Have you started your direct primary care practice, but are struggling to get patients in to fill your panel? That is ok! All businesses have highs and lows and the initial momentum from starting and getting some press eventually wears off. Now it's time to really dig into the details of how to grow your practice so that it is sustainable for you allows your to focus on patients (the reason you got into DPC) rather than marketing.
1. Educate - Save money, peace of mind, better care
While those of us in DPC recognize the huge benefit of this new care model, it is still very new for many patients and they need education on its value. This needs to be communicated to them on the front page and clearly marked on your website! The average person will spend less than 15 seconds on your website. This means quickly addressing the concerns that a patient searching for a primary care doctor likely has, such as: can I get an appointment now, how much will it cost, can you treat my symptoms, etc. By answering these questions clearly and up-front, you get the patient to feel like they are on the right track and will spend more time on your website to learn more and potentially sign up.. as long as it's easy to do so. Which brings us to point number two.
2. Remove friction - sign up and schedule appointments online
It is incredibly important that there be as little friction as possible from the point when a patient thinks, "maybe I should try this" to actually signing up. Precious seconds between those two points could be the difference between a lost lead and a new patient. The biggest source of friction in this process is often the phone. People are less likely to make calls than they used to and even if they were to call to sign up and schedule an appointment, those precious seconds can easily turn to minutes and to hours if no one is immediately available. Think about the competition here. Many people can turn to ZocDoc and schedule an appointment immediately. Make this process easier than ZocDoc. We are so convinced about the importance of frictionless scheduling that we built it as a core feature of our software and also made signing up for Akute Health to be as frictionless as possible. (Hint, just click the sign up button on our website :) ).
3. Referrals - encourage existing patients to tell their friends
As much as we love review sites and reading reviews for everything before purchasing it, nothing can replace a good old fashioned recommendation from a friend or family. Set up a referral program for your existing patients to refer their friends and family which benefits both parties in the short term, and you in the long term. For example, offer an Amazon gift card to both the referrer and the referee upon sign up, or offer one month free for both parties, or even waive the enrollment fee. Be creative and keep encouraging your patients to refer. As enticing as these benefits may sound to you, and even to your patients, they will forget about it just minutes after they hear it. If you remind them often enough (but not so often as to annoy them), they will eventually remember and tell their friends and family.
These are just a few tips to help you grow your practice. Remember that starting a business is hard and it will take time and patience, but you will get there!