By Travis Schneider, founder and co-CEO, PatientPop.
Running an independent healthcare practice isn’t easy, and few practices have the resources or bandwidth to chase down late payments. While most patients want to pay their bills on time, it’s clear that many don’t – which leads to an unhealthy revenue cycle that can threaten a practice’s success and/or growth potential.
A 2019 report indicates that 22 percent of physician offices said that 10 percent or more of all patient accounts go to bad debt, which can take months or even years to recover.
For those practices that have trouble collecting timely patients, taking a closer look at the organization’s billing strategy can often reveal several opportunities to get paid faster. By evaluating current practices and asking the right questions, practices can make important changes that can improve the long-term financial health and success of their practice. If your practice is struggling to collect timely patient payments, here are the top three questions to consider:
How Does Your Healthcare Practice Handle Invoicing?
Postal mail is a nearly obsolete means of collecting payment. Thus, practices that use paper invoices sent via the U.S. postal service are less likely to receive timely payments. From delivery delays to misplaced bills or stamps, there are simply too many ways a well-meaning patient can get derailed when trying to make a payment. That’s why digital invoicing and online bill payments are the wave of the future – and savvy practices know, it not only improves revenue cycle metrics but can also enhance the patient experience.
The Patient Pop’s Patient Perspective Survey for 2021 reveals that more than 50 percent of patients prefer a digital experience when it comes to paying their bills. Digital, transparent invoicing and billing can support a healthcare practice’s patient retention strategy too.
According to the same survey, more than a third of patients (36.4 percent) have left a healthcare provider in the last two years — and many cited issues with costs or billing as a primary reason for making the switch. Acceptance of digital payments makes it fast and easy for patients to make their payments.
Every business today knows the usefulness of having an active online presence to reach out to people. Marketing your practice or hospital means learning some complex terms and jargons in order to increase your search engine ranking. Healthcare marketing will help to position your business as the right choice for your target audience. One of the first steps in boosting your website is optimizing an SEO agency for your healthcare website.
Search engine optimization(SEO) means optimizing your website for the top search engines like Google and Bing. If you’re a dentist, you want the term “dentist near me” to bring your name up first. SEO is a compelling marketing tactic that can bring more qualified clients and patients to your medical practice. There are a lot of organizations offering SEO services to their clients based on their requirement. If you are new to the online realm and looking for a good web host provider. Websites like MangoMatter UK can help you pick the best web host provider according to your needs. Here are a few advantages that can be obtained by contracting the service of an SEO company or agency:
(6 Benefits of Hiring an SEO Expert in Healthcare Marketing, Credit: Pexel)
The primary reason a practice or hospital would use targeted healthcare SEO is to boost your website ranking on search engines. When potential clients or visitors search a particular keyword in search engines, if your website appears on top. You are likely to drive more traffic to your site and gain possible conversions. Searchers trust Google because it is the world’s leading search engine. And as a byproduct of that, they trust your practice when it appears at the top.
If you are running a healthcare business, you’re going to have a lot of different considerations to keep in mind. One of the most crucial elements that you need to get right is marketing. Marketing will ensure that patients, clients, and customers are able to easily find your business and when they do, they’ll want to connect.
Let’s explore some of the key steps you can explore to guarantee this is the case and the action you must take.
It’s important to be aware that when a patient searches for a medical support option they are often scared or worried. That’s why they will want instant answers to their questions regarding the service you provide or the products that you offer. It’s important not to keep them waiting. One of the best ways to avoid this is with a chatbot that you can easily add to your business website. A platform like this will ensure that customers immediately feel as though they are being heard and taken care of.
In the past, most of the traffic to your site and other parts of the brand would be derived from devices such as a desktop computer. But time has moved on and now it’s far more likely that a customer will be searching for your business on their phone. This is particularly true for medical companies which are often local service businesses. They’ll want to find a doctor, clinic, or practice close by and that’s what you need to keep in mind when you are running your marketing campaign.
If you reach out to the right marketers, they will know how to ensure that your site is optimized for mobile use. This means that it will adapt and shift to ensure that it continues to operate regardless of what device a customer uses to view it.
What About SEO?
Regardless of whether you are running a DIY marketing campaign or hiring a professional company, it’s important to guarantee that SEO is approached the right way. Specifically, you need to think about the latest trends in SEO and how to find the right keywords for your business. Arguably, you should be looking at something like Google search console results. This will help you discover fresh keywords that you should be targeting.
While pharma companies have grown to become effective direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketers, hospital systems and other large providers lag behind the rest of the industry when it comes to creating highly efficient, measurable and accountable DTC marketing programs. Why?
