How do you increase patient volume in a small practice?

It's time to answer the existential question facing all small medical practices: how do you increase patient volume?

7 months ago   •   9 min read

By Crawford Ifland
Table of contents

If there's one element that's vital to every healthcare practice, it's patient volume.

New patients are the lifeblood of nearly every healthcare practice.

Without a healthy pipeline of patient leads coming through your doors each month, it's hard – if not impossible – to hit your revenue targets, employ staff, and keep the doors open.

But if you run a small medical practice, the challenge is greater – how do you go about the Herculean task of increasing patient volume? How can you get more new patients if your practice is new or you're just starting out on your own?

A lack of appointments – or missed appointments – means lost revenue. And each potential patient who chooses another healthcare provider is a heavy blow. If you can't fill your schedule, you probably can't stay open very long.

But there are many ways to increase patient volume.

Whether you're looking to get your medical practice off the ground, or whether you're well-established but want to grow, this article will explore smart marketing techniques to attract more people to your practice and help you grow your patient volume.


Invest in a High-Quality Website

It's not just about aesthetics

Your healthcare practice website should look good, but making your website just about aesthetics is a critical mistake. If you want more patients, you need to invest in a high-quality website that both looks good and offers patients easy access to the vital health information they need.

Unfortunately, many healthcare websites fail at this task: they are either ugly but contain good information, or are beautiful but lack the health information and resources that prospects are looking for. Striking the right balance between having an informative healthcare website and having a beautiful healthcare website is a key challenge for every physician in 2021 and beyond.

Macbook Pro on Blue showing Unsplash website

The look and feel of your website still matters, though – especially when it comes to yourself as a physician. And even if your website is beautiful, maintaining it is extremely important, too – it should be up-to-date with your services, specials, and the latest information.

The best way to make potential patients feel at ease with your practice is to humanize yourself on your website – show them that you're not just a physician, but a caring, empathetic person with a deep desire to help others. Showcasing each physician prominently on your website not only helps new visitors feel comfortable and familiar with your practice, but it's great for SEO, too.

Make sure it's mobile-friendly

These days, most patient traffic comes from mobile devices, so your practice website absolutely must be mobile-friendly. Not only should it load quickly on mobile devices, but the information should be just as easy to find on mobile as it is on desktop. If your website isn't user-friendly, you're almost certainly missing out on easy opportunities to increase patient volume.

And if your practice website has enough traffic but is struggling to convert that traffic into leads, you may want to hire a conversion rate specialist. They can help you comb through your website and make adjustments that help lead to higher patient volume.

The Importance of SEO for Medical Practices

Healthcare Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a vital part of attracting more patients to your medical practice – and it all starts with your website.

8 out of 10 patients start their search for health care on Google, and fewer than 2% of patients ever click through to Page 2 of Google or beyond. If your website isn't optimized for SEO, chances are you're missing out on an easy opportunity for more patient volume.

Want to rank higher? Learn more about Healthcare SEO →

Consider a Patient Portal

Patient Portals are a great resource to offer on your website. With a portal, existing patients can access their medical records and find other relevant information about their visit. Portals put a patient's medical information in their own hands and help them take the next step.

Some portals even allow referring doctors to share patient information with the practice, which improves efficiencies and makes for a smoother experience. By putting a patient's health in their own hands, you're going a long way to improving satisfaction and ensuring patients are likely to return to your practice in the future.


Offer "Choose Your Own Adventure" Options on Your Website

A key way to increase patient volume is to get potential patients more engaged. A great way to do this is what we like to call "choose your own adventure" options on your practice website. These options include things like self-tests, where a patient can quickly find out if they might be a good candidate for a particular procedure.

Self-tests are an easy way for patients to engage with your practice without feeling like they're being "sold" to. It's a win-win: patients can learn more about their condition and discover potential options for treatment, while you receive their information in exchange. Patients feel empowered while your practice gets low-cost (or no-cost) leads that you can follow up on.

Our average client receives 250 leads each month via self-testsand for high-ticket procedures like LASIK or cosmetic surgery, that means a lot of potential revenue.

If you're going to offer self-tests for people who may not be ready to pull the trigger on booking a consultation yet, be sure to offer appointment self-scheduling for patients who are! Some potential patients search Google long before they find your practice. They've already done their research and know that they want to choose your practice – so don't make it harder than necessary for them to schedule an appointment!

call

For many medical practices, the scheduling process is far too cumbersome: submit your information. Wait for a callback. Play phone tag for days. Patients don't like that.

More and more, potential patients want easy ways to schedule an appointment – oftentimes, right from their phone. That means offering patients a variety of self-scheduling options and letting them make the choice.

For patients who prefer to schedule an appointment over the phone, they're welcome to call your office and do it the old-fashioned way. But it's important to offer self-scheduling options for younger generations who may want to take their health experience into their own hands.


