Seeing how challenging it has become for private practices to compete against large hospital systems, Austin-based audiologist Margaret Hutchison, PhD, recently founded Practice Appeal, a medical marketing and consulting company. Hutchison reports that she created the company because she understands the obstacles that private practices face. As CEO of Austin Hearing Services, which she founded in 1999, Margaret worked through the challenges and developed a successful marketing strategy and improved business workflow.

Margaret Hutchison

Margaret Hutchison, PhD, CEO of Practice Appeal

According to Hutchison, as large hospital systems threaten to squeeze out private medical practices in communities across the country, new strategies are necessary for smaller practices to remain competitive. Hutchison launched Practice Appeal in March of 2015, drawing on her personal experience to provide private practitioners with the tools she believes they need to thrive in a new medical climate.

“We understand the perspective of private practitioners struggling to stay afloat because we’ve been there,” said Hutchison. “My small audiology practice was in trouble, but through a lot of hard work, I developed a strategy that not only buoyed us, but made us thrive. We want to give that same stability to other small medical practices.”

Practice Appeal takes a two-pronged approach to reviving sagging practices. The company aims to help practices increase patient acquisition by improving marketing and outreach efforts, while simultaneously improving workflow by instituting practical methods to make billing, scheduling, revenue management, and overall operations more efficient.

The company performs an analysis of each client’s current marketing efforts before making recommendations to improve marketability. Often, one of the most important factors toward driving new patient acquisition–a practice’s online presence–has been overlooked.

“We use a variety of techniques to help practices cultivate a more robust online presence,” Hutchison said. “The days of direct mail marketing are over. An attractive website, proper targeting, and strategic content can help previously stagnant practices shoot up in organic searches, and improve their overall image by increasing online reviews.”

Practice Appeal also conducts an audit of each practice’s pricing, purchasing, billing, and contracts to ensure that the financial side of things is running as smoothly as possible.

“Medical professionals have spent a lot of time in school, but they weren’t learning about best practices in regards to medical billing and filing. Our financial experts help cover those gaps in education,” Hutchison said.

Additionally, Practice Appeal helps medical practices improve how their patients feel when they arrive. Improving communication and the overall patient journey is a key part of increasing retention and word-of-mouth business, according to the company.

Source: Practice Appeal