First, they have never needed to compete historically. With light competition and reasonable levels of reimbursement for decades, everything was fine until the cost of healthcare began to spiral out of control. In response, payers began to push back by negotiating lower levels of reimbursement in-network. In addition, payers, including CMS, have denied claims creating losses and cash flow issues for many providers.
There is also a rapid rise of chronic conditions ranging from arthritis to diabetes to dementia. These chronic conditions are expensive to treat for healthcare providers. They are an even greater challenge to treat profitably in an environment of declining reimbursements.
At the same time, advances in medical treatment and care have extended life spans and placed additional burdens on our healthcare system, including the extraordinary cost of heroic and end-of-life care.
To help offset rising costs and declining reimbursements, large scale providers need more new patients to cover fixed costs. As a result, most of these providers have added DTC marketing to the mix. This usually takes the form of a website, some SEM and a little local advertising. Unfortunately, many any of these marketing tactics are often random acts of marketing without the marketing insights and strategy required to efficiently compete and effectively reach their target audience.
However, even when these marketing tactics produce a modicum of qualified leads, here is where the provider marketing model breaks down: attribution. Often, leads from marketing campaigns are funneled to the same phone number or web form. By aggregating these leads into one pool of potential new patients, it is virtually impossible to determine which marketing tactics produce the best results. It is therefore almost impossible to optimize marketing spending, which invariably persists with built in under performing media. The old advertising joke about only half of ads working no longer applies today with accountable media except in the case of healthcare provider DTC marketing. This needs to change.
An effective advertising and marketing plan for the head and neck surgeon can capitalize your diverse capabilities. Head and neck surgeon needs successful marketing strategies while strengthening and building their practice. With advertising and marketing, you can get the advantage of a widespread opportunity spectrum. The head and neck surgeons deal with disorders of tongue, jaw, neck, thyroid, parathyroid glands, throat/tonsils, salivary glands, oral cavity and face.
NextGenOMS.com – head and neck surgeon suggests working with an experienced surgeon for diagnostic and preventive care. A surgeon needs extensive training, clinical experience, and knowledge to treat a complex and simple oral cavity, throat, facial, pathologies and head and neck disorders. Along with your practice, you should promote your services to get new patients. Here are some marketing strategies that can help you in this field.
Do you think your expertise set you apart from others? Without promotion, it can be challenging to spread the news of your expertise. You have to figure out your brand and its uniqueness. Promote it on social media and design your clinic’s website. Facebook may help you to stay in touch with new and old patients.
It is essential to understand the marketing interpretations associated with patients. You must have a deep understanding of the requirements of target patients and answer them appropriately. Understand that you must have a connected relationship with patients to increase their satisfaction.
Prior to launching Webbed Marketing (the previous name of Fathom Columbus), founder Bill Balderaz worked with some of the largest publishers in the world to plan, execute and measure Internet marketing programs. He began working on search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising and link-building in 1998, prior to the launch of Google. He has spoken on Internet marketing topics at events sponsored by the Public Relations Society of America, the American Marketing Association and the National Fuel Funds Network. Bill holds a bachelor’s degree in public relations journalism from Bowling Green State University and an MBA from Franklin University.
Here, he discusses health IT trends, the future of wearables as he sees them and the consumerization of healthcare.
What are the biggest changes we will see in 2015 in terms of healthcare technology?
Hospitals and health systems across the country will be adopting or upgrading EHRs, telehealth capabilities, and mobile tools. Look for increased reliance on and more sophisticated use of data analytics, as well as individualized medicine, ‘doctor-less’ patient models, and quantification of population health via social media. Patients will take more control of their health.
Also look for integration. Patients have so many inputs: lab results, wearable data, fitness plans. Then they have outputs, newsletters, emails, patient portals. The smart money is on the technology to connect and simplify.
What is driving these changes?
At the consumer level, where patients are more informed and involved than ever, what some call the ‘democratized future’ of healthcare is bringing more accountability and transparency to both the methods and costs of care. The parallel needs to cut skyrocketing costs, increase access to care, improve quality of service, and encourage patient engagement are all factors contributing to the growing potential of health IT to transform the delivery and experience of healthcare at fundamental levels.
You work with healthcare systems across the country in a variety of markets. What trends are common to all hospitals and healthcare systems? What differences do you see?
In a change of pace, and in the spirit of patient engagement, the following graphic from Primacy speaks to the importance, and the need to engage patients online to educate them and bring them to a practice’s door.
According to Primacy, an award-winning agency known for creating digital experiences with impact: “Investing money in your hospital’s website can drive traffic online and to your door.”
Primacy analyzed the traffic and paid search activity of five hospitals during 2012 to see if any patterns emerged. It turns out some did. Take a look at the infographic below to see which clicks matter the most.