A steady increase in patients is something many medical practitioners hope to see, but oftentimes, the rise in business includes a number of issues that smaller practices are unready for. As you look to gain clients and grow your business, taking a few considerations into account and planning ahead can help you mitigate problems in the future.
Increasing Your Workforce
While you may already employ a number of physicians and nurses, you need to pay attention to each employees’ workloads. If the daily schedule starts to overwhelm your colleagues, consider hiring another professional. Bringing on a specialist, such as an obstetrician-gynecologist, could also help your practice see a rise in client numbers. If you foresee an issue with paying new physicians, consider obtaining loans for doctors from a medical lending company focused on the financing needs of healthcare professionals. Commercial loans can help you increase operational cash flow to help cover the increased payroll.
Expanding Your Current Location
With a growth in business, you may find more patients than chairs in your waiting room and longer lines for the communal bathroom. This may cause you to look into redesigning your property’s layout and infrastructure, or even examine the potential to move your practice to another location. If you decide to renovate your current office and create more space for both physicians and patients, you may want to take into account client comfort, including aspects like increased parking since as more and more patients will be arriving for scheduled appointments.
Maintaining Patient Relations
Most consumers prefer individualized care, so private medical practices can be an alluring alternative to large hospitals. Even if your business is expanding, treating your clients as if it’s still a small practice will go a long way. You may even consider creating a company website that patients can log on to in order to contact their preferred physician, schedule appointments, manage payments and keep up with current events. This facet of your business may be out of the scope of your abilities, but there are a number of professional companies that will design the website for you. Researching medical practice financing options may help you to find the extra funds needed for compensation.
With a larger client list, and possibly a new website, your practice is going to need dependable technology to keep the business running smoothly. Ensuring your servers have the ability to securely store patient information will help you to avoid technological problems that can hamper business and deter clients from returning.
When practice managers are navigating their busy days, many find themselves hard-pressed to complete all of the tasks on their to-do list. Fortunately, there are a few ways that busy business owners and managers can save time during the work day.
For instance, Entrepreneur magazine notes one of the most important steps is having clear and definite long-term goals and objectives. That way, practice managers can know how every part of their day affects each goal. If a problem or issue that crops up during the day has no effect on a long-term objective, it may be something that the practice manager can delegate to another employee.
If there is an issue that affects the goals of the practice, the manager should make sure that they know all of the details from the get-go. From the start, that requires an open working atmosphere, where staffers and employees feel that they can report to their manager without fearing the consequences. If the manager is fully informed, they will know the immediacy of the issue and how to address it.
The Shoeboxed Blog recommends that busy business owners take a small portion out of their day to completely unplug and step away from distractions. Whether that means turning of cell phones and disconnecting from the internet or simply stepping into a different room and enjoying a little peace and quiet, practice managers would do well to take some time out to focus purely on their work or organize their thoughts.
Independent medical practices function along the same lines as many other small business ventures. Accordingly, if practice managers let customer service fall behind as a priority, the business will suffer, no matter how high the quality of the care offered by the physicians and staffers in the office. Getting employees into the habit of offering excellent customer service will undoubtedly be beneficial for everyone in the office.
Find out what the customer wants
In any business, getting consumer input into the way the company is run is an excellent way to improve service interactions. What do patients want to see in the medical office that isn’t currently present? How do they feel about the attitudes of front desk staffers, or even the “bedside manner” of physicians? Getting input through a quick post-visit survey or displaying a complaints and suggestions box is a great way to discern how patients feel about the way they were treated during their time in the office.
Find the source
If patients do have a complaint about their visit, it’s important for practice managers to follow up with them and make sure they are specific about their issues. Were they upset with the care they received, or was it the behavior of the staffers and caregivers?
If they have a complaint about a specific employee, monitor other customer complaints to see if this individual’s name continues to crop up as a problem. If the individual seems to have a problem with delivering satisfactory customer service, it may be time for the practice manager to discuss the issue with them and ask them to alter their behavior in the workplace.
Commit to a better attitude
Just like deciding to commit to going to the gym, staying active in the pursuit of excellent customer service is a daily endeavor. If practice managers truly want to improve the way their office deals with patients, they should stay on top of promoting best practices among staffers.
While running an independent medical practice, managing physicians often find that their days seem to fly by in a flurry of meetings and paperwork. At the end of the day, many practice managers are frustrated by what they weren’t able to get done during office hours.
Fortunately, Inc magazine recently released a bevy of tips on how small business owners – including medical practice owners and managers – can increase their efficiency levels in the office.
Make Sure All Meetings Are Productive
Often, it can seem as though staffers and physicians go into a meeting for a purpose, but fail to accomplish anything due to a meandering subject matter and individual agendas. According to Inc. Magazine, if practice managers establish a clear group-approved agenda for the meeting, it is easier to curb discussions that are off-topic and hold a meeting that accomplishes the intended purpose.
Cut Off Distracting Media
In the course of running a small business, many owners and managers find that email, texting, social media and the internet in general can prove to be very distracting. One way to avoid losing valuable time during the workday is to disable these elements and remove them from realm of distracting possibility. Putting personal cell phones on airplane mode and setting firewalls on the internet can help managers (and staffers) to maintain high levels of efficiency for the entire day.
