Do you take your patients for granted?
When I think about the absolute essentials of a thriving therapy practice. Three essentials come to mind:
- Remarkable patient experience
- Remarkable provider-patient relationships
- Remarkable profit margin
In all of these factors, relationships play a vital role. You might say its all about relationships.
Unfortunately in the hurried pace of healthcare sometimes therapists take patients for granted. Some therapists have allowed the minutiae of insurance demands and government regulations to crowd the most important predictor of practice success–positive patient relationships.
Therapists tend to focus their resources on getting new referrals rather than retaining current patients for life. Choosing where to invest your energy and time can be challenging, especially when it comes to marketing. It’s tempting to look beyond investing in the patient relationship right in front of you to a referral stream that’s “out there someplace”. In reality, every one of your patients has the potential to become a referral source.
Some of you may believe you already know what your patients want and that you deliver exceptional service. But have you ever asked them what they think of your scheduling process, your payment policies or their satisfaction with the care they received from your assistants?
A loyal patient is not made just through great therapy, though obviously, results do matter. It’s paying attention to the essential details that make patients’ entire experience at your clinic exceptional. In order for your clinic to stand out, you’ll need to strive to execute the practice essentials with every patient.
A loyal patient is not made just through great therapy outcomes, though obviously, results do matter. It’s paying attention to the essential details that make patients’ entire experience at your clinic exceptional. In order for your clinic to stand out from the competition, you’ll need to strive to execute the practice essentials with every patient.
The question is how do I do this with so many demands on my time?
Focus on the essentials
“The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials” -Lin Yutang
The way of an essentialist, as described by Greg McKeown in his bestseller Essentialism, is the relentless pursuit of less but better. It’s not about getting more things done but getting the right things done. Essentialism is about making hard choices to invest your time and energy in the activities that allow you to make your greatest contribution.
A practice owner who takes a disciplined approach to self-leadership is regularly stopping to ask,
- Am I investing in the most important activities?
- Which activities are vital few as opposed to the trivial many?
- How can I eliminate the trivial many from my daily operation?
- How can we do the vital few activities almost effortlessly?
Remarkable relationships are the lifeblood of any successful therapy practice. An exceptional provider-patient relationship is at the core of your patients having a remarkable experience at your clinic.
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What is patient relationship management?
Patient relationship management (PRM) is a vital component for creating remarkable patient experiences. By its very name, it is a system for managing relationships with your patients. In its simplest form, a PRM is a contact list, a method of communication and monitoring conversations towards specific goals. Click here to get Patient Lifecycle Marketing Guide
In the business world, a PRM it is commonly known as a customer relationship management system(CRM). For most businesses, their most valuable asset is their customers. They go to great lengths to know as much as possible about consumers needs, wants and dreams to increase sales. They have elaborate systems to communicate with customers at various stages of the buying cycle.
Traditionally, referring physicians have been therapists greatest ally. Many private practices still live and die by physician referrals. (A lot are dying by the way). Therapists are beginning to see the value of reaching out directly to prospective or former patients.
Numerous therapists are feeling intense competition for referrals and the need to diversify their new patient sources. Establishing relationships with people before they need therapy is becoming an avenue to generate a steady stream of patients.
If a therapy practice wants to grow through direct marketing, it soon becomes necessary to have a system set up to manage relationships. A PRM is the one central location where practice owners can maintain client information.
Who should use a PRM?
There are three fundamental ways to grow your practice:
- Schedule more new patients
- Improve patient retention
- Word of mouth referrals from satisfied patients
Any practice that wants to grow from the inside out can benefit from using a PRM system. Another way to think about the value of a PRM is to consider how it might be the answer to some of the challenges you face.
- Do you need a way to follow-up with interested prospects that haven’t made an appointment?
- Do you have patients drop out of their plan of care, never to be heard from again?
- Do you need a better process to onboard patients?
- Do you need to track and communicate with clients through the entire patient lifecycle?
If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, the odds are that your practice would benefit from a patient relationship management system. Click here to get Patient Lifecycle Marketing Guide
What PRM best fits me?
If you see the advantages of maintaining positive relationships through a PRM, then the next logical question is which PRM is the best for your situation.
The answer to this question depends on your practice’s stage of growth. Many practices start small and grow into more advanced communication systems. Here are three typical phases of practice expansion and uses of a PRM.
If you are starting a new practice or service, you can store your contacts in an Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet. You can manually send emails to different categories of clients through an email service like Gmail or Outlook. Conventional email programs work well with email lists that are under 500 recipients.
As contact lists get larger and diverse, simple systems begin to break down, and relationships become harder to maintain. You might be able to get by without a PRM, but growth stagnates.
Practices beyond the launch period seek to become more established by generating a steady stream of patients. They typically have databases of 500 to 1000 clients. They have been able to get by without a PRM but now have outgrown an improvised approach.
Prospects and patients are falling through the cracks because of lack of relevant communication. Free or inexpensive email service providers like MailChimp or ConvertKit are used to create mailing lists and autoresponders.
Some therapists use Hubspot’s 100% free CRM to take the plunge into a simple CRM that doesn’t require a lot of manual work. Other practice like Prosperworks CRM’s integration with Google’s Gmail and Gsuite.
Larger or multisite practices want to integrate their PRM with their electronic medical record system (EMR). They have databases greater than 1,000 and want their systems to run smoothly together.
Larger practices want to capitalize on automation and to set up simple, repeatable workflows across all their clinics. They see the value of segmenting their patient lists according to patient type and avoiding double entry.
Mature clinics typically have larger budgets for marketing and employees assigned to do the work. They often have a strong website and social media presence.
For a more expensive monthly fee, these companies provide practice owners a lot of control over the online patient relationship management process.
How does a PRM help grow your practice?
Providing remarkable patient experiences are at the heart of any successful therapy practice. A PRM will enhance your clients’ experience before, during and after they receive your services.
Provider-patient relationships strengthen through consistent, relevant communication. A robust PRM provides a systematic way to reach and engage with prospects and patients.
Without a PRM it is too easy to experience “patient churn” through no-shows or patient dropping out of their plan of care.
Optimized patient engagement helps to reactivate patients to new episodes of care. Staying top of mind with satisfied patients is more likely to produce word of mouth referrals.
Patient relationship management systems solve many of the communication challenges that large practices face by creating automated workflows. PRMs provide information on the status of every prospect based upon real-time interactions.
Perhaps, most important of all a modern PRM helps your entire team keep in touch with your patients’ to create remarkable patient experiences that people will come back for and talk about.
Paul Potter is a physical therapist and mentor who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, with his wife, who is also a therapist. They have four daughters. For more than 35 years he successfully managed his own private practice. He now shares his knowledge and experience through teaching and mentoring therapists who want to have their own practice.
He has authored On Fire: Ignite Your Passion with a Cash Therapy Practice and the Cash Practice From Scratch Course. His website PaulPotterpt.com is dedicated to helping therapists achieve professional and financial freedom. Connect with Paul on his website or on LinkedIn paulpotterpt. You can also get more free resources at CashPracticeFromScratch.com