Working as a physician has never been more demanding, and with ever-increasing challenges, your time is valuable and likely scarce. Finding the hours to prioritize building patient census may be difficult while also striving to provide the best care to current patients and keep up with increasing administrative demands. For many physicians, figuring out how to increase patient census, deliver healthcare sales training and develop marketing materials is often last on the to-do list.

As healthcare marketing consultants, we have a deep understanding of the pressures faced by physicians in 2022. If you are snowed under with administrative demands, there’s little use in telling you how to increase patient numbers using complex and intensely time-consuming strategies. The best healthcare marketing consultants will help you achieve maximum results with the resources you have. The good news is, increasing patient census while also dealing with time constraints and administrative pressures is completely feasible. Below are our top 3 most efficient ways to increase patient census.

3 Easy Ways to Build Patient Census in Healthcare

1. Make Customer Service Your #1 Priority

Ensuring your team excel in customer service is the most effective and timeless strategy to build patient census. In any industry, treating clients well is vital, but as physicians it truly is more important than anything else. A person’s health is their most valued commodity, and when visiting a hospital or healthcare practice, patients often feel apprehensive, emotional or vulnerable. Therefore, finding a physician that can truly care and put their mind at ease is of utmost importance. If a patient has various options on their shortlist who can all provide the same service, the physician or practice they choose will ultimately be the one that can make them feel most at ease.

Think about the whole process from the perspective of your patients:

    • If they inquire and ask you what makes your practice stand out from others providing the same service, do you know what to say?
    • Is your waiting area warm, pleasant and welcoming or cold and sterile? 
    • Do your reception desk team offer a warm welcome to help patients feel immediately relaxed?
    • As a physician, do you strive to make a meaningful connection with each patient, even if the appointment time you have together is short?
    • Do you give your patients the opportunity to ask questions, making sure they leave with all the information they needed?
    • When patients leave, do you wish them a nice day and thank them for letting you take care of them?

Improving customer service needn’t be overly time-consuming, costly or demanding, because it truly is the small personal touches that make all the difference to patients. Implementing a short team meeting each week based on the principles of healthcare sales training can be sufficient. Set a simple goal each week (for example making sure to thank patients for their time as they leave), and feedback as a team the following week. 

2. Engage in Meaningful Public Relations.

Public relations are a powerful way to increase patient census, so why not position yourself as an authority in your field by booking a paid spot on your local morning show, or utilize the power of social media for a more cost-effective option? Asking patients to leave an online review is quick and easy, but can make the world of difference to prospective new patients. After all, any physician can talk about how amazing they are, but it means nothing if their patients don’t agree. Great online reviews are a powerful way to build trust and back up the impressive claims you make with your marketing efforts.

Though it can be tempting to adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” approach to negative feedback, being proactive in replying to all reviews is usually the best option. Acknowledging both good and bad feedback will portray your practice as one that truly values its patients’ input and strives to constantly improve their experience. Asking for reviews should always come hand-in-hand with effective healthcare sales training, because improved customer service = better reviews, and better reviews = more patients!

3. Create or Update Your Marketing Plan.

Good planning is the first steppingstone to any successful marketing campaign. A solid marketing plan does not need to be overly complex. Simply consider your vision, goals and mission, alongside your budget and target audience. Before spending money on marketing resources, make sure you are crystal clear on who you need to speak to and what you want to say to them. Once you know what you would like to achieve with your marketing efforts, think about what you can do to reach these goals. For example, if you want to increase patient census, you might create a direct mail piece informing potential patients of your core values, complemented by valuable patient reviews to build further trust in your care.

How can a Healthcare Marketing Consultant Help?

Working with a healthcare marketing consultant can help you develop a marketing plan that delivers maximum results with the time, energy and resources you have. As a physician, you did not go to medical school to become a marketer, and aren’t expected to be an expert. Your job is to care for your patients, helping them live the healthy lives they deserve. 

But for those patients to find you, you need excellent marketing and sales strategies. A healthcare marketing consultant specializing in your industry will help you identify your target audience and speak to them in a way that is consistent with your brand, voice and message. Arrange a consultation to discover how our SMCG healthcare marketing consultants can help you build patient census like never before with targeted marketing solutions and healthcare sales training.

Original Article Published in Texas Family Physician Q1 2020