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How to use value as a differentiator to grow your practice

Can you spot the differences between the two photos below? [Hint…don’t look too hard!]

I hope you didn’t spend too much time comparing the images, because they are exactly the same. They are the same size, same content, and truly there are no differences. Unfortunately, people have historically viewed healthcare like two identical pictures. They think all providers are the same, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Differences can define you

You know that practices differ in many patient-impacting ways, including and not limited to:

  • The quality of healthcare provider 
  • The warmth and attitude from all staff (both front desk and clinicians) 
  • Clear pre-visit communication 
  • Functionality and cleanliness of facility 
  • Ability to book online 
  • Ability to fill out paperwork online 
  • Ability of the clinic to see the patient at the scheduled time 
  • Ease of parking 

Your practice is able to add value to the client relationship in part by intentionally differentiating yourself from the norm.

Adding value is where a buyer becomes excited because of the value from their initial purchase.

Use the “retailization” of healthcare to grow your practice

Hopefully by now you’ve observed the growing retailization of healthcare practices. Retailization in this context means that some clinics are providing a more customer centric (rather than patient centric) experience.

The difference is simple; good practices are showing love to their customers and using tactics previously used by retailers to stand out from the competition.

The days of people accepting a cold customer experience are rapidly dissolving. Prospects are becoming savvy healthcare shoppers by looking at your Google reviews, your website, social media and more. Simply put, customers want to be pampered.

The good news about adding value and pampering customers is that it can be easily done. You can create a rave-worthy experience and when done correctly, you can increase your word-of-mouth referrals.

Reconsider the list of practice characteristics. When scheduling an appointment, the prospect may be wondering if you take their insurance, but when you are exceptional at the below items you become more appealing regardless of insurance.

Practice Characteristics
  • The quality of healthcare provider  
    • How do you demonstrate during the visit that your clinicians are the best? 
  • The warmth and attitude from all staff (both front desk and clinicians)  
    • Do you have a system for greeting guests, offering a beverage, maybe a healthy snack, and a comfortable place to sit while waiting? Do you offer Wi-Fi for visitors to use? How are you making guests comfortable? 
  • Clear pre-visit communication  
    • Do you communicate via email and/or text with clear instructions regarding when to show up, where to park, and what to expect during the visit?  
  • Functionality and cleanliness of facility
    • Does your facility appear clear or cluttered? Do your clinicians have easy access to their tools or do staff routinely have to search for their tools? 
  • Ability to book online  
    • If you are not doing this, then you need to!
  • Ability to fill out paperwork online  
    • Do you provide people with the choice to digitally fill out select intake paperwork prior to arrival? 
  • Ability of the clinic to see the patient at the scheduled time 
    • Does your clinic run efficiently so people are typically seen within 15 minutes of their scheduled appointment time? If not, then fix this fast! 
  • Ease of parking  
    • If you don’t have control over parking then at least proactively communicate the easiest methods for patients to access parking near you. Additionally, providing public transportation information where applicable is helpful too. 

Once your clinic has mastered the basics of the retail healthcare experience, then it is time to up your game. Most, if not all, of your competitors are already getting the above things right. You need to do more, and it isn’t hard!

One practice we work with implemented a system for clinic owner to patient communication as a differentiator. The owner rarely sees patients himself, but he sends a personalized video to each new patient after their first visit. Recording and sending these videos takes the owner about fifteen minutes each week.

The video is recorded using a platform called Bonjoro (with which we have no affiliation) and it is sent via text. The personalized video typically sounds something like: “Hey Jim, I’m Tanner the owner of Acme Medicine. I see that you came in this week to see Dr. Watkins. Thanks for choosing our clinic and I know that you are in great hands with Dr. Watkins. If you ever have questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly.”

Using the Bonjoro app, the clinic owner is able to see the number of people interacting with each video. In a typical month, over 85% of his clinic’s new patients watch their personalized video, and over 60% interact with the video. The interaction is usually a simple thanks or a positive note.

In this instance, the customer feels valued by the clinic owner and that increases the customer’s dedication to the business. Additionally, because nobody else is doing this in their daily life, the video from the clinic owner becomes conversation worthy.

In another example, one Direct Primary Care (DPC) practice we work with has established multiple business partnerships. The practice partners with personal trainers, nutritionists, massage therapists, and more. Each patient member of the DPC practice receives a voucher for three treatments EVERY year. This adds significant real and perceived value to his members. Additionally, this costs his practice very little.

The practice owner contacted several business that would want warm introductions to his members. Those businesses provide the vouchers at little-to-no-cost to the practice. In this instance, the DPC practice wins, the patient wins, and the business partners win.

Look at your clinic through the lens of a patient. From the first interaction when they become aware of your business all the way through when they convert and become a patient. Now consider what you can do immediately after their first purchase to make your business stand out from the pack.

Finally, remember we are most excited about a purchase when we first make that purchase. If you provide a wow experience immediately after the initial purchase, then you are more likely than ever to get a word-of-mouth referral from that patient.