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Updated: March 27th, 2020
Being a successful medical practitioner and a successful business owner are two separate things. Medical practice owners today need more than education and experience to operate a clinic. Figuring out how to grow a medical practice takes time and strategy.
Before you can experiment with different growth strategies, you need to determine your goals. Maybe you want to expand your services to bring in new patients, for example, increase your patient base by 20% within the next year, or improve your revenue? Clarifying your goals can help you create a more effective plan for how to grow your medical practice.
Keep in mind that your practice’s unique growth trajectory will depend on a number of factors, including your specialty, the services you offer, the area you practice in, your medical practice financing situation, and your current patient demographic.
If you’re ready to learn how to grow a medical practice, we’ve got you covered. These five tips can help you take your practice to the next level.
A good team is the driving force behind growing a successful medical practice. Hiring competent, compassionate staff won’t just help you retain current patients, it’ll also help you grow your patient base. You may find yourself understaffed at some point, but ideally, hiring should happen before you have so many patients that you compromise your care.
To ensure you’re maximizing hires, think about what your practice needs to grow. Consider which areas of the practice pose problems, and which parts of the business you want to expand. Making a list of daily frustrations and recurring issues can give you a better idea of what type of help you need.
For example, if you spend half of each day recording and organizing patient information, consider hiring an office administrator who can handle the paperwork. Or, if you want to add new services or treatments, focus on hiring a physician assistant who can help with patient consultations and procedures. The role you hire for depends on how you want to grow your medical practice, along with its needs and goals, but a good hire should do one of two things: facilitate operations or help improve overall patient care.
When you go through the hiring process, make sure you thoroughly vet and interview your candidates. It can be expensive to hire and train a new staff member, but you can minimize costs by ensuring the person you hire will add value long-term.
One of the best ways to grow your medical practice is to build a strong referral network. To do that, you need satisfied, happy patients who can speak to the quality of your care. And to get happy patients, you need to improve your patient experience.
Start by surveying your patients to find out what they enjoy about their treatments and what they might be missing. Patient feedback is crucial; it allows you to address areas that need improvement while continuing to invest in what works.
Focus on making the entire experience — from check-in to billing — easy and enjoyable for patients. Good experiences often come down to the details, like greeting patients when they come in, minimizing wait times, following up after appointments, and sending reminders about appointments and bills.
As you work to improve your care and customer service, take advantage of your current patients’ appreciation for your practice. Ask patients to write online reviews or provide a testimonial you can post on your website.
Peer reviews have power. According to a 2019 survey from PatientPop, nearly 70% of people consider a positive online reputation to be important when choosing a healthcare provider. Even negative reviews can be helpful if you address them. When a practice responds to a negative review, the rate of patient satisfaction nearly doubles, increasing 99%, according to the survey.
A referral program is another great way to incentivize people to spread the word about and help organically grow a medical practice. Current patients who get someone to sign up for an introductory appointment can get a gift card or discount on their next service or treatment.
Beyond providing excellent patient care, the services you offer are one of the easiest ways to stand out from the competition and help with how you grow your medical practice.
Consider whether there’s another product or service you could provide. Maybe there’s a popular new procedure people are seeking out or a specific technology that would expand your treatment options. Many dental practices now offer botox for jaw pain, for example, while physical therapy clinics offer light therapy for carpal tunnel and other types of joint pain.
Of course, it can be expensive to purchase new equipment or invest in staff training for new technology and treatments. However, expanding your offerings has the potential to pay dividends in the future. Giving your patients multiple service and treatment options can help you gain their loyalty, earn more revenue, and attract new clientele.
When you run a medical practice, you might be tempted to rely solely on word-of-mouth to grow your business. And though patient referrals are essential, it’s also important to carve out time for regular marketing as you consider how to grow a medical practice.
To develop an effective strategy, you need to get to know your patients better. Start by identifying your target patient population. Where do your patients live? How old are they? How often do they visit your practice? Do they work or care for their families? How do they spend their time? Answering these questions can help you tailor your marketing plan to align with the interests and habits of the patients you serve.
For instance, if the majority of your patients are in their 60s and 70s, mailers and phone calls may be a more effective marketing strategy than social media. On the other hand, if your patients span a wide range of ages and backgrounds, then you may need to take a multi-pronged approach to your distribution channels.
In general, when using marketing to grow your medical practice, it’s helpful to post on a couple different social media platforms, send email newsletters or follow-ups to patients, and optimize your website content for search. Focus on what sets your medical practice apart from similar businesses, whether it’s your flexible hours or personalized treatment options, then promote these things in your marketing.
Other smart ideas include partnering with local businesses to promote new patient specials, participating in community events, and investing in targeted advertising.
Ultimately, though, the best marketing strategy is the one that works for your practice. If certain methods don’t pan out, don’t be afraid to experiment with new strategies or double down on whatever yields the highest ROI.
Getting involved in your community can help you meet new potential patients and build trust with the people you serve.
Consider setting up an information table at a local farmers market, charity drive, or seasonal event, like a summer picnic or holiday concert. In addition to handing out business cards and brochures that detail your private practice services, consider offering free consultations for new sign-ups or discounts on introductory treatments.
It’s also a good idea as you consider how to grow a medical practice with community outreach to occasionally offer your services to the community pro bono. Call local schools, universities, clubs, and corporate offices to offer a free seminar on a health issue your practice deals with.
If you own an optometry practice, for example, you could visit a corporate office and give a 20-minute presentation on the importance of having your vision checked when you’re regularly staring at a computer. Or, if you have a physical therapy practice, try visiting a couple different sports teams at the university level to offer tips for preventing and recovering from injuries.
At the end of each session, take time to answer questions and hand out business cards or informational pamphlets tailor-made for the groups you’re talking to. You could even offer a limited sign-up special to the people in attendance to draw in new patients.
Offering your knowledge and time to the community puts you front of mind for future health issues or medical emergencies.
Learning how to grow a medical practice may seem daunting, but it’s doable. To grow your medical practice, you need to invest in a variety of different areas, including patient care, community involvement, marketing, and hiring. Keep in mind, though, that growth isn’t always linear. If certain strategies don’t work, keep experimenting.
Paige Smith is a Content Marketing Writer and Senior Contributing Writer at Funding Circle. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and specializes in writing about the intersection of business, finance, and tech. Paige has written for a number of B2B industry leaders, including fintech companies, small business lenders, and business credit resource sites.