2020 ushered in a whole new world that only continued to evolve into the new normal in 2021. Medical practices have had to continually adjust to the impact of the pandemic on consumers, their employees, and their businesses. With 2022 around the corner, let’s look back at the trends that defined 2021:
1. The Change in Communication
Each year our Medical Marketing Outlook underscores the movement to a digital, mobile-first world that has been a consistent pattern for several years. But consumers are not necessarily shifting away from certain communication methods. Rather, they prefer to have several convenient options for interacting with your practice. For example, this year, OptiCall clients saw increased usage of web contact forms, but simultaneously an increased conversion percentage from inbound phone calls. The takeaway: patients like the convenience of contacting you anytime online, but they’re more likely to book an appointment if they speak with someone over the phone.
COVID-19 has also introduced “contact-less” communication. Virtual consults became a preferred way to have appointments. QR codes resurfaced as an alternative to printed materials. Consumers are increasingly using “tap to pay” when using credit cards or otherwise going wallet free with mobile pay. The consistent element to all of this is consumers want options: digital, virtual, contact-free, and a human connection.
2. Volatility in Demand
Earlier this year, we reported an uptick of 18% in volume. That momentum has fluctuated a bit, but overall it seems the ebb and flow of volume remains unpredictable. This has made it tough for practices to adequately staff their phones and offices. Employees who were temporarily laid off may be asked back but on a part-time basis. This leaves practices vulnerable if they can’t sustain the growth they need to rebuild their businesses. Most of the successful practices have leaned on outsourcing certain functions of their business. Whether it’s temporary or a permanent 3rd party partner, the ability to dial-up or dial-down key aspects of their business, is what has allowed businesses to weather times of unpredictability.
3. A Shift to Permanent Remote Work
As the pandemic rolled out, many companies had to quickly shift employees to a work-from-home model. Many thought it would be temporary, but as months went by, remote work became a permanent option. It’s reported that 45% of full-time employees now work part-time or fully remote. The convenience and flexibility for employees, combined with the ability for companies to expand hiring outside of typical geographies, are just a few reasons why remote work seems to be here to stay.
Of course, this certainly impacted the workforce for medical practices, but with more time at home, consumers have a more flexible schedule to focus on personal well-being. We don’t doubt the impact of everyone being home has allowed consumers to devote more time to exploring medical procedures they’ve been otherwise putting off. This would include researching procedures and practices, and a greater ability to schedule initial consultations – especially virtual consultations.
A shift to remote work seems good for consumers, employees, and practices – but there are downsides.
4. The Great Resignation
With unpredictability in work, and more opportunities to work elsewhere, America’s workforce has changed. A new report underscores the rapidly emerging trend known as “The Great Resignation”, where 48% of America’s working population is actively job searching or watching for opportunities. Businesses are facing a staggeringly high quit rate along with a record-high number of unfilled positions.
The root of the Great Resignation is really about the “Great Discontent” where workers are longing for a clear purpose, to be inspired, and to know how their work delivers value.
Unfortunately, this comes at a time when practices are trying to build back up. Now more than ever, they need employees to lean in – instead practices may be dealing with staff who is disengaged and underperforming.
This also puts pressure on other employees who are engaged but who are being overworked and underpaid, which can further perpetuate discontent in the workplace.
Ultimately, practices get the short end of the stick. Constant employee turnover and subpar performance can end up just causing more instability and a poor patient experience.
5. Practice Overwhelm
These trends can send any medical practice into a downward spiral of chaos and overwhelm. We see it all the time, where practices are barely able to manage the day-to-day business, let alone plan for the future. With the new year on the horizon, it’s time to pause and assess where your business seems to be struggling, and implement the tools and processes that can correct it to set you up for success. It’s the businesses that are monitoring changes now and adapting quickly that will thrive.
We can help. OptiCall’s focus is helping practices get out of overwhelm by effectively managing prospects and patients, ensuring you’re converting more calls to consults, and growing your business. Our experts are trained to consistently provide an exceptional patient experience using our proprietary methodologies that are proven to boost booked appointments by 15-25% above industry standards. Now’s the time to set your practice up for success in 2022. Request your free practice assessment.