There are several ways to attract and keep patients:
a) Publish online – It doesn’t have to be in a journal but could also simply be on your own website. It lets patients know how you think about different treatments. Patients would love to read case studies about other patients you might’ve seen. Several patients conduct at least basic online search before visiting a doctor or an ambulatory surgery center. What does your web presence (not just your website) reveal about you?
b) Bring a certain focus to your Center – e.g. a specialty differentiation. To attract higher quality patients, it’ll be good to focus on a specific area within your specialty. One ambulatory surgery center focuses on the highest volume of lower gastroenterology cases it does. Another focuses on EUS/ ERCP procedures. Yet another focuses on removing large polyps. It becomes easier to be known for 1 or 2 key things than be all things for all people.
c) Share your medical records with your patients just as you would with referring doctors – What if we trusted our patients more with medical information? Patients will appreciate what you did for them if they receive and see their own medical records. It also encourages 2-way communication.
d) Monitor health of patients using vitals that are out of range (e.g. very high BMI) and have your office give them a call to check on them. This reverses the scheduling process. You can also track when patients turn 50 and invite them for a colonoscopy (if you are GI-based center).
e) Use technology to standout. Encourage or give away remote monitoring equipment (e.g. to measure insulin, asthma, BP and so on) to select patients, capture their data regularly into their medical record and communicate proactively with them. Technology-enable your center from check-in to check-out and make the flow easy. They will talk to their families and friends about this.
All the above suggestions would make the ambulatory surgery center or medical practice standout amongst its patients – referrals usually follow.
A more interesting question however is to ask yourself if you simply want to increase patient volume for its own sake or increase it in a way that would increase reimbursements but not dramatically increase costs/ time spent. More on that topic in another post.
By Praveen Suthrum, President & Co-Founder, NextServices