Doctors and medical professionals undertake years of specialized training in order to practice, but this training often neglects one essential skill: business development.
According to a survey conducted by the American Medical Association, 45.8% of physicians owned their own practices in 2018. For solo practitioners and small practices, taking the time to plan how you’ll attract new patients and continue to develop your business is an important task, especially if your practice is new and you’re still building a client base.
If you’re wondering how to attract patients to a new clinic or you want to expand your established client roster, start by taking stock of your current strengths and weaknesses so you can tailor your medical practice growth strategies accordingly. Once you understand what you’re already doing well and what areas you can improve upon, you can determine your goals. For new clinics, expanding your client base is often the primary goal.
Having a clear idea of your business goals and how you’ll achieve them will help you secure additional financing if you need to apply for funding to support your growth strategies. Some lenders will ask for a detailed plan for how you intend to use your funding to ensure you’ve done your research and will be able to pay back the loan. Before you make a plan to grow, consider the following:
- Can your practice handle an expansion, or is it already working at full capacity? If you’re at full capacity, hiring new staff may be necessary to help you grow.
- Do you have the resources and systems in place to handle growth, or do you need to invest in new technology or equipment to help you manage the increased workload?
- How will you ensure your current patients will still receive top-notch care while you focus on growth?
The exact nature of your growth strategy will depend on your field of specialty. Because the services offered and the way patients engage with each type of clinic varies widely, how to attract patients to a new clinic will differ for physical therapists, dentists, general physicians, psychiatrists, and every medical specialty.
10 Medical Practice Growth Strategies
From adding new services to boosting your marketing and advertising efforts, there are a number of ways medical practices can attract patients to a new clinic. The following medical practice growth strategies can be adapted and tailored to each medical specialty.
1. Focus on retaining existing patients by adopting a patient-centric approach to care
The most important thing for any growing medical practice is to reduce turnover and increase retention by ensuring that your clinic is providing the best possible care to your existing patients. Adopting a patient-centric approach to care can help you provide the best possible patient experience. There are many ways to put your patients first, such as:
- Deploying new software that will streamline appointment booking and check-in
- Redesigning your office to provide a more comfortable experience
- Hiring more staff to minimize wait times or offer more services
- Recording and remembering patient preferences and histories
- Following up after appointments
- Sending reminders about upcoming appointments, billing, and other administrative items
If you don’t have the cash on hand to support these retention strategies, short-term funding like merchant cash advances and other alternative lending options can provide the working capital you need to ensure you offer a top-notch patient experience from check-in to billing. With a simpler application and faster approvals, you can get the funding you need from an online lender like Greenbox Capital® in as little as 1 business day.
2. Hire the staff you need to support your growth goals
Competent, friendly, and compassionate staff make all the difference when it comes to patient satisfaction.
If possible, hiring should happen before you start to grow so that your existing staff are able to handle their workload without risking any reduction in treatment quality. Think carefully about what kind of staff you might need to hire and ensure that any new hires align with the growth goals you’ve set.
- Do you spend more hours than you’d like on paperwork and other administrative matters? Consider hiring an office administrator so you can focus on patient care.
- Do you refer more treatments to other practitioners than you’d like? Consider hiring another practitioner so you can keep these patients at your practice instead of sending them to another.
Hiring before you grow means that you may not have the cash on hand to cover another employee’s salary or wages until you’ve reached your growth goal. Alternative funding can provide the infusion of cash you need to hire and get growing without waiting weeks or months for the SBA or a bank to process your application.
3. Survey your clients for deeper insights
The more you understand your clients, the better you can serve them and the easier it will be to attract new patients. Conducting surveys can help you understand:
- Why new patients choose your clinic over another. Ask when new patients check in or include a question in your intake paperwork so you can double down on what’s working or boost your efforts on underperforming channels.
- How your patients felt about their experience at your clinic. Post-treatment surveys will help you identify what your team is doing well and what you can improve so you can set effective goals and target your growth efforts accordingly.
4. Update your software
Slow or outdated technology can be a security risk as well as huge hindrance to your day-to-day operations, leading to increased patient wait times and causing headaches for your staff and clientele. The right software can help your team stay organized and offer top-notch care, whether you invest in a new patient database or software to make administrative tasks like billing, appointment scheduling, or internal workflow as easy and efficient as possible.
Purchasing and integrating new software often requires an investment of time and capital. If you don’t have the working capital you need to invest in new software, merchant cash advances or other alternative lending options can help you access the funding you need to upgrade your tech and enable more growth.
