If you flip a coin, the chance of landing on heads is the same as the statistical probability that the United States will enter a recession this year. In fact, about 50% of economists predict we’ll see a recession in the next 12 months.
As a specialty healthcare practice, you’re at risk of being impacted by a recession, especially if your revenue relies on elective treatments. An economic downturn means your patients have less money to spend on procedures their health insurance doesn’t cover, such as elective plastic surgery or beauty treatments. Some patients may choose to delay treatments they consider optional or too expensive — or completely reconsider having them at all. Potentially lower patient volumes would have an obvious financial impact on your practice.
Is Your Healthcare Practice Recession-Proof?
However, let’s consider the lipstick index. During the 2001 recession, Leonard Lauder of Estee Lauder coined the term “lipstick index” to describe the phenomenon of higher lipstick sales during times of hardship. In the 2010s, lipstick was replaced with nail polish, and more recently — with the introduction of mandatory face masks — mascara, but the principle remained the same: people reach for “affordable luxury” in times of economic uncertainty.
With 59% of the US population saying they think the economy is in a recession, will consumers still turn to cosmetics for that feel-good factor? Time will tell.
Fortunately, you can avoid the downfalls of a recession — and even continue to grow — if you prepare for an economic downturn before it happens. Let’s discuss the three most important steps you can take this month to recession-proof your practice.
Expand Your Patient Base
Typically, a recession decreases a country’s GDP by 2% and leads to unemployment and a smaller demand for goods and services. If 10% of your patients, for example, can no longer afford elective treatments, there’s a new hole in your business to fill. And the best way to fill it? Expand your patient base.
This expansion can come from targeting new patient demographics or offering new treatment options. However, you don’t want to market to any new demographic or offer a new treatment on a whim.
To expand strategically, dive into the data about why people are choosing certain treatments or providers in your field. Some key information to track down includes:
- Ensuring your patients are engaged and connected with your practice — and understanding how you are differentiating yourself in your market against your competitors.
- Whether there are new, more affordable payment options — including patient financing methods such as CareCredit — and how you could offer them to patients. Look for something that integrates with your system to optimize convenience.
- Complementary services and treatments that are popular, but not currently available at your office.
Once you have a list of new ways to expand your offerings, it’s time to implement these changes. Update your team on any new patient demographics and services. From there, you can brainstorm new ways to advertise to different patient pools or to market new services to current patients.
When marketing, don’t underestimate the power of partnering with other healthcare providers for referrals and collaborations. A plastic surgeon, for example, may find that a dermatologist down the road can refer a lot of patients.
Along with exploring new services and patient demographics, don’t overlook new ways to host appointments. One of the most effective mediums is telemedicine and virtual consultations. In fact, 86% of patients are satisfied when attending a telehealth appointment. Remember, patients are looking for ways that you make their healthcare more convenient and personalized.
Not only that, an American Medical Association (AMA) survey found that 85% of physicians who utilize telemedicine are happy with the outcome as well. AMA does point out that the right telehealth technology is vital to the smooth integration of this new appointment format, so be sure to choose a solution that can help your practice adopt best practices for telehealth and create a long-term strategy for overall success.
Strengthen Your Online Presence
The best place to reach new patient demographics or market a new treatment is the internet — if you already have a strong online presence. There’s a difference in talking about a new treatment on a Facebook page with 1,000 followers than one with only 50 followers. Similarly, a blog that ranks on page one for “plastic surgeon near me” will bring in more business than one ranking on page three.
Strengthening your online presence can take time, which is why it’s important to focus on presence-building efforts before a recession hits. To elevate your brand online, consider:
- Optimizing your website for search engines (SEO).
- Sharing educational content through videos on social media and blog posts on your website.
- Creating a plan to engage with ideal patients on social media.
If doing all three sounds overwhelming, pick one and focus your efforts there. One high-converting channel is better than three that don’t perform.
What do boosting your online presence and expanding your patient base have in common? Both require the right technology. Fortunately, there are a few key technologies that can enhance your online presence and expand your patient base.
The two most important are a specialty-specific electronic health records (EHR) system and an easy-to-use practice management software. Bonus points if you can find a system with both, as an integrated PM and EHR system can improve a specialty practice’s overall speed and efficiency.
With the right EHR and PM system, you automate part of the administrative work so your team can focus on big picture thinking, marketing, and improving the patient experience.
After upgrading their EHR and PM, other healthcare practices have experienced:
- 10 fewer minutes of administrative work per patient
- Workflow efficiencies that enhanced practice growth
- A 45% increase in patient conversions
Optimize Your Finances
To recession-proof your practice, your team needs to invest more energy into marketing and discovering new patient demographics to reach. To free up time and headspace, optimize your finances and some of the back-end administrative work.
To do this, here are a few technology-powered solutions:
- Establish a robust financial plan and budget. If you’re using the right EHR, it should provide some data and projections for your financial plan.
- Reduce unnecessary expenses and administrative work by automating a larger percentage of your workflow.
- Consider new ways to improve payment processing, such as an EHR and payment processor that are integrated.
Your practice’s future doesn’t solely depend on how many hours you hustle or the business strategies that made you successful in the past. Instead, it relies upon amplifying your hard work with the right technologies and data-driven decisions.
These technologies and decisions ensure your practice is prepared for uncertain economic times and that your team has the time and data to adapt to any economic situation. If you’re reading this and don’t feel like your tech stack is up to the challenge, it’s time to take action. Now is the time to invest in your technology, team, and future.
Nextech’s EHR and practice management software is built to help specialty providers simplify everything — including the business side of their practice — so they can focus on delivering excellent patient care. Get a free demo to see how Nextech can help recession-proof your practice.