Over the past several months, healthcare organizations have been working together to address the challenges of caring for patients in the era of COVID-19.
When the number of acutely ill patients surged, the focus of the healthcare industry shifted to allocate limited resources by reducing or eliminating “non-essential” care. These dynamics had a major impact across the spectrum of practices—including primary care. As a result, a major concern has been that those with chronic medical conditions may not be receiving the routine care they need.
Fortunately, the time has come for the country to gradually open once again, giving you the opportunity to get your primary care practice back on track to better serve the patients who need your help. Applying the following four stages of patient acquisition can help you do it.
1. Awareness: Brand yourself.
Branding is important for all types of businesses, and your primary care practice is no exception. If you have an established brand, make the most of it. If you don’t, begin to form one—pronto. In both cases, recognize what tweaks may be needed in the COVID-19 era. In the current environment, patients need to know they’ll be safe when they walk through your door—and your branding is one way to communicate this.
2. Engagement and education: Differentiate yourself.
Stand out from the competition by showing how you’re doing business differently to make sure patients are safe and feel safe. Here are a few ways you can do it:
- Communicate safety updates to your patients. As the COVID-19 era has evolved, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has frequently updated information for healthcare professionals. As a healthcare provider, it’s critical that you remain updated on the most current guidance—including that specific to those practicing within ambulatory care settings—and let patients know how your practice is following it to help keep them safe.
- Integrate telemedicine into your practice. With the need to social distance, telemedicine use has become more popular in the era of COVID-19—and can be especially helpful to provide essential support for those with chronic conditions. By using various telehealth modalities, healthcare providers can offer numerous services to patients, including:
- Screening patients for symptoms of COVID-19.
- Providing low-risk urgent care for non-COVID-19 conditions.
- Providing coaching and support for patients managing chronic health conditions.
- Monitoring clinical signs of certain chronic medical conditions.
- Engaging in case management for patients who have difficulty accessing care.
- Following up with patients after hospitalization.
- Delivering advance care planning and counseling.
- Providing non-emergent care to residents in long-term care facilities.
3. Acquire new patients: Patients learn about you and visit.
There are two important aspects to this critical stage:
- Marketing to your current patients so they’ll know if you’re open and ready to resume in-person visits.
- Marketing to prospective patients in your area who haven’t heard from their primary care providers’ offices and may be looking for a new one.
Obviously, your outreach to each of these target audiences will look a little different. Since you have an established relationship with current patients, they need to know you care enough about them to not take their business for granted. Show them how important they are by staying connected and accessible to meet their needs. When you do, you’ll hopefully end up with happy patients who sing your praises to others. As you’ll see in the next stage, exceeding the expectations of current patients is a critical component of new patient acquisition.
Marketing to prospective patients will require a different and more precise approach—and may include things like data-driven digital advertising, high impact print advertising, social media advertising, and content marketing.
4. Upsell and inspire referrals: Current customers are your best advertisements.
In terms of marketing costs, you likely know that keeping patients is less expensive than acquiring new ones—which underscores the need to nurture those already within your practice. When you do, you get the win-win of satisfied customers who may also become ambassadors for your brand. A patient who is over-the-moon about your services and tells all their family and friends can become the referral magnet your practice needs.
At AMG Healthcare Marketing, we’re the experts when it comes to deploying the most effective strategies to help our clients apply the four stages of customer acquisition. Since we own the largest healthcare audience in Alabama through our own online sites and publications, this is especially true. With our unique insights into the local patient market, we can provide digital marketing solutions that will help you find the results you need.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help your practice, let’s talk.