5 Strategies to Recession Proof Your Practice

By Travis Schneider, Co-founder and Chief Corporate Development Officer, Tebra

With the possibility of a recession looming, it’s essential to consider how an economic downturn may impact the healthcare industry. Although the ongoing need for medical care means people view healthcare as stable, and though it may experience the impact later than other industries, it is not immune from economic downturns and can still suffer significant and long-lasting effects.

As the cost of living increases, people may tighten their budgets and cut back on expenses, including medical care. This means medical practices must focus on delivering high-quality, personalized care that meets patients’ evolving expectations.

By adopting digital strategies and tactics proven to attract and retain patients, medical practices can position themselves for growth and success in the coming year. Consider the following strategies to help your practice meet your patients’ needs and provide the kind of experience that will encourage them to return for future care.

Build a strong web presence for your practice

In today’s digital age, it’s crucial to rank well in online search results and make a great first impression. As more patients turn to the internet to find healthcare options, it”s important to use all available channels to showcase your brand, services, and unique value proposition.

Patients often use websites like Google and Yelp to find information about your practice. If you have yet to claim these profiles, your business information could be unverified and incorrect, resulting in decreased patient confidence and lower search result rankings.

It’s essential to claim your profile across all review websites, business directories and healthcare directories. With Google being the world’s largest search engine, a properly optimized Google Business Profile can significantly enhance your online visibility.

Ensure your profile is complete by including clear business information that is consistent across your web presence. Begin with the basics: name, address, phone number (NAP), and then include details about your practice and services, photos, and links to your website and online booking tool.

Enhance your practice website for patients and search engines

Your website is critical in ensuring that the right people discover you, given that over 60% of patients look for care online. To improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO), organize your content into separate service pages through a process called “siloing.” Each page should be content-rich and focused on specific keywords.

To make your website appealing to visitors, ensure it uses responsive design in order to look good on desktops and mobile devices of different sizes. Use high-resolution images, keep the homepage organized, and place strategic calls-to-action (CTAs) that prompt appointment bookings throughout the site. Following this process will help to establish your expertise and engage prospective patients, even if they are not yet ready to schedule an appointment.

Manage your online reputation

Your practice’s online reputation encompasses all the information patients can find about your practice on various websites, but most commonly refers to the quality, quantity, and frequency of patient reviews. Patient reviews are the most influential online resource for patients deciding on a healthcare provider. In fact, 69% of patients will only consider a physician with an average star rating of four or higher.

To improve your online reputation, start with sending each patient an automated patient satisfaction survey via email or text after their visit. Making the request right after their appointment will encourage patients to post testimonials to your website or submit reviews to other popular healthcare online resources.

It’s also essential to address your reviews, especially those left by dissatisfied patients. Respond promptly within the forum where the patient posted their feedback, maintaining a concise and professional tone. Validate their experience and provide a clear next step. For instance, “We pride ourselves on quality care. Please reach out to us directly so we can address your concerns:” followed by a way to contact you. While it may not be possible to salvage every relationship with an unhappy patient, responding with professionalism demonstrates your commitment to patient care and can leave a positive impression on prospective patients.

Drive traffic with blog posts and social media

Boost your chances of attracting potential patients with content that answers their medical questions. Creating this type of content will help to establish your practice as a resource in your community while giving search engines more material to include in relevant results.

When you craft blog posts, focus on specific topics related to your specialty, and highlight the services and conditions you want to associate with your practice. Start by brainstorming a list of potential topics, then set a schedule for publishing regular blog posts — ideally, 1 to 2 per month. Use an editorial calendar for yourself to plan when to publish each post on your website.

Social media is another important way to share content and build your online reputation. Include links to your blog posts, update patients on your services and care-related expertise, and share external content from reputable medical sources. Like your blog strategy, create a schedule for your social media posts and maintain consistency.

Streamline your patient’s digital experience

Managing a medical practice can be overwhelming, especially for providers who handle not only patient care but also various administrative demands. However, incorporating digital tools into your workflow can help reduce manual tasks for your office staff and meet patients’ preferences for more convenient interactions with your practice. Consider implementing the following solutions to boost productivity and enhance patient satisfaction:

  • Offer online patient registration and intake forms before the appointment to save time for your staff, reduce patient wait times, and eliminate physical paperwork.
  • Enable two-way SMS text messaging with patients to provide timely reminders and updates, which can help to reduce missed appointments and increase patient engagement.
  • Provide online payment options to make it easier for patients to pay their bills and also simplify the billing process for your staff.
  • Launch email marketing campaigns to share medical and practice information, improve patient retention, and inform patients about relevant healthcare news and trends.

Patients have many options and will look elsewhere if you can’t give them what they want. Independent practices that take the time now to review how their office manages the patient journey and make the changes necessary to improve the patient experience are more likely to survive — and even thrive — no matter the economic circumstances.
Remember, sustaining a successful private practice takes time, patience, and a commitment to providing excellent care. Incorporating some of these marketing strategies into your practice growth plan can increase your visibility and attract new patients.