Learn more about merchant cash advances.
5. Make sure new patients can find you online
Your website and other online profiles on sites like Google, Google Maps, and WebMD provide information about your practice that will help prospective patients understand your services, get to know you and any other practitioners at your clinic, and stay up to date on news and any other changes. You can even offer online booking and bill payment options to improve the patient experience for your existing clients and make administrative tasks easier for patients and your staff
Whether you’re starting from scratch or updating an existing site, building a strong online experience takes technical expertise and a strong understanding of user experience best practices. Don’t be afraid to hire a marketing agency to help build a user-friendly website that is easy to find and navigate. Small business funding like a merchant cash advance can help supply the infusion of working capital you need to build or update your website.
6. Encourage patients to leave reviews—and actually listen
According to PatientPop, nearly 70% of people consider a positive online reputation to be important when choosing a healthcare provider. Online reviews contributed to 59% of people’s decision-making when choosing a doctor, dentist, or other healthcare provider, yet fewer than half of providers actively ask for patient feedback.
Responding to both positive and negative reviews shows that you care about your patient satisfaction, which can send strong positive signals to prospective patients and help you stand out from other local competitors. Even negative reviews can be good for your business if they are handled properly—even though more than half of patients say their negative feedback was not addressed by the practice in question, the PatientPop survey found that patient satisfaction nearly doubled when a practice responds to a negative review.
7. Invest in marketing beyond word-of-mouth referrals
Many practices rely on patient referrals as their primary source of new clients. Engaging in other marketing strategies such as direct mail, social media marketing, targeted advertising, and email marketing, can help you reach and engage a new audience of potential patients.
Expanding your overall marketing strategy often requires an up-front investment of capital that new practices may not have on hand. If you need working capital to kickstart a new marketing strategy, alternative online lenders can help you access the funding you need to get your marketing plan off the ground, with easier qualification requirements and a simpler application than traditional lenders.
8. Offer additional services
Adding new services can help you to grow your practice by creating loyalty with your existing patients, earning more revenue, and attracting new patients.
If there are services you refer to other doctors often, these may be good services to consider adding to your practice, either by hiring a new practitioner or investing in new training. If you need to hire someone or purchase new equipment to fuel your expansion, short-term funding can help you finance these strategies, especially if you’re a newer practice.
9. Create a wellness referral network
If you aren’t able to hire a new practitioner or offer new services, developing a dedicated network of referring physicians can help you better serve your patients and help generate new clients for your practice.
10. Get involved in your community
Can your medical practice offer outreach to schools, businesses, and other organizations in your community? Educational seminars, screening or vaccine clinics, and other pop-up events can help you educate your local community, develop your reputation as a local expert, highlight key services, and introduce your practice to potential new patients. For example:
- Physicians can host vaccine clinics or volunteer as on-site medical care at local festivals.
- Physical therapists can offer short seminars at local businesses about the importance of ergonomics and a proper desk set up.
- Dentists can provide oral hygiene instruction to students in the local community.
- Optometrists can donate time and care to underserved populations or offer pediatric screenings at local schools.
- Practitioners in any specialty can sponsor sports teams, camps, or fundraising events such as races or other community events.
Getting ready to grow your medical practice
Whatever your growth strategy, it’s important that you have a clear idea of what resources are currently available to you and what resources might you need to acquire to support your growth.
Your medical practice may not have enough working capital on hand to support your growth strategies, especially if you’re a newer practice. Traditional lenders like the SBA and banks often consider medical businesses to be low risk thanks to their high earning potential, stable revenue, and strong net worth, but the application process can also last months with no guarantee of approval, and newer practices may still have trouble accessing funding from these sources.
As an alternative lender, Greenbox Capital® can approve more medical practice loans than traditional lenders, including loans for newer practices. Alternative lenders can also approve funding faster, often in as little as one business day.
Numerous forms of alternative business funding are available from direct online lenders, including merchant cash advances, business lines of credit, and more. For newer practices, shorter-term lending options like merchant cash advances can provide a quick infusion of working capital that will enable you to kickstart your growth strategies without devoting hours to completing your application and months to waiting for approval.
- “Growth Options for Your Medical Practice.” Nick Hernandez. Physicians Practice. February 28, 2018.
- “9 Strategies to Boost Your Medical Practice Marketing in 2020.” Rajat. Practice Tech Solutions. May 10, 2020.
- “The patient perspetive 2019: Online reputation survey.” PatientPop. April 4, 2019.