Most hearing care professionals are constantly bombarded with a wide range of tasks and challenges. One of the challenges facing a majority of professionals is growing revenue. There are several consumer marketing tactics that have proven successful, ranging from advertising, newspaper inserts, and direct mail, to purchasing mailing lists based on specific demographics such as age and income. However, many practices neglect one of the most cost-effective ways to market, which is to their current patient base. The main reason for targeting the current patient base is to maintain high patient retention and to leverage various resell opportunities.
What does patient retention mean? It means that you, as a practice manager, need to ensure that your patients do not forget about you and your clinic and abandon you when they again need to seek hearing care. Not having a patient-retention strategy can result in your patients being lost to a hearing care competitor in your local market—for good. This is not only a missed opportunity in terms of the sale of a hearing instrument, but also a loss of marketing dollars you may have expended initially to bring them into your practice.
And what about leveraging resell opportunities? This means not only selling your patient a new set of hearing aids every so often, but also providing ongoing revenue opportunities from services such as annual checkups, extended warranty sales, and hearing aid checks and cleanings, just to mention a few.
Office Management Systems
Maximizing patient retention and leveraging resell opportunities require office managers to establish solid professional contact and relationships with the patient base. Perhaps the simplest and most cost-effective way to do this is through an Office Management System (OMS).
A common complaint among dispensing practice owners is that they spend almost as much time doing nonaudiological tasks as they spend attending to the needs of their patients (and making the office/practice money). An OMS is a clinic management system designed expressly for offices in a particular health care field, which can streamline office workflow and can help maximize the time professionals spend with their clients.
What is Blueprint OMS? Blueprint OMS is a powerful, easy to use clinic management system designed expressly for hearing health care practices. It simplifies and automates everyday tasks and provides a marketing module that makes it easy for you to stay in touch with your patient base. Specifically, Blueprint OMS takes care of everyday tasks such as:
- Patient data
- Hearing aid and equipment information
- Invoicing and third-party billing
- Communicationn Reportingn Accounting integration
In this article, we will focus on the marketing functionality in Blueprint OMS and how Blueprint OMS can assist you in staying in touch with your patients, increasing patient retention and leveraging resell opportunities.
Practical and Professional Marketing Made Easy
Patient contact—fast. The key to effective patient marketing is the ability to deliver the right message to the right patients at the right time. For example, in the middle of the current month, you want to send a mailing to all your patients who have a hearing aid for which the warranty expires the following month. Such a letter actually conveys two messages: 1) You care about your patients’ needs; and 2) You are providing them with an opportunity to safeguard their investment.
With Blueprint OMS, you can—in very few steps—have a letter ready to go to these patients almost immediately (Figure 1). The letter can be your clinic-specific letter with a call to action. Some of your patients will decide to extend their warranty for peace of mind and, in return, provide an additional revenue stream for your practice.
A wide range of output options are available, such as printing labels or envelopes, exporting the file for mail merge, or using custom letters that reside within Blueprint OMS and then crafting your practice-specific message for your unique needs.
Pinpointing patients by demography and specific fields; tracking results. Examples of other easy and relevant campaigns available in Blueprint OMS are mailings to patients based on their last appointment, last hearing evaluation, age of hearing aid, or hearing loss severity. Numerous data fields can be used for building specific patient lists, and multiple selection criteria can be combined in one query. The key is to be able to target specific patients with a message or for the purpose of recalling specific individuals for an appointment or resale opportunity.
The system also allows you to measure and track your lead generation sources and gauge the effectiveness of your marketing. This ensures that you can measure the return on investment (ROI) down to individual marketing initiatives, and compare them with the ROI of your other initiatives or against published industry survey norms.1 It gives you insight into how many patients a specific mailing or newspaper insert generated. It will also show you how many of the patients purchased a hearing aid and what kind of revenue it yielded. This data can even be broken down by professional to show closing rates, binaural fitting rates, or average selling prices.
“Tested not sold” customers. Blueprint OMS also allows you to track those patients who visited your office, were diagnosed with a significant hearing loss, but elected not to purchase a hearing aid. It is important to maintain a relationship with these patients, so when they are eventually ready to get hearing aids, they will come back to see you and not your competition.
As a practice operator, you have a wide array of options available when it comes to consumer marketing, such as buying mailing lists or doing newspaper marketing. However, perhaps one of the most cost-effective options is to market to your current patients to build a relationship and ensure that you leverage resell opportunities at the right time. An OMS system, like Blueprint OMS, provides your clinic with an easy to use tool for this purpose.
Correspondence can be addressed to HR or to Henrik Nielsen at .us.
- Phonak Marketing Research. A survey of key metrics for benchmarking a hearing practice. Hearing Review. 2011;18(7):24-30.