Unlike most patients tied to specific insurers, private-pay consumers have a world of options when it comes to hearing care. They do their homework, they bring serious buying power, and much of the data they’re after — practice profiles, reviews, and more — is just a click away.
Here are four strategies for boosting the flow of private payers through your doors and into long-term relationships with your practice:
1. Find Your Differentiator
Generally, all hearing-care providers have access to the same technology, so how do you stand out from the rest of the players in your market? Brand yourself as the expert in your area who not only generously shares crucial hearing-health knowledge but is committed to delivering remarkable patient experiences:
Becoming your market’s trusted advisor in hearing care gives community members a go-to resource for any questions or concerns they have, which allows them an easy path to make informed decisions. Rather than associating you only with hearing-aid sales, prospects are able to see you as a credible source of information on issues affecting their or a loved one’s hearing health and wellness.
Providing a superior experience at every touch point helps create a patient for life, in turn spurring additional referrals from your existing patient base. Practices tend to invest most of their efforts in attracting new patients, but retaining their existing private payers by nurturing strong patient- provider relationships is much more cost-effective. Audigy’s proven Patients for Life program walks practices through every step of this important component of business success.
Remarkability vs. Mediocrity
Your competitors are most likely focused on technology and price. Keeping the focus instead on the patient, however, separates the remarkable from the mediocre.
With hearing needs as subjective and diverse as the people you serve, it’s important to keep the patient in the driver’s seat throughout the process, building an emotional tie-in with them. This will enable you to personalize a treatment plan based on their lifestyle and hearing preferences.
Educate them about how hearing works from a patient-friendly perspective, keeping in mind that people are, above all, seeking someone who will demonstrate that they understand what it’s like to live with hearing loss and can inspire confidence in their recommended personalized treatment.
2. Boost Your Visibility
Private-pay patients typically initiate their provider search online, making it critical that your website appears at the top of Google search results. Help make it happen with:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Organic — versus paid — search results depend on Google rankings that consider myriad factors from keyword usage, content originality, and spelling to mobile friendliness, site speed, links, and more that affect the user experience. SEO works to improve your site’s visibility by staying atop — and congruent with — Google’s algorithm. Online directories are another key to attracting targeted traffic to your website and ultimately to your practice. A well-rounded SEO program should include a listing service in its offerings.
Paid search also plays an important role in web-search results, providing the ability to target specific key words your patients are using and deliver specific content relevant to those searches. You can also target your local geographic area, ensuring you’re attracting more qualified patients within your own practice boundary. Another benefit: Paid search levels the playing field, helping you more easily compete with the major players in the hearing-care space and advertise alongside big-box stores and manufacturers.
Publishing topical and informative blog articles on a regular basis ties together important factors in differentiating and branding your practice. For one, it easily and effectively communicates your expertise to the community, helping you stand out as a reliable resource. It also supports your search-engine rankings, with Google potentially viewing your constantly updated content as more current and relevant than that of other websites. One of the best sources for potential topics? Your own patients, whose questions are timely, topical indicators of what folks want to know.
3. Grow and Manage Your Online Reviews
When patients find you online, do they like what they see? First impressions matter — especially when it comes to patients’ health and wellness — and that includes your online reviews. Having too few reviews, below-average or poor ratings, or negative comments can send prospects running to a competitor, but some simple steps can help turn that around.
First, focus on improving your online review program. Online reviews are one of the most efficient ways to attract new patients, because satisfied patients do your marketing for you. An easy way to start building more feedback is to simply ask your patients to review your services online. A stronger approach is to consider using an online review service to help.
It’s also important to monitor your reviews as they come in. Doing so will allow you to uncover any common complaints that can be addressed within the practice. It will also help you respond to any negative reviews in a positive and helpful manner. This will show that you care about the service you provide and are willing to correct any unpleasant experiences.
And remember: Don’t focus just on the negative reviews you might receive; it’s equally important to respond to positive reviews, demonstrating that your practice is responsive, is gracious, and cares about its patients.
4. Connect With Your Community
Community engagement plays a big role in attracting new and existing patients, so consider these tried- and-true approaches for your marketing mix:
Facebook and other social-media platforms make it a cinch to educate your followers. Easy options include highlighting your recent blog posts, linking to medical studies that relate to hearing health, and communicating new technology offerings. Share news, events, and other interests unrelated to hearing health, too; offering relevant and entertaining information outside of hearing-care topics helps attract patients beyond your social circle. When followers share or like your posts, their social circle is also exposed to your practice, further expanding your audience. Consider assigning a social- media captain in your practice to stay responsive to followers’ comments and questions.
Engaging the community needn’t be limited to digital tactics. You can also connect with your market and position yourself as the go-to educational resource by holding seminars, hosting interactive booths at popular city-sponsored concerts or festivals — great for spotlighting hearing protection and more — or partnering with complementary organizations and businesses that already have standing events that align with your goals. [Update: Due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19, consider hosting virtual events through Facebook Live or other digital platforms]
Most areas have local business associations, service clubs, charitable organizations, and other opportunities to build and leverage professional contacts while also giving back to the community. In addition, reaching out to primary care physicians in your area.
Newspaper, TV, and radio can also help brand you as the expert in your market. Advertising in these media can prove expensive, but aiming for free exposure is well worth the time. You can accomplish this by providing educational and relevant news releases to local media on a regular basis. Doing so helps increase the chance that one of your releases will be published, broadcast, or otherwise acted on, exposing your expertise and practice to a much wider section of the community.
Regardless of your marketing methods, remember:
- It’s important to regularly review them. As markets change and shift, some previously successful approaches may need revisiting. Other strategies and tactics may be performing better than they were before.
- There’s no silver bullet to attracting private-pay patients. It takes a balanced mix of targeted tactics that, working in concert with each other, generate the essential patient flow needed to meet the growth goals of your practice.
Which of the tactics discussed here are you currently doing? From that list, identify the ones you’d like to further focus on and improve. Add in another tactic that you’re not currently performing but want to consider, and start working on it. With a targeted plan, you can bring more private-pay patients through your doors!