the world. We work with you and your staff to ensure that they’re able to handle patients enquiries and convert them into appointments.
Use an Agency
Creating an online presence is one thing, turning it into a lead generation tool is a whole other.
An online presence, with a website, reviews and social media should be a staple for any business. It’s a great foundation, but it’s not going to work on its own. That’s like opening a store and hoping enough people happen to walk in and buy something. But the store is located in a maze with a million other stores that sell exactly the same thing.
You have to actively market your practice online.
Marketing sounds daunting, and honestly, it is. Digital marketing platforms are tricky, and the smallest mistakes can be costly. This is why the top practitioners in South Africa use marketing agencies while they focus on running their businesses and perfecting their skills.
When you employ an agency, they become accountable for your expenditure – and they have to show you how they are providing you with a return on your marketing budget. Marketing firms like Avily have the knowledge and experience to set up and run your ad campaigns flawlessly. So you can keep doing what you do best while new patients stream into your practice.
A lot of practitioners are put off by the cost of hiring an agency, but at the end of the day, the money you spend with an agency is an investment in your practice – an investment with returns you can see monthly. Why not spend R2.00 to get R5.00 back?
Run a Business
Most medical professionals who own practices will define themselves as practitioners and not entrepreneurs. When, in fact, they are equal parts doctor and businessman.
Set aside time to focus on learning about commerce and the economics of your business. Identify its strengths and weaknesses, find opportunities for growth and diagnose possible threats.
You don’t need to do any formal courses or get specialized training – you can learn a lot from books, YouTube videos and podcasts. If you need any additional assistance, Avily consultants are happy to run an analysis on your business and provide feedback and suggestions for further growth.
Understand your Patient Journey
So, once your online reputation is up to scratch and your staff are adequately trained, you want to make sure that you’re using them to continuously bring in new patients. To do that, you need to identify and adapt your patient journey and ensure that prospective patients are finding the information you want them to find at every interaction. This infographic shows a standard patient journey for a medical practice and should help you to create and adapt your own. If you need assistance with this, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’ll map out your current patient journey and provide feedback on how you can improve it.