Every single medical practice has been impacted by COVID-19. With businesses starting to re-open after several weeks, it’s been a matter of survival. This certainly didn’t come with a playbook, user manual, or how to guide. Literally every practice is learning as they go on how to cope with the new normal. While we aren’t in the clear yet, we certainly have learned some things. Here are 5 takeaways from the crisis so far:
1. Expect the Unexpected
One thing is for sure, no one expected the impact COVID-19 had on the entire world and how quickly. Many also didn’t plan for the 2008 economic crash.
If these events have taught us one thing, it’s that we need to be prepared for anything. Easy, right? Well although we can’t predict what the future will hold, we know agility is the new superpower.
If another crisis (any crisis) were to happen, your action plan will need to include the following:
- Financial Plan: How much do you have in reserves to withstand another crash? Where can you cut costs quickly if needed?
- Communication Plan: How will you communicate with clients and prospects? How will you continue to stay connected and – key point – deliver engaging, valuable content?
- New Revenue Streams: are there additional services you could offer to differentiate yourself or otherwise fulfill a need should your core business tank?
2. Marketing is an Investment in Staying Connected
A time of crisis is not a time to go silent. Connecting with clients and prospects is critical, but it must be meaningful and relevant. Promoting your business can come off insensitive, but letting your customers know what you are doing for them can go a long way.
This can be a time to deepen your relationships with them with digital marketing. How you handle and communicate can strengthen your brand in the consumer’s mind.
Consumers are also doing less, which means they are paying more attention to advertising. Though they may not be acting, they are researching and looking for businesses to meet them where they are at.
When COVID-19 initially hit, user searches were down significantly. But in the last few weeks, user activity has dramatically increased. To put it bluntly, consumers are bored (and many sitting on money they may have saved during this time).
It’s a good time to ramp up your marketing efforts and spend.
3. Virtual Consults Are Here to Stay
Many practices have been doing virtual consults for years as a way to expand their reach beyond their city. Furthermore, before COVID-19, one of the biggest hurdles was getting prospects into the office. Virtual consults have been used as an efficient, convenient way for prospects to understand quickly if they are a candidate for a procedure without taking a lot of time out of their day to get their initial questions answered.
The current crisis has only strengthened virtual consults as a necessary part of prospect and patient management. And although offices may be re-opening, many clients will feel uncomfortable going onsite for a while. New patients may be especially cautious.
If you aren’t already in the game of conducting virtual consults, we recommend you start.
4. The Patience Experience Will Be Forever Changed
Another thing that’s here to stay is the new office experience. Gone are the days where patients would wait for 15 or 20 minutes in a waiting room – fumbling through magazines that were touched by several people before them.
The new normal includes things like patients waiting in their cars until their appointment, getting their hands sanitized upon entry, and frequent cleaning of surfaces between appointments.
That means you need to re-think how you’ll continue to deliver an exceptional experience. You need to make everyone including your staff feel safe the moment they walk in the door. Your office may need to be outfitted with certain structural changes like installing plexiglass panels, or purchasing furniture or equipment that can easily be sanitized. Your check-in process will need to be completely revamped, and your staff trained and resourced accordingly.
How you maximize the patient experience has drastically changed, but it has never been more critical to think through every detail.
5. Start Making Necessary Practice Improvements
Many businesses are taking advantage of this down time to make improvements to their business – whether it’s construction, implementing new technology, etc.
It’s a perfect time to assess your business and tackle some of the larger initiatives you’ve been putting off but that may be holding your business back from growth. It’s also a time to think about how you’ll need to change to accommodate the new normal. Make website updates, implement a CRM system, and upgrade technology. Take a look at your processes for operations and workflows to determine how you will need to maximize efficiencies. Take advantage of OptiCall’s free practice assessment which can help you understand how you’re managing inbound phone calls and web leads, then review the best steps to move forward.
It’s likely you will also see more fluctuations in your business. We predict a surge of inquiries when practices re-open, but then things will taper off before they level out.
With so much uncertainty, it’s worth exploring where you can outsource key aspects of your business. For example, rather than hiring full time staff our clients are relying on our First Contact and Capture programs to help assist with answering phone calls and web leads, even over the weekend, or outside of your regular office hours.
There’s a lot you need to be doing for your business, and now is not the time to sit back and quarantine. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to make your practice the best it can be, so when you do re-open, you’re better than ever.
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