Is Your Practice Ready for the Year-End Rush?
3 Ways Seasonal Planning Help Grow Your Practice, Improve Patient Experience, and Increase Revenue
If your office is like most medical and dental practices, you see wide swings in patient volume throughout the course of any given year. It’s a lot like the seasonality experienced in the retail world.
Retailers understand that their revenue streams will wax and wane, influenced largely by the holidays, seasonal weather conditions, school schedules, and countless other local or life events that affect the decision making of their customers.
Successful retailers plan for these spikes and spirals. Successful medical and dental practices do, too.
Why Create a Seasonal Business Plan?
A seasonal plan eases the strain of high volume periods and alleviates the worries that come with slow times. But it does so much more. It allows you to capitalize on busy periods, attract new patients, dramatically improve patient experience, increase annual revenue streams, and grow your practice.
Check out these ideas for maximizing the seasonal peaks and valleys in your practice volume.
Promote Seasonal Peak Volumes
With Labor Day behind us and the school year in full swing, many of your patients have now trained their sights on an important financial priority:
They’re tracking the status of their annual insurance deductible because the minute it’s fully paid, the race is on. Your phones will be ringing, hold times will lengthen, they’ll schedule as many high-dollar deferred medical and dental procedures as they can possibly squeeze in by New Year’s Eve (the last day to take advantage of maximum insurance coverage).
Similarly, summer is often a very busy time, especially for practices serving school-age patients whose parents try to batch routine medical and dental appointments in June, July, and August.
How many other peak seasons did you have last year?
With phones ringing, hold times lengthening, and your patients’ patience running thin, these are stressful times for you, your patients, and your support staff.
But they don’t have to be.
When you plan in advance, you can prepare for this fourth quarter flood of phone calls. You can set realistic expectations with patients about wait times – and train your office staff to be particularly understanding about the calendar calisthenics needed at year-end. Or, you can outsource your appointment scheduling operation, handing over the delicate task of juggling multiple urgent needs to a team of scheduling experts. You can use email, texts, and social media, to convey your patient-centered values, including your commitment to helping patients take good care of themselves, both physically and financially. And you can reach new patients by offering small promotions or useful educational information.
Use Slow Seasons to Complete Projects and Accommodate Vacations
Many practices see a slowdown just after New Year and through February. Decide in advance how you’ll handle potential downtime of your staff. If you’ve planned successfully, you’ll be ready to weather the revenue storm and take on tasks you couldn’t tackle during peak periods, like file updating, strategic projects, collections, or team training.
Communicate a clear, fair vacation policy that is consistent with the needs of your practice. While you may not want to prohibit vacations during peak times, you might consider offering rewards or perks for scheduling vacations during slow periods.
Get Feedback for Next Year
Use surveys and informal communications to seek input from your patients. What are their scheduling needs and preferences? How can you help them plan for their visits and ongoing care? How was their experience the last time they tried to schedule an appointment? How do they feel about the care they received while in your office? What would make it better? Learn from this feedback and use it to improve your seasonal plans every year.
At Skybridge Americas, we help medical and dental practices dramatically improve patient experience. To learn more about how we can help you grow your practice, please reach out to us. We look forward to hearing from you!
Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
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