Consider Your Marketing Campaigns

Are you neglecting paid advertising?

Want more patients? Don't be afraid to advertise your services! Healthcare advertising is an important aspect of running a thriving medical practice, but many physicians overlook it. It's tempting to think that "if we build it they will come", but all sorts of businesses need to advertise to attract customers.

Today's physician is no different. Healthcare providers still need to consider (and pay) customer acquisition costs.

Provided that you have the budget for it, advertising can be one of the fastest and most creative ways to get patients in the health care space.

Getting patients in the first place is the hard part – but keeping existing patients is one of the easiest ways to maintain patient volume. Once you've attracted a new patient, the hard work is done.

Related article: Medical Practice Marketing: What No One Is Talking About

Learn more about our Healthcare Advertising services →

Don't forget social media

Social media channels – both organic and paid – can be effective ways to increase patient volume, too. With nothing more than a Facebook page and a modest budget, a local practice can increase patient volume and grow revenue.

That's why social media marketing is a powerful force in helping smaller practices get more patients: it's relatively inexpensive, and you can target the right patients in very detailed ways. Social media is one of the best ways to increase patient volumes in a small practice.

Facebook page of an entrepreneur's social media on desktop and mobile.
Photo by Austin Distel / Unsplash

Make Pre-Registration & Patient Intake Smoother

Make patient intake forms great again

Nobody likes filling out forms in the waiting room of a doctor's office – it's inconvenient, time-consuming, confusing, and is frequently a reason that appointments run late.

If you're a provider looking to improve patient experience, why not offer patients a convenient way to fill out forms ahead of time?

Pre-registration and patient intake solutions let patients check-in for their appointment online and finish their paperwork beforehand, while providers get to streamline their front office operations and provide a better experience. In fact, nearly 80% of patients report wanting contactless healthcare options rather than archaic, paper-based processes. Giving patients the options they're looking for – including appointment self-scheduling and allowing intake forms to be completed online – goes a long way toward improving patient satisfaction and increasing patient volume.

iPhone 12 Calendar Part 5.

Don't forget to remember...

No-shows and forgotten appointments are devastating to smaller practices looking for ways to increase patient volume. Having a no-show policy helps in regaining lost revenue, but what about when patients forget?

If you want to reduce missed appointments, you need to remind patients that they have an appointment in the first place! Oftentimes, pre-registration and check-in software include text messaging features that can help you remind patients of their appointment times and reduce no-shows

And once you have a patient's information in a software suite, you can then re-engage them with follow-up reminders and encourage patients to write a review, etc (as it makes sense, of course.)


Collect More Patient Reviews for your Medical Practice

The importance of patient reviews

Speaking of patient reviews – a positive online reputation is a driving force in how search engines rank your healthcare practice.

Patient testimonials on your website are incredibly important, but having verified reviews from current patients on Google and other platforms can go a long way – both in improving your appearance in search results, but also in attracting other patients to your practice.

The importance of online reviews for medical practices cannot be overstated.

Most patients trust positive reviews as much as they would a recommendation from a friend or family member, so having a healthy review profile is a great way to get a steady stream of new patients visiting your medical practice.

Creating marketing assets to ask patients for reviews on review sites like Google, Healthgrades, and Yelp can go a long way: research suggests that 7 out of 10 patients would happily write a review for a business – if only the business would ask.

Related article: How to Get More Patient Reviews


Remember, Communication is Key

When all else fails, remember that communicating well is key to keeping existing patients and attracting new ones. These days, it's not enough to be a good physician: you need to communicate well to keep patients happy.

Though somewhat intangible, clear communication is one of the most important aspects of being an outstanding physician. Sadly, it's often one that physicians forget.

Medical practices that clearly and effectively communicate with their patients are likely to attract patients to their practice faster than ever before.

Why? Because word spreads.

Related article: From Bad LASIK Candidate to Brand Evangelist: A Patient’s Perspective

Consider Sponsorship

Sponsoring local events is one of many other creative ways to build brand awareness and let your community know that you are offering services. Plus, sponsorship of worthy causes in your community can help build community respect for your business. This is especially important if your practice is new to town and doesn't have much brand recognition yet.


Wrap up: How to Increase Patient Volume in a Small Practice

If you want to increase patient volume in a smaller medical practice, there are a lot of things you need to consider. Hopefully, we've shown a few creative, low-cost ways you can leverage the tools at your disposal to create a better patient experience and attract new patients to your practice.

Want to make yourself stand out in the healthcare space?

Our patient acquisition experts are here to help you with the strategies and tools you need to grow your practice. Contact us today to discover how you can increase patient volume, grow revenue, and build the practice of your dreams.

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