As the weather warms up it’s a chance to relax and recuperate. However, if you’ve recently started in private practice or are contemplating starting soon, you’re probably more occupied with thinking about how to grow your practice and see more patients.
It is a common misconception that when you set up a private practice, patients will be there ready and waiting for you to see. I’m not quite sure why this is the general consensus as it’s obvious really that patients are not sitting waiting in a queue for the moment you decide to start private work. To set up a well-established practice you first need to market yourself and let patients know you are ready and waiting to see them. Patient recommendations will then follow, increasing your footfall further.
Marketing of course takes time, but there are some basic considerations that you should think about from the outset.
Don’t be a “jack of all trades, master of none”
Decide what your clinical area of expertise is going to be and market yourself as such. If you are seen as a “jack of all trades”, eg an orthopaedic surgeon who covers knees, hips and foot and ankle, you are less likely to receive referrals than if you market yourself as an expert in knees only. It’s easy to think initially that you will receive more referrals if you do more things, however patients searching online and referrers will want to see someone who declares themselves as specialising in their particular issue.
Let people know about your area of expertise
It’s important that you market yourself as an expert in your particular field in a consistent message. All website, social media, mailing and promotional content should be consistent with your niche area, not a mixed message about what you treat and are good at.
Commit time to actively networking
What do I mean by this? Rather than just turning up at an event and taking the easy option of speaking only to the people standing near you, go out of your way to ask the organiser of the meeting to introduce you to people who are likely to actively refer to you.
Use all resources at your disposal to find new contacts including LinkedIn, and arrange to meet people in person. In the post Covid world, physical meetings have been significantly scaled back so you will make a great impression on someone if you meet in person, and this will pay off.
Ask them what they are looking for from a clinician in your area of expertise, so you give something back to them as well. Referrers are far more likely to recommend you over your colleagues if, for example, you provide clear ongoing patient care letters, or patients have a good experience with you, or if you are able to provide appointments in a timely fashion. Find out what they are looking for, and adapt your service to meet their needs. And ensure to follow up with them – how easy is it to go to a networking event, meet great new people and then never hear from them again. Follow up with a letter, text or phone call if needed to reconnect as much as is needed.
Look for opportunities to promote yourself locally
Is there a sports club who is looking for sponsorship? Is there are large company locally who would welcome an employee talk from you about employee wellness or health? Be clear about what your area of expertise is, who would benefit from learning more and target yourself accordingly.
Ensure you have the basics in place from the outset
If you have free time you need to spend this marketing – maybe dedicate a few hours EVERY week to do this. What you don’t want to be doing is worrying about how you’re going to administer your practice and whether your phone is being answered.
It is essential to get the basics in place from day one (or even before day one!), which includes a practice management software (PMS) system for your bookings, correspondence and billing, and someone to answer the phone.
If you select a good PMS system patients can book appointments themselves via your website (with an inbuilt link from your PMS), you can dictate letters directly into the system to be transcribed in real -time and invoices can be sent automatically. This is perfectly manageable yourself in the first instance and it may not be necessary to have a secretary on day one. However you do need to arrange for your phone to be answered as without this, patients will go elsewhere to a practice that does answer the phone.
If you would like more information about how MediOffice practice management software can help your practice please get in touch for more information and a free demo.