The question about how much it costs to get a single new patient appointment is difficult for most medical practices and medical practitioners to answer.
The biggest single thing that most medical practices and doctors say that they need is more new patients. Yet, when asked how they get new patents and how much this costs, the answers are vague.
The truth is that there is a direct cost for each new patient that calls a medical practice to schedule an appointment. Most doctors have no idea what this cost might be. Since they have no idea what this cost actually is, they have no real way to measure or to increase their patient flow.
Uncertainty Leads to Incorrect Assumptions
Instead of investing in their practice, this uncertainty leads to paying a series of people, usually over a period of years, amounts of money that are not considered by the practice to be significant. The practice hires a series of inexperienced underpaid “marketing experts” who perform menial services for a period of time. Over time the doctor and the practice see no results and conclude that “nothing works”.
The truth is that in the right hands these same tactics when incorporated into a real marketing strategy and when executed with skill and meticulous attention to detail can be incredibly effective. Both the practice and the marketers are expecting too much for too little. Neither side is realistic about time, costs and results.
The reason why most doctors are not able to increase their patient flow can be complex, but it certainly starts with understanding the cost to acquire a new patient. In order to determine an accurate cost for each new patient, the practice has to have specific processes working that can be increased. A significant problem for many practices is that they have people providing services related to web design and social media, but these services are not driven by the need to attract new patients. These services are simply consistent tasks that are done for the practice, assuming that they will contribute to the growth of the practice.
The majority of services that medical practices pay for do not contribute to generating an increase in patients, although this is precisely what most doctors want to achieve. Before any medical practice can predictably grow, there has to be a clear understanding of the cost required to get a single new patient. This cost has to be profitable. Then there must be a way to increase the number of appointments by investing more resources into these methods. This requires knowledge, skill, and experience, which is not that common.
Superficial Marketing Services
There is a key difference between the service providers (marketing, website, social media) and the practitioners. The doctors are assuming that these services will generate new business but the marketing “experts” do not really know that they will. They might and perhaps they are hoping for results but they really have no way to know. The marketing “experts” are working like employees, simply providing a simple service that the doctors believe will help their business, and not thinking or working in a deep way to ensure that the doctor is getting the results that they expect.
Even worse, the practices and doctors themselves do not really have any way to know if these services are working. They can generally look at their intake and sometimes see changes but they really do not have a direct connection between service “A” and the increase in calls last week.
This disparity between the marketers providing superficial services that may or may not actually help a practice and the doctor not really having any way to KNOW what works and WHY simply leads to the practice not investing enough in their marketing in the right way to be able to increase their new patient appointments.
The reality is that most practices are not getting ANY results for their marketing costs. If they are getting any, they certainly don’t know from what or how to increase these results.
How Much Would You Spend To Get One New Patient?
The first real question about getting more new patients is to be realistic about how much you would be willing to spend to get the first appointment with a new patient. You have to know what it actually costs and then be willing to continue to invest these resources to generate a consistent call flow. The problem for most practices, however, is that they do not know the cost required to get a new patient, and are unwilling to invest a reasonable amount to start generating appointments.
Just about every doctor that has been in business for any length of time has been disappointed when their marketing efforts did not generate new appointments. Many doctors have spent five and six figures without seeing any increase in patient flow. All of these stories are hard to hear, especially when it is certainly avoidable. Once you understand how much a new patient cost and you have a system that generates new patients at an affordable cost, scaling your practice is no longer gambling.
The problem remains however that few marketing “experts” actually conduct business based on generating results. The truth is, that this can be VERY hard to do. Many marketing professionals are providing services that may or may not actually help the medical practice grow. A deeper discussion with your marketing “experts” often will bring you to this conclusion. Your view about whether this is ethical or not is a different discussion, but clearly, the inexperienced marketing professional does NOT actually know what will help your business or practice grow. Their experience in generating views, likes, comments, and follows carries very little evidence that it will help your practice grow.
The entire marketing proposition changes when the services provided result in patients calling. Your business changes when you can scale these results based on how much you decide to invest.
Be honest. If you knew that you could get ten more patients based on how much you invest and you knew that it would be profitable, how much would you invest?
Get Peace of Mind from Predictable Results
How much do you have to spend to get one new patient? If you x10 that amount do you receive 10 new patients?
Not knowing will leave you gambling on tactics instead of boldly investing in growth.
There is nothing wrong with following social conventions and trending data to find what is hot and the new media that people are rushing to use. Almost on a daily basis, I hear from doctors and medical practices that Facebook is dead and that it no longer works to get new patients. These doctors tell me with such conviction how much they lost trying and how futile it all has become.
Yet, I disagree with everyone who tells me these “things” do not work. Wherever their expectations came from are certainly uninformed and did not begin with the question of how much it ACTUALLY costs to get one new patient to book an appointment.
I do this every week for my clients. Hundreds of calls. Appointments every day, all day. Yet, what many people tell me to be true is that this is not possible. Most of these doctors have tried a long list of tactics, and have concluded that nothing on the computer works to get new patients.
The Marketing Audit that Changed a Practice
It is invigorating now to hear that my relationship with my clients has changed their practices. Some of these practices have turned around from anticipating bankruptcy to opening new offices. Nearly every doctor, in the beginning, has had such deep ingrained disbelief and skepticism that getting them to see and understand the truth has been difficult. “Your practice can grow. Things can change.” Yet many of these doctors have heard this, believed, spent and saw nothing happen. After these experiences, it all seems untrue.
A client referred me to a colleague and long time friend who has been trying for years to get his practice to grow without any success. He had been working with an agency and two marketing “experts” for more than three years WITHOUT ANY RESULTS. After spending six figures on marketing campaigns and with contracts pending for even more expenses he was starting to feel like he was being taken advantage of. After our initial discovery and consultation, the next steps became clear.
When we first spoke he had less than 10 calls a month and was in despair.
He recently opened another office.
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