July 2020 CEATUS Chronicles: Flourishing During COVID
Does working from home inspire patients to make appointments?
We constantly monitor the market opportunities for our clients and have seen a very positive trend in recent weeks. Patients want elective (and some not so elective) procedures done NOW! Many of our clients who have heeded our advice are seeing significant increases in appointments, consultations and procedures. This trend is occurring across a variety of medical specialties, from ophthalmology to dentistry, plastic surgery to orthopedics.
Why It’s Happening
Why the misconception about trends in current market opportunities and practice growth? Simple. There is pervasive (and depressing) misinformation being disseminated that insists all patients are terrified to visit their doctor’s office right now. The information is inaccurate and is unnecessarily suffocating many practices. If the information was true, then, how would it be possible that numerous practices are scheduling more appointments in the time of COVID?
Why Are Patients Motivated to Have Treatments Now?
Many patients now feel it is an ideal time to make appointments and have procedures performed that they have been thinking of and/or meaning to do. It actually makes sense when you think about it. Now that everyone is working from home, people have more control over their schedules. The lack of a commute certainly gives them more free time – for some, a LOT more time – to get things done. The decrease in traffic, once they do get out on the road, is definitely a plus. And then there’s the fact that their social schedules are less crowded. If all of this weren’t motivating enough, working from home likely also makes any downtime or recovery period more manageable. They’re already at home, and if recovery isn’t too onerous, they may not even have to take time off of work – after all, their schedule is under their control and no one is going to see them anyway.
How to Leverage the Trend
With all of this in mind, now is a great time to contact patients who have expressed an interest in major procedures that typically require a time commitment. Of course, it’s also important to touch base with those who are due for anything from a regular checkup to a touch-up or ongoing treatments (Botox, etc.). And don’t forget those who had scheduled a procedure prior to the onset of COVID – all they might need is a little bit of attention and encouragement to bring them to your door.
For both elective and non-elective procedures, mine your data and look for patients who meet the criteria above. Look for those with specific procedure codes who have not been in for a while. In some cases, patients may qualify for recurring appointments such as Botox, teeth whitening, eye disease, physical therapy, etc. Any patient who has not been to visit your practice within the last year should get a call or an email from you reminding them of treatments they have expressed interest in or indicating the need for follow-up. Several excellent services are available that automatically mine patient data to determine which patients are overdue for an appointment or look for specific treatments or diagnosis codes. And of course, this is the perfect opportunity to make sure you communicate how safe your office is to return to.
If you don’t already have the mobile number and personal email of every patient and prospect that has contacted your office, this needs to change. During each and every call and appointment, your staff needs to review the patient’s record and check to ensure that both their personal email and mobile number are in your database.
Note that while you are upping your appointment volume, not all of the appointments will be in person. This is fine. Not only are virtual consults part of the new normal, they’re also another tool for you to leverage. By now everyone is accustomed to video calls through services like Zoom and Microsoft Teams – so take advantage of it!
What about skeptical patients? One of the best ways to get patients back into the office is to inform them of the protective measures you are taking. Notices should be posted on your practice website and sent out to patients via regular newsletters. A good digital marketing company will take care of this quickly! (CEATUS, of course!)
While you’re at it, make sure to let patients and prospects know about any new or upgraded services. Don’t have any or haven’t put them up on your website? Well, there’s no time like the present!
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