There are many ways to add value to your practice. Chief among them, of course, is expanding the roster of procedures your practice offers to patients. Adding new services and procedures will do much more for you than offering discount programs, filling prescriptions in-house and setting up electronic and Web-access for your patients so that they have an easier time monitoring their health (though these methods are also helpful).
Which Services to Offer?
There are a wide variety of different services and specialties that you can add to your roster. Most of the time the procedures and services you choose should be related at least tangentially to what you already offer. This means that if you are a dermatologist, for example, you will bring in more patients by adding cosmetic (or aesthetic) procedures to your roster than you would by suddenly setting up an in-house cardiologist.
That said, when looking at the different procedures, practices, etc. that are out there, you will get a lot more mileage from alternative and holistic therapies and practices than you will from traditional Western medicine. It is the worst kept secret in the medical community that alternative and holistic therapies are very helpful for some patients and they are growing more popular every day–particularly those that are aesthetic in nature.
Considerations You Must Take Into Account
Before you expand your practice to include aesthetic, alternative and/or holistic treatments, you will want to make sure that your practice is set up to process those patients correctly. While some of these treatments will be covered by your patients’ insurance carriers, many of them will not. It is important that you are set up to process insurance and billing properly. Make sure your billing software is up to date and can accommodate the “mixed bag” of treatments a patient is billed for so that their billing is accurate and nobody has to try to wrestle with an insurance company or spend a lot of money fixing an overcharge or collecting what’s due on something that was undercharged.
It is also important, says Michael Sculley of Practice Suite, that you don’t rush into any hiring decisions when you decide to expand your practice. Sculley talks about the different criteria you must consider when deciding who to hire to help manage your patient load now that your service roster has expanded.
Getting the Word Out
Once you have added your new services to your practice’s lineup, you need to figure out how best to market and advertise those services to your community.
The simplest method, of course, is word of mouth. Telling your patients about the expanded services roster can pique their interest and, even if they don’t require any of your new additions themselves, they will likely tell their friends and family about them.
If you are uncomfortable simply telling your patients (for many health care practitioners it feels too much like upselling from their after school retail job days) there are other, subtler methods of telling your patients about your new treatments and procedures. A simple flier, for example, placed in exam rooms and waiting lobbies alerts patients to changes in your offerings without your having to say a word.
Of course, you’ll also want to engage in some “regular” marketing as well: advertising online and off, using direct mail, utilizing social media, etc.
Finding the Mone
It is important that you not spend all of your marketing budget on promoting your new services. You need to go slowly and build that part of your practice over time. The amount of money you spend to market your expanded practice should take up no more than 10% of your overall marketing budget for the first year your practice offers the procedures. After that year is done, you can simply incorporate the mention of your expansion into your regular marketing campaigns.
In today’s market, patients simply do not want to have to travel from doctor to doctor to get the treatment they need for what ails them. The more options you can present within your own practice, the happier your patients will be…and the more your profit margin will grow!