Whether you are a newly practicing clinician or have been in practice for many years, there are always new ways to generate income and increase traffic to your practice.
First, don’t underestimate or ignore the vast world of cyberspace and technology. It is estimated that more than half of the world’s population now owns a smart phone and/or has access to a computer. Utilizing technology is not only an easy way to market your practice, but it is also very affordable and cost-effective.
Consider various social networking opportunities, including Facebook and Twitter. Creating a Facebook page for your practice can enable you to post information about your practice including pictures, biographies, general information and office updates. You can also use Facebook to broadcast cancellations and same day appointment availability to your patients.
Consider developing a blog about your specialty. This can create instant credibility for you, and can help educate your patients about the latest news in your field.
Use online reviews to your advantage. Yelp.com is a great marketing tool. It is a free online business database that allows you to post your practice on the map, so when someone searches for your services in a given locality they can find information about your hours of operation and how to contact the office, as well as viewing photographs of the facilities. Patients who visit can then post personal reviews about their experience, which helps build the trust of prospective new patients.
If you want to stay on the cutting edge of technology, a new and slightly more tech-y tool that many businesses are utilizing are quick response or “QR” codes. These are barcodes that can be scanned using a smart phone that link to your business’s website. Consider including QR codes on the back of your business cards or other promotional materials, such as postcards or flyers.
If you have been practicing medicine for more than a year, it is time to take charge and generate some referrals for your practice. One of the best and easiest ways to bring in new patients is to network with your peers. Reach out to other nonphysician providers in your area and make the effort to get to know them.
If you are not sure how to go about doing this, attending pharmaceutical dinners, sending letters to other providers, or personally inviting other providers to come in to your office are all good starting points.
Other local businesses such as salons, gyms, physical therapy offices, nutritionists and wellness centers can also be great referral sources.
Participating in community outreach programs is another fantastic way to help gain new patients, boost your personal image and help educate the world about the nurse practitioner and physician assistant professions. You can accomplish this by leading community outreach awareness lectures or health screenings.
Consider volunteering your services or registering a booth at a local athletic or fundraising event. If your schedule is very light and not gaining momentum no matter what you do, sometimes you have to look within. Is your supervising physician (SP) supporting you? Does it make sense for your SP to refer their patients to you for follow-up visits to allow patients to become more familiar with your presence in the office? How about the front desk staff? Are they educated about what a PA is and what they can do? Are they comfortable scheduling appointments with you? Make sure that you have a strong internal support system.
Taking call can be one of the quickest ways to help generate more income. Offering your time and services after-hours and on weekends can be very valuable to your SP. You may be able to negotiate additional income for on-call time, and oftentimes you can negotiate a higher hourly rate than your normal salary. This is also an opportunity for patients to become more familiar with you and your skill set.
Regularly reviewing your explanation of benefits (EOBs) with your SP can help determine if you are billing properly and getting reimbursed appropriately.
Many providers bill using the wrong current procedural terminology (CPT) codes and/or under charge their patients. Make sure to stay current with billing trends and be aware of additional sources of income. For example, Medicare currently has incentive policies in place for e-prescribing medications. Contact the Centers for Medicare of Medicaid Services (CMS) or your current electronic health record (EHR) provider and ask about e-prescribing capabilities for your office.
There is always something that you can do to increase traffic to your practice. Clinicians need to take initiative and get creative with practice building strategies!
Lauren Gorence, MPAP, PA-C, practices family medicine full time in Santa Monica, CA. She has also been a senior consultant and student affairs expert for Certified Physician Assistant Consulting since 2011.