Address Social Butterflies In The Office
Occasionally, practice managers discover that they have hired or taken on an employee who prioritizes socializing above getting work done. Before making any rash decisions, practice managers should find a moment to take these individuals aside and let them know that their behavior is affecting the overall production levels of the workplace. If the behavior persists, it may be time to take more serious action.
Take Periodic Breaks
Although it may seem that the workday is packed and breaks are a luxury, according to Inc magazine, periodic breaks can actually increase efficiency and productivity. If practice managers take a short break every hour or few hours to walk around the office and get a little light exercise, they may find that the increased blood flow helps their thinking and reasoning process. Furthermore, walking away from an issue for a moment often helps business owners to find new and innovative ideas about how to deal with it.
What is a doctor’s office without patients? Although practice managers might put their all into creating a perfect medical office, if they don’t have patients, it’s all for naught.
According to Entrepreneur magazine, until a business has its first few customers willing to pay for its products and services, it is not truly in operation. Not only do patients provide the income for a small medical practice, but they also help practice managers to gauge anything that might be missing or in need of an update around the office. Clients help to provide important feedback for any business.
Determine A Market
Entrepreneur notes that the first step to securing a few customers is determining who is most likely to be coming into the practice. Chiropractors can mostly expect older patients, for example, and gynecologists are pandering to women. Finding locations around town that are frequented by people in the practice’s target demographic and handing out fliers or taking out an advertisement in relevant local newspapers or magazines can help practice managers to get their name out to individuals who might be interested.
During medical school and residency, many physicians made lasting friendships and formed contacts with individuals who are in the same field or a similar profession. If practice managers contact these individuals and ask for advice, they might be able to find out where other physicians and small practices are getting their customers and learn important tricks of the trade.
Clients who are looking for a new medical practice want to be sure they’re in good hands. Even if a medical practice has only just opened its doors, practice managers should make sure that every caller is greeted with a cheerful, welcoming and competent receptionist, and during the off-hours, a sophisticated and professional answering machine message. Customer service is key, as is making patients feel as though they’ve come to the right place.
Make An Online Presence
In the early days of a new medical practice, business can be slow. In order to boost traffic to the practice’s website, physicians could try writing a blog about the daily activities of the office and letting clients get a peek at what goes on in the medical world. Although it should still be professional, it’s also a great way to let potential patients know that the doctors are people too, and that they care about their patients’ well-being.
Using social media to market a medical practice is something that most practice managers know how to do – but what about social media marketing that steps outside the box?
Using Facebook and Twitter as promotional tools is well-covered ground, but many practice managers are not familiar with the marketing possibilities embedded in Pinterest. Although at first glance the site seems like a haven for fashion, food and DIY ideas, it can also be an excellent place for businesses to post pictures of highlighted employees, office renovations and local newspaper write-ups.
According to American Medical News, Pinterest is currently a dormant social medium for most practices. But those who have begun to tap its marketing capabilities have found it to be an extremely helpful way to build their brand and burnish their image, notes the source.
First of all, the service, like many other social media platforms, is completely free. It is also fairly simple to maintain, so asking an office staff member to update it a few times every day is not unreasonable. Finally, Pinterest, like Twitter and Tumblr, makes use of hashtags, which can help practice managers who offer a very specific service. For example, anyone who searches dentistry on the site could find pictures with links to different practices who use the tag.
The best way to ensure that a small medical practice survives despite the hardships associated with running a small business is to build a large base of patients who are loyal to the practice and the people who work there.
Building customer loyalty is an important part of maintaining staying power as a practice. In order for the practice to stay open for business, there should be multiple people out there who are willing to say that it’s the first place they go when they have a problem.
Make Them Feel Comfortable And Safe
When patients visit a doctor’s office, they are entrusting their health into the hands of everyone on the premises. In order for patients to continually return to a medical practice, they need to get the sense that the staffers are capable and that their physicians are going to put their health above all else. Therefore, practice managers should ensure that every patient feels like they are in good hands from the moment they step through the door.
Go Above And Beyond Expectations
Small practices are going to see patients from all walks of life, from low-income families to single businessmen. In order to make everyone feel as welcome as possible, practice managers, physicians and staffers should be one step ahead of meeting patients’ needs. Offering an alternate payment system to families who are struggling to afford their medical bills could be helpful, as could anticipating patients’ potential medical problems before they see them coming. Does the single businessman eat a lot of salty fast food? Instruct staffers to provide him with information regarding what his diet could do to his body if he doesn’t start to eat healthier.
Give The Best Quality Care Possible
First impressions only go so far. No matter how comfortable the waiting room of an office makes a patient feel, if they get sub-par care in the examining rooms, they are not going to return. To keep them coming back, practice managers should be sure that all of their physicians are ready to give the best care that they possibly can and are equipped with excellent bedside manners. Staffers should be capable and efficient, as the smallest mistake could put a patient’s health in jeopardy.
This content has been created by Bankers Healthcare Group. BHG is dedicated to helping arrange loans for doctors, physicians dentists and veterinarians looking to purchase new equipment, move into new facilities or grow their business in any other way.