In private practice we get price shoppers on the phone and it is up to our front desk to turn the phone call into an appointment. Though it rarely happens, it can be a challenge for my staff because I have never given a free hearing exam. In my earlier posts I went over some pros and cons of being a preferred provider which can work for or against an appointment being placed. If the caller feels they are getting a benefit through the insurance or the services we provide, they will make an appointment most of the time. If there is no value from the patient’s perspective they will go to an office that offers free testing.
I was reading an article from Kevin Pho’s blog (he is an MD with more primary doctor information but sometimes offers information from patient’s points of view). One patient’s blog struck me on the value she would get for her $20 co-pay. It basically came down to knowledge. Are our patients leaving our offices more educated than when they first came in? In my case I would say yes, but only if we can obtain information from them, such as a name and address to send information to them and ultimately have them make an appointment. In a future blog I will be tackling issues of how you or the front desk should handle potential patient phone calls. But for argument’s sake, let’s say the patient has already made the appointment. How are you communicating with them now? Is your office sending out the case history ahead of time? Are you mailing, emailing or having them download it from your website? We have recently started including a “what to expect” letter in our welcome packet. This includes not only what the patient should expect from us, but what we will expect from the patient. This takes some of the unknown away from the patient’s perspective. Some offices include a short bio of office personnel so they have a feeling that they know everyone in the office before they meet them. We guide people to our website or Facebook page for this.
Testing is another area where you can outshine your competitor. Only do tests that are needed. We have a policy not to do OAE testing on those over 65 since most do not have emissions at older ages or if the tympanograms show a middle ear dysfunction. But this type of testing can help tremendously to document the site of lesion and few private practices conduct this type of testing. Outline how you are different and what the patient gains by seeing you. Put this in a “thank you” packet with communication strategies to have patients take home with them. Find different ways to brand yourself as different and how they are smarter for coming into see you!