Historically, many physicians have avoided “going digital.”. With no shortage of patients coming into the clinic and traditional methods of communication working fine, why bother complicating things?
Enter COVID-19. As patient volumes drop and financial pressures mount, [your] clinics need[s] convenient and scalable ways to reach both existing and new patients. Luckily, the answer lies in building your clinic's online and digital presence.
The following 5 tips are simple, low-cost steps your clinic can take today to help establish your digital presence.
1. Start a Facebook Business Page
14 million Canadians use Facebook every day. Starting a Facebook business page is an easy and effective way to begin establishing your clinic's online presence. Facebook can act as your clinic’s website, providing information such as your hours of operation and contact information.
The real power of Facebook however goes far beyond acting as your clinic’s website. Imagine being able to tell 1,000 of your patients about virtual appointments by posting a brief message to your Facebook page. Does that sound better than paying a receptionist to call all 1,000 of those patients? You can post important messages to a wide reach of patients with a single click of a button.
All these features are completely free and it only takes a few minutes to set-up. Head over to Facebook and set up your official clinic page.
Once you’re set up, get the word of your new page out to your patients by putting up posters in your clinic or telling patients about it the next time they call. The next time you need to reach your patients with important news, you’ll be thankful you got your page set up.
2. Gather Patient Emails
While a Facebook page works well for the mass-messaging of important information about your clinic, some information is better communicated directly. With instant access to our emails through smartphones, emails have become a widely accepted method of communication. Many people even prefer receiving an email as opposed to getting a phone call, especially for logistical information like appointment details.
EMR providers have created features that leverage email’s popularity. Features like automatic appointment reminders and pre-visit forms can reduce no-shows, improving the efficiency of the physician-patient encounter. Most EMRs also enable you to send mass emails to all patients for those big announcements.
So what's stopping physicians from using these features? Many clinics do not gather the patient’s email as part of their standard practice. Luckily, this is an easy problem to fix!
By adopting a policy for staff members to check if a patient has an email address in their profile at each clinic or virtual encounter, it won’t take long to build up a list of emails large enough to start utilizing those fancy features your EMR provider offers..
Additionally, if you don’t want to wait, an automated messaging campaign can gather email addresses from your patients more quickly. Sounds complicated? Don’t worry - when you sign-up with PurposeMed, our marketing experts can help you.
3. Claim Your Google Business Page
You have probably had patients that have diagnosed themselves using “Dr. Google”. Let’s face it, we live in an era where answers to our questions are at our fingertips and only a quick Google search away. However, patients use Google for more than checking their symptoms. They also use it to find you.
If you are actively recruiting new patients to your practice, having your clinic listed on Google is crucial. What may shock you however, it is still important even if your practice is full. Most people rely on Google Maps to get around! Even if it prevents one missed or late appointment due to someone getting lost or leaving their house too late, setting up a Google business page is a no-brainer.
4. Explore Digitally Enabled Workflow Processes
After collecting all of those patient emails, you can begin to improve your practice’s efficiency.
Setting up automatic appointment reminders is one of the easiest ways to reduce the “twiddling of your thumbs” because of no-shows. Most EMR providers can automatically send emails, text messages, or voice messages to patients prompting them to confirm or cancel their appointments.
By automating this process, your clinic staff can focus their energy on better serving patients in the clinic while you enjoy seeing a full slate of patients to see each day. If you want to take the technology a step further, you can look into having patients complete secure patient health history forms before their appointment, with the results automatically copying to the patient's medical record.
Finally, you can begin to offer virtual care appointments at your clinic. We may be a little biased, but this is a great way to improve access to care for your patients while at the same time improving the efficiency of your practice. We happen to know of a platform (PurposeMed.com) that does this well and is completely free to use.
5. Build a Website
If you’ve done the four previous steps and still haven’t had enough, you can look into having a website built for your clinic. A website can help advertise your clinic and enable features like the online booking of appointments for your patients.
Building a website is slightly more complicated than setting up a Google or Facebook page. While it is possible to do yourself, your best bet is to hire someone to build and manage it for you. You have enough on your plate caring for your patients and running your clinic. Let someone else manage the website for you.
PurposeMed supports physicians throughout their digital journey. Signing up gives you access to tailored 1-on-1 advice on implementing virtual care into your existing workflow and establishing your online presence. Physicians worry about enough, let us help you with the “tech stuff.”