Marketing | May 2019 Hearing Review

Four relatively simple, inexpensive, and effective ways to boost your patient base 

With the continued rise of third-party payers in hearing care, you may wonder whether it’s possible to target and attract more private-pay patients. Yes, it is! The key? Tap into core elements that help drive private-pay patients, who typically have greater freedom than their insured counterparts in selecting a provider. Here are four areas your business can focus on to bring more private payers through your doors and into long-term relationships with your practice

Generally, all hearing healthcare providers have access to the same technology, so how do you stand out from the rest of the players in your market? Brand yourself as the expert in your area who not only generously shares crucial hearing healthcare knowledge but is committed to delivering remarkable patient experiences:

  • Local expertise. Becoming your market’s trusted advisor in hearing care gives community members a go-to resource for any questions or concerns they have, which allows them an easy path to make informed decisions. Rather than associating you only with hearing aid sales, prospects are able to see you as a credible source of information on issues affecting their or a loved one’s hearing health and wellness.
  • Remarkable experiences. Providing a superior experience at every touch point helps create a patient for life, in turn, spurring additional referrals from your existing patient base. Practices tend to invest most of their efforts in attracting new patients, but retaining their existing private payers by nurturing strong patient-provider relationships is much more cost effective.

Boost Your Visibility

Private-pay patients typically initiate their provider search online, making it critical that your website appears at the top of Google search results. Help make it happen with:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Organic—versus paid—search results depend on Google rankings that consider myriad factors from keyword usage, content originality, and spelling, to mobile friendliness, site speed, links, and more that affect the user experience. SEO works to improve your site’s visibility by staying atop—and congruent—with Google’s algorithm. Online directories are another key to attracting targeted traffic to your website and, ultimately, to your practice. A well-rounded SEO program should include a listing service in its offerings.
  • Paid search. Paid search also plays an important role in web search results, providing the ability to target specific keywords your patients are using and deliver specific content relevant to those searches. You can also target your local geographic area, ensuring you’re attracting more qualified patients within your own practice boundary. Another benefit: Paid search levels the playing field, helping you more easily compete with the major players in the hearing care space and advertise alongside big-box stores and manufacturers.
  • Blog posting. Publishing topical and informative blog articles on a regular basis ties together important factors in differentiating and branding your practice. For one, it easily and effectively communicates your expertise to the community, helping you stand out as a reliable resource. It also supports your search engine rankings, with Google potentially viewing your constantly updated content as more current and relevant than that of other websites.

Handle Those Online Reviews

When patients find you online, do they like what they see? First impressions matter—especially when it comes to patients’ health and wellness—and that includes your online reviews. Having too few reviews, below-average or poor ratings, or negative comments can send prospects running to a competitor. However, some simple steps can help turn that around.

Rob Kennedy

Rob Kennedy

First, focus on improving your online review program. Online reviews are one of the most efficient ways to attract new patients, because satisfied patients do your marketing for you. An easy way to start building more feedback is to simply ask your patients to review your services online. A stronger approach is to consider using an online review service to help.

It’s also important to monitor your reviews as they come in. Doing so allows you to uncover any common complaints that can be addressed within the practice. It also helps you respond to any negative reviews in a positive and helpful manner. This shows you care about the service you provide and are willing to correct any unpleasant experiences.

And remember: Don’t just focus on the negative reviews you might receive; it’s equally important to respond to positive reviews, demonstrating that your practice is responsive, is gracious, and cares about its patients.

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Connect With Your Community

Community engagement plays a big role in attracting new and existing patients, so consider these tried-and-true approaches for your marketing mix:

  • Social media. Facebook and other social media platforms make it a cinch to educate your followers. Easy options include highlighting your recent blog posts, linking to medical studies that relate to hearing healthcare, and communicating new technology offerings. Share news, events, and other interests unrelated to hearing health, too; offering relevant and entertaining information outside of hearing care topics helps attract patients beyond your social circle. When followers share or like your posts, their social circle is also exposed to your practice, further expanding your audience. Consider assigning a social media captain in your practice to stay responsive to followers’ comments and questions.
  • Live events. Engaging the community needn’t be limited to digital tactics. You can also connect with your market and position yourself as the go-to educational resource by hosting seminars or reaching out to the primary care physicians in your community. Both will lead to new patient flow, and aid in attracting referrals.
  • Media exposure. Newspaper, TV, and radio can also help brand you as the expert in your market. Advertising in these media can prove expensive, but aiming for free exposure is well worth the time. You can accomplish this by providing educational and relevant news releases to local media on a regular basis. Doing so helps increase the chance that one of your releases will be published, broadcast, or otherwise acted on, exposing your expertise and practice to a much wider section of the community.

Stay Aware of Your Market

Regardless of your marketing methods, remember:

  • It’s important to regularly review them. As markets change and shift, some previously successful approaches may need revisiting. Other strategies and tactics may be performing better than they were before.
  • There is no silver bullet to attracting private-pay patients. It takes a balanced mix of targeted tactics that, working in concert with each other, generate the essential patient flow needed to meet the growth goals of your practice.

What Should YOU Do?

Which of the tactics discussed here are you currently doing? From that list, identify the ones you’d like to further focus on and improve. Add in another tactic that you’re not currently performing but want to consider, and start working on it. With a targeted plan, you can bring more private-pay patients through your doors!

Rob Kennedy,Marketing Innovation Lead, Audigy Group

Correspondence can be addressed to Rob Kennedy at: [email protected]

Original citation for this article: Kennedy R. Winning in hearing care: 4 ways to attract private-pay patients. Hearing Review. 2019;26(5):24-26.