When faced with rising costs, staffing challenges, and patients who are putting off treatment for financial reasons, how can your new independent practice become recession proof? Rather than scaling back, most effective recession-proofing ideas involve being more visible and investing more in the technology that will engage your patients and make sure your bills are paid more quickly.
The rising cost of healthcare is affecting patients across the board, who may delay visits out of financial concerns. A survey conducted by WebMD in May 2022 revealed that almost 7 out of 10 adults in the US have put off medical care, including routine appointments and medical procedures, because of the cost. The survey found that:
- Individuals under the age of 45 were more likely to put off an appointment or procedure (77%) than those under 45 (58%)
- Women were more likely to put off healthcare (73%) than men (64%)
- 48% of all respondents said they had at some point compared the price of a physician or a procedure to try to find a more affordable option.
Regarding insurance coverage:
- 41% were insured through their employer/spouse’s employer
- 23% were covered though Medicare or Medicaid
- 16% said other, don’t know, or declined to answer
- 15% did not have health care coverage
- 6% had purchased their own insurance.
Almost half of the survey participants said they or someone in their household had a chronic medical condition and it was a financial hardship for them to have it treated.
Recession-proofing ideas for your new independent practice includes reaching out to these individuals who are concerned about the rising costs of care and who need to be seen on a regular basis for their own health and well-being. Ensuring that your new practice continues to be viewed as a caring, engaging option will be one of the main drivers for your success regardless of the economic environment.
It may seem counterintuitive to invest more in your practice during a recession. Most businesses will cut budgets and one of the first areas they’ll cut is marketing. However, if you continue to market your new independent practice consistently, you will generate more visibility and more confidence among patients regarding what your practice has to offer.
Using technology to engage patients will also help you survive and thrive in challenging economic times. Reach out to those patients who need preventive care as well as treatment for their chronic conditions, via your patient portal, direct messaging, and emails and newsletters. Point out the benefits of continued healthcare while reassuring them that you and your team are ready to help them.
Leveraging technology that enables the patient to view their medical records, to connect with practice team members, and to manage their billing and scheduling efficiently and seamlessly will give you the edge you need as you establish and grow your new independent practice. Communicating with patients directly, sending reminders about appointments and screenings that are coming due, and encouraging them to reach out to you with questions or concerns can be very effective in terms of marketing your new practice, especially to those patients who may be hesitant in the current economic environment.
When patients come in for an office visit, make the scheduling and billing process as easy as possible for them. Send out electronic bills and set up your practice website to give them the option of paying their bills online. While most patients do prefer to pay their medical bills electronically, very few providers have implemented billing software. Electronic billing and