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See More Patients and Make More Money in 2021

Topic: See More Patients and Make More Money in 2021

2020 was not kind to the physician bottom line. The American Hospital Association estimates that hospitals lost $200 billion between March and June. Those revenue declines translated to furloughs and layoffs for doctors and other healthcare workers. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says healthcare unemployment stands at 4.1%, down from 6.6% in July.

But relief is in sight. As of writing this, there are three viable COVID-19 vaccines. It may take up to a year, however, for immunizations to reach the general population. Physicians and healthcare systems looking to change their economic outlook for next year need to be proactive. Proactivity begins with communication.

Patients don’t know what you don’t tell them. For example, have you (or your employer’s marketing department) told them that you’re open again? Have you explained the added precautions you’re taking to prevent COVID-19 transmission? Have you informed patients about the risks of forgoing routine care? If you haven’t, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that patients aren’t scheduling.

Practice growth and recovery in 2021 will require physicians to improve their patient communication efforts. Physicians should make the following efforts to bring patients back to their practices in the new year.

Early in the pandemic, EM physicians across the country were wondering where all the heart attacks had gone. Likely, it wasn’t that they stopped, but rather patients were afraid to come to the hospital for treatment due to fear of contracting COVID-19. Though we now know more about the virus and how to contain it, it’s probable that many Americans are forgoing medical care to avoid catching coronavirus. This is despite the fact that hospitals and medical practices have implemented added infection control measures.

Patients need reassurance. That means communicating (and possibly over-communicating) with them to let them know what your practice is doing to mitigate COVID-19 risk. The key to effective patient communication is meeting patients where they’re at, meaning communicating with them in ways they’re familiar with. This will vary from specialty to specialty. For example, an obstetrician will have a younger patient base than a vascular surgeon. Therefore, the OB may have more success communicating with their patients digitally, and the vascular surgeon may do better with the phone.

Establish the average age of your patient base. Think a bit about how people in this age cohort tend to communicate. Then, begin forming a patient retention strategy using one or several of the methods that follow.

Topic Discussed: See More Patients and Make More Money in 2021

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