By Dan Matthews, Writer, Content Consultant, and Researcher
There’s a reason why medicine is celebrated as the healing profession. As prestigious as a career in medicine may be, doctors simply don’t incur the massive debt or take on the endless hours of rigorous study and training just for a bunch of impressive letters at the end of their names.
A successful doctor enjoys helping people. They seek a career dedicated to the care of others, one committed to the idea of making the world, or at least the community, better than they found it. Despite these lofty goals, the fact remains that doctors who own their own practices aren’t just healers. They’re also entrepreneurs.
For some, striking the right balance between growing the practice and continuing to serve the community can be difficult. The good news is that you don’t have to forsake your healing mission to ensure that your practice survives and thrives. With a bit of strategy, it is, indeed, possible to expand your practice while caring for those most in need.
Harnessing the Power of Technology
One of the first and most important ways to grow your office without losing the ethos of a small community-oriented practice is to harness the power of technology. With the right tech, you can not only make your practice more efficient, but you’ll also be able to reach a far larger patient population.
For example, incorporating telemedicine will not only save time, as virtual consultations tend to accomplish more for the patient in less time than would be consumed in a traditional office visit. Best of all, telehealth consultations and remote patient monitoring devices aren’t just more convenient for patients, but they also allow patients who might otherwise forgo an office visit or hospital procedures. This enables the elderly, those with disabilities, or those who live in remote areas and lack transportation to have access to care.
In other words, by implementing telemedicine, you’re expanding your access to the community, including its most underserved patient populations.
Similarly, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, including chatbots, can speed patient triaging and intake and can even facilitate diagnosis and treatment planning. This gives you and your in-office team more time for hands-on patient care. Such tech efficiency increases your service capacity without compromising patient care.
Finding Patients and Being Found
One of the most significant barriers both in growing your practice and in connecting with underserved patient populations in your community is often the lack of visibility on both sides.
You can’t expand, for instance, if your target patient populations don’t know about you or can’t find you. Similarly, you can’t serve your community as you desire if you don’t know where or how to reach your target demographics.
This means that you need to get strategic about your online visibility. For instance, you need to ensure that your practice ranks highly in a Google search. If a prospective patient has to scan through page after page of search results to find your practice, odds are you’re going to lose them.
So, at the very least, you need to ensure that your Google My Business profile is complete. You also need to confirm that your listings in Google and other online directories are complete and up-to-date. This should include the ability for your prospective patients to easily map the route to your office.
Such online visibility will, inevitably, galvanize the growth of your practice. This will translate into more resources, both financial and logistical, to dedicate to community outreach. Indeed, in today’s economic environment, most small practices need to prioritize growth.
This can not only ensure the survival of your practice, but it can also open up important opportunities for serving the community. For instance, you may channel your new financial resources into free and discounted care options for patients who need them. Similarly, you may funnel these profits into the hiring of more nurses, nurse practitioners, and physicians’ assistants to increase your care capacity in the community.
Growing your small practice does not mean you have to abandon your mission to serve the community. By strategically implementing technology and channeling your increasing resources into community outreach and the funding of care for patients in need, you can truly achieve the best of both worlds for your practice.