Deciding which medical practice management solution to choose from all those out there depends heavily on your clinic’s business model. Of course, it’s not the only factor involved in the decision-making process as you’ll also have to take into account your roadmap for the future and how your colleagues feel about it all.
As we examine each of these features, we will discuss the advantages of their use in terms of the patient journey and what Medesk sees as the ideal general business model for all clinics in the private sector.
The patient journey from a medical business perspective includes:
- Patient Acquisition - how patients find you and book appointments
- Service Provision - what you do to give patients the care they want
- Patient Retention - how you gain and retain patients’ loyalty
Now that that’s clear, let’s take a look at the top 10 practice management software features that you ought to be using this year and beyond.
Patient Acquisition Tools and Strategies
Attracting new patients to your clinic is not something you will have had to focus on when working in the public sector for the NHS. However, once you strike out on your own, you’ll quickly notice that the private healthcare market is thriving right now and the competition is fierce. You really need to stand out from the crowd if you are to grow your medical practice and make it sustainable as a business.
Not much, if anything, is taught about self-promotion at medical school and even beyond, which is rather surprising considering how many doctors-to-be end up working in general practice and having a big say on how their practice is run. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to learn the promotional strategies and workflows that people working in other fields are taught right from the bat.
Proper patient acquisition as it is meant to be is all about demonstrating your value as a physician or clinic to prospective patients. Many of the techniques and tools you need to learn how to use come straight from the world of marketing, except that they must be adapted to healthcare. After all, purchasing services for the good of one’s health is not often treated in the same way as buying groceries or shopping online.
To maximise your patient acquisition rates, you will want to use the following tools:
- Acquisition channel tracking
- Live online booking
- Pre-payment and deposit options
- Automated booking confirmations via SMS and email
Even when you create online content that should demonstrate value to your prospective patients, it's not the end of the story. To ensure that the right patient groups are encouraged to attend your clinic, you'll need to look into what kind of content works best in different places. Often, this involves a long period of trial and error. That is, unless you take steps to record your progress and learn from your successes and failures.
To make sure you capture all the information you need to make the right marketing decisions, you will need to:
- Create a unique appointment booking link for each patient acquisition channel
- Record each channel according to the platform and specific campaign
- Calculate the acquisition cost per patient per channel
Solutions for Optimal Service Provision
While your clinical team will know perfectly well how to render the services for which they have been trained, that’s not all there is to service provision in healthcare. Whether we’re talking about the NHS or the private sector, the patient experience and thus their engagement with your treatment plan depends on a number of clinical and non-clinical factors.
Even when the clinical care you provide is second to none, it can be overshadowed by a vast array of different inadequacies that crop up throughout the patient journey. One of the issues most commonly raised by patients has to do with the filling out of paperwork during consultations and how this detracts from the building of a rapport, trust and loyalty. In order to streamline the provision of medical services with the help of medical software, you ought to consider the use of a number of vital features.
Practice management software can give excellent support with the following interesting features:
- Customisable consultation notes templates
- Pre-defined sets of templates and associated services
- Automatic document generation for prescriptions, referral letters and more
Building Loyalty and Trust for Patient Retention
Relatively speaking, it’s not so difficult to encourage a new patient to attend your clinic for the first time. This is especially true when you have leveraged the top features outlined above in this article. The real challenge lies in keeping hold of these patients.
Achieving a high patient retention rate requires you to build loyalty and trust among your patients. Managing this means that you have a developing patient list that you can rely upon for the future growth of your clinic as a business. After all, if you rely solely on new patients coming in at a healthy pace, then you’ll run into problems sooner rather than later.
To ensure that your clinic is capable of retaining patients, a good PMS will help you to:
- Manage and delegate tasks and workflows
- Record phone calls for quality control and improvement
- Develop custom reports to answer any business question
Top 10 PMS Feature Checklist
Here's a handy checklist of the top 10 objectives you should expect to complete with the help of your practice management system.
- Track and optimise patient acquisition channels
- Allow patients to book online in a transparent and manageable way
- Ensure a high attendance rate with pre-payments and deposits
- Ensure a low no-show rate with automated booking confirmations and reminders
- Simplify and customise your data entry for better face time with your patients
- Pre-define the notes templates you want to use for each clinical situation
- Automate document generation for standardised forms like prescriptions
- Manage and delegate tasks automatically attached to appointments and patients
- Record phone calls and outcomes at reception for quality control and improvement
- Ask your PMS provider to add flexible custom reports to answer each specific questions
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