Many pediatric medical practices took a beating during COVID as patients stayed away for a variety of reasons. Many families reasoned that they could skip things like their annual well-child visit or live with irritations like warts or eczema to minimize exposure to COVID. Sports seasons were widely canceled, decreasing the needs for physicals.
In addition, kids were generally healthier. With many schools moving to virtual platforms, kids had few interactions with other children, which meant less germs were spread. A Washington Post article showed that there was just one death from flu among U.S. children in the 2020-2021 flu season compared to nearly 200 the season before.
Even if kids did get sick, there wasn’t a big push to get to the doctor for everyday ailments like colds and stomach bugs that run their course. Since kids were staying home anyway, they didn’t need a doctor’s notes to miss school.
If you’re a pediatrician looking to rebound after the pandemic, here are some ideas to boost your patient volume and earnings.
Improve your website. If you don’t yet have a website, or if you have neglected your site, you’ll reap rewards for creating a strong online presence. A 2018 Doctor.com report revealed just how heavily people rely on the internet for healthcare information:
- Over 80% of patients read reviews about a provider before choosing to go to them, even if they’ve been referred.
- 80% of patients use the internet to answer healthcare-related questions.
- Over 60% of patients will select one provider over another based on their online presence.
Your website need not be fancy, but it should be professional-looking and easy to navigate. That means your contact information and services should be easy to find, and you should have a well-designed logo and professional photos. Features like appointment scheduling and patient portals help improve the user experience (and save your staff time).
While you may be able to design a site on your own, it may be worth hiring a pro. They can ensure that your website loads quickly and is mobile-friendly (since many people will search for you on phones or tablets). These features will help your site rank higher on Google.
A professional can also ensure that your site is optimized so that it shows up higher in search engines. This involves keeping fresh content on your site such as blogs or videos. If you don’t have time to create new content, a professional firm can also help with this.
Complete your online profiles. In addition to your website, make sure that you show up with a completed profile on Google, Yelp, and health-specific websites like Healthgrades and ZocDocs. An incomplete profile might make you seem less credible so make sure to add all of the requested information and include professional photos of your providers.
Encourage patients to rate you on these profiles through a follow-up email or text after they come in for a visit. (There are some cool software programs that invite reviews on your behalf and make it easy for patients to complete them.) Nothing is more helpful in getting patients in the door than glowing reviews.
Remind. While it’s important to bring in new patients, you should also get your existing patients back in the door for important services. You can get on your patients’ radars with reminders. Find out who needs well-patient visits, immunizations, or hearing and vision screenings. Send out reminders via text or email.
Expand telemedicine offerings. COVID thrust virtual meetings into the spotlight, and the convenience is so tantalizing that there’s no going back. A number of minor illnesses such as rashes, ear infections, and common colds can be diagnosed and treated through telehealth.
According to results from the 2019 Accenture Digital Health Consumer Survey, 56% of patients say the convenience of the location or channel for a medical appointment is key, and nearly 50% say they will select providers who offer telehealth options over those who don’t.
If your child has a minor illness and you can avoid taking them to an office of sick children, pulling them out of school for travel time and an office visit, and potentially having to miss a significant amount of work yourself, why wouldn’t you opt for a pediatrician who offered telemedicine?
Add services. Are you referring your patients out for services that you could offer at your clinic? Consider bringing those services in-house. Focus on areas of increasing need. In the case of allergies, at least 20% of Americans have allergies, and research shows that this figure is only increasing. Climate change is extending the pollen season, which exacerbates environmental allergies. And for a variety of reasons, food allergies are climbing so that they now affect an average of two students per classroom.
According to Medscape Business Magazine, two-thirds of people with allergies say they would rather get allergy treatment from their trusted primary care doctor than be referred to an allergist. You can bring safe, convenient allergy care to children—including those who aren’t yet eligible for allergy shots due to safety concerns—with a turnkey allergy treatment program incorporating sublingual immunotherapy. Sublingual immunotherapy is administered as under-the-tongue droplets that absorb into the bloodstream through cells in the mouth. Because of its safety profile, it can be dosed at home, saving families the hassle of driving to your office multiple times per week.
There is also a growing need for mental health services. An August 2021 report published in Jama Pediatrics revealed that the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the mental health of youngsters, with 1 in 4 youth suffering from depression and 1 in 5 suffering from anxiety.
Mental health services can be offered virtually or in-person. Families often find that getting mental health services at a medical clinic helps relieve some of the stigma of going to a mental health clinic. It allows youth to get the treatment they need in a familiar setting with a recommended provider and skip long waiting lists that are prevalent in the field of mental health now.
New year, new opportunities. If your clinic needs a reboot, incorporate these ideas to increase revenue in your pediatric medical practice in 2022.