5 Ways Family Medicine & Primary Care Practices Can Increase Patient Acquisition

Reading Time: 6 minutes

By Chloe From Clearwave | June 3, 2024

Family medicine and primary care practices serve as the front line of healthcare for patients of all ages. From annual check-ups to treating illnesses and injuries, these practices play a vital role in keeping communities healthy. However, in an increasingly competitive healthcare world, it’s essential for family medicine and primary care offices to focus on patient acquisition strategies to grow their practice and serve more people in need of quality care. Keep reading to learn five key ways these practices can attract new patients and keep them coming back!

1. Offer Online Self-Scheduling for 24/7 Patient Accessibility

One of the most effective ways for family medicine practices to acquire new patients is by offering online self-scheduling. Many people, especially busy parents, search for available appointments online during evenings and weekends when they have time. However, this is also when most family medicine offices are closed. By providing a user-friendly Primary Care Patient Scheduling Platform on your website, you enable prospective patients to book appointments whenever it’s convenient for them, 24/7 — which has been shown to boost bookings.

Online scheduling is particularly important for attracting patients with sick children. When a child spikes a fever or displays worrying symptoms in the middle of the night, parents often go online to try to schedule a doctor’s appointment for the next day. Family medicine and primary care practices offering online booking are much more likely to capture these new patients. Even if your office isn’t open when they’re searching, you can let them schedule the next available slot. The scheduling experience is the digital front door to your practice and it’s essential to make sure it’s always open.

The importance of online self-scheduling is underscored by the fact that 76% of practices attest to a positive ROI from implementing patient self-service scheduling, highlighting its effectiveness and efficiency. This statistic demonstrates that not only does online scheduling benefit patients, but it also yields tangible financial benefits for practices.

Furthermore, a Primary Care Collaborative report shows that 46% of patients between the ages of 18-34 state they have no usual source of primary care (USC). Over the past few years, the overall average number of patients without a USC has increased 60% across age groups. This alarming trend emphasizes the growing challenge primary care practices face in attracting and retaining loyal patients.

In light of these statistics, it’s clear that offering online self-scheduling is a crucial strategy for primary care practices looking to increase patient acquisition. By providing a convenient, accessible scheduling option, practices can appeal to younger patients and those without a usual source of care, ultimately helping to build a loyal patient base in an increasingly competitive healthcare landscape.

2. Streamline New Patient Registration

Streamlining the new patient registration process is crucial for family medicine practices looking to attract and retain patients. With parents bringing in multiple children or dealing with sick children, having a fast check-in process will make a world of a difference. Forcing new patients to fill out a lengthy intake packet by hand in the waiting room creates a frustrating experience that may cause some to not follow through with their appointment. Reducing patient check-in times and crowded waiting rooms will help you keep new patients loyal and increase overall patient retention. By implementing online pre-registration forms and in-office self-service kiosks, practices can significantly reduce check-in times and create a welcoming experience that values patients’ time.

Online patient registration forms allow new patients to complete their intake before they set foot in your office. In addition to contact information and medical history, give new patients the option to scan their insurance card and ID, as well as electronically sign consent forms. This digital process not only saves time for your staff, but creates a welcoming experience that shows new patients that your practice values their time. A smooth registration process helps you make a positive first impression that encourages patients to keep coming back to your family practice, and as an added bonus has also been shown to help increase collections.

To further streamline the registration process, consider implementing self-service kiosks in your office. Kiosks allow patients to check-in quickly and easily, without needing to wait in line or interact with staff. Southview Medical Group saw remarkable results after implementing these solutions. Daniel Chattom, Clinical Systems Manager, shares that patients quickly adopted self-check-in, resulting in an average check-in time under 2 minutes. Nearly half of patients completed pre-check, leading to in-office registration times under a minute and a half. Impressively, Southview Medical Group also saw 91% of co-pays collected at check-in, demonstrating the financial benefits of streamlining the registration process.

Offering simplified self-registration at your office, using patient kiosks for example, will further help streamline the new and existing patient registration process. Patients can walk in, sign in at the kiosk, make any payments and get to their provider or their child’s provider right away. 

3. Send Automated Appointment Reminders

No-shows and last-minute cancellations can badly impact your family medicine practice’s bottom line. Missed appointments not only lead to lost revenue, but they also prevent other patients from being seen in those slots. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution for primary care practices: automated appointment reminders.

With appointment reminder software offered you can automatically send patients text, email and phone reminders about their upcoming visits. Sending a reminder a few days before the appointment and another the day before has been shown to significantly reduce no-shows. Make sure your reminders include an option where patients can quickly confirm their appointment with a single click. This not only minimizes no-shows but also allows your practice to easily fill any slots that do open up, boosting retention and maximizing provider schedules. While you may be already using some form of appointment reminder technology, consider what you need in a solution to truly see results. 

4. Recall Dormant Patients Due for Care

Attracting new patients is undeniably important, but retaining your existing patients is just as crucial to scaling practice growth. Family medicine practices can increase patient recall rates by using a communication system to automatically identify and reach out to dormant patients who haven’t been in for an appointment in a set time period and may be due for preventive care or follow-up.

For example, you could have your communications platform automatically send a friendly “We’ve missed you!” message to any patients who haven’t been in for over a year, inviting them to schedule their next check-up. You can also send targeted recall messages for patients overdue for important preventive screenings like annual physicals. Proactive patient recall helps you boost retention by showing patients that your primary care practice is looking out for their long-term health.

5. Collect & Promote Positive Patient Reviews

In today’s digital age, online reviews play a huge role in how new patients choose a family medicine provider. A survey found that 72% of patients use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor. This patient preference means your practice’s online reputation directly impacts your new patient acquisition.

To build up your collection of positive reviews, ask your satisfied patients to rate their experience with your practice on popular review sites like Google and Healthgrades. Your patients’ experience, from scheduling all the way through to check-out and payments will heavily impact your patient reviews. 

One study shares, 73% of patients say they keep a “mental scorecard” of all the things they like and dislike about a new doctor’s office including, timeliness, friendliness of the staff and use of modern technology. With these patient preferences, family practices are recognizing the importance of building a strong digital front door, with patient self-scheduling, self-registration, custom communications and more. This webinar on “Give Your Staff Superpowers with Patient Self-Service”, Chief Executive Officer at Metrolina Eye shares how their practice improved their digital front door and is seeing improvements to their reviews as a result. Watch the conversation to see what could work at your family medicine or primary practice.

Once you have a strong foundation of positive patient reviews, feature them prominently on your practice website and social media pages. Glowing reviews and high star ratings serve as powerful social proof that helps convince prospective new patients to give your practice a try.

Fuel Family Medicine & Primary Care Patient Acquisition Success

As the healthcare industry becomes increasingly competitive and patient-driven, family medicine and primary care practices must adapt their strategies to successfully attract and retain patients. Clearwave’s comprehensive Patient Revenue Platform™ offers the tools practices need to thrive in this new landscape. 

By leveraging Clearwave’s solutions for online scheduling, streamlined registration, automated appointment reminders, targeted patient recall, and reputation management, your practice can optimize the patient experience from start to finish. Get a demo today to learn more!

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