Lead management remains a problem area for many small to medium-sized practices. Whether due to time constraints or a lack of best practices, poor lead response times can cost a practice when it comes to gaining new patients. Consider the following statistics:
Do you know what time it is? It’s turkey time, people! (Apologies to the vegetarians out there). But yes, Thanksgiving is upon us once again. As per tradition, this is the time of year when we consider the things for which we are most thankful (and spend a whole day eating ourselves into food comas and then the brave or mad among us choose to go out the next day for an annual shopping event with its own casualty rate). And this Thanksgiving there are certainly a lot of things to be thankful for—we aren’t locked up in our houses like we were last year, COVID vaccines are widely available, new episodes of Dexter are back on Showtime, and it looks like we will be able to openly travel this holiday season (and on that note, if you do travel, please be kind to airline personnel).
The rise of social media has moved a lot of human interaction online, allowing us to reach each other without having ever met. For Ophthalmology practices, this means referrals are no longer something that come mostly from other ophthalmologists/physicians, as they traditionally have in the past. The truth is the vast majority of Ophthalmology practices are already aware that they need to be using social media and are currently using it. The question is whether or not they are using it properly.
Roughly a year and a half ago, the sudden spread of COVID-19 quickly turned telehealth solutions into necessary tools for specialty practice as they struggled to continue providing care when lockdowns and forced closures were put in place. While the widespread use of connected care was already on the horizon, there is no doubt that the current levels of telehealth adoption were heavily accelerated by the pandemic. This began when a large number of states enacted temporary waivers of preexisting HIPAA rules and other regulations to allow for faster and easier use of telehealth solutions during the public health emergency.
It is safe to say that 2020 was a difficult year for a lot of people, financially and otherwise. When it comes to increased financial responsibility for healthcare, it was an especially difficult year for most patients. According to new research, the average consumer spent considerably more money on healthcare than they did only a few short years ago. This trend of increased financial burden on patients is likely going to continue in 2021 and will be further exacerbated by higher healthcare prices.
Encounters with difficult patients, while often unpleasant, are something providers and staff have to learn to deal with as part of their jobs. And, sadly, they tend to pop up fairly regularly. In fact, one study found that 30 percent of patient encounters were rated as “difficult” by responding physician practices. These sorts of negative interactions can be frustrating and demoralizing for everyone at your practice. However, with the right methods, you can reduce the stress caused by difficult patients and improve the outcomes of these uncomfortable situations.
Recently, online healthcare review site Healthgrades analyzed 2.4 million online reviews to create their 2020 Patient Sentiment Report. This report reinforces something that most people in healthcare already know, which is that online reviews can either make or break a healthcare practice. It also discovered that 75 percent of healthcare reviews mention quality of care and that “a patient’s opinion of a doctor can be dramatically influenced by the overall experience of the visit and interactions with office staff.” This means that, in order to encourage patients to leave positive reviews, there are additional things your practice needs to do beyond simply providing quality care (though that is still important, too).
According to a recent study, the number of in-person outpatient visits declined by nearly 60 percent in 2020. While there has been a small rebound in the first quarter of 2021, some practices are still struggling to get their patient volumes back to pre-pandemic levels. Telehealth has been able to help fill some of the gaps, but it is simply not enough to consider things as being back to “business as usual.” As vaccines roll out, however, now is a golden opportunity to begin new efforts to invite patients to return to in-person care as well as to invite new patients to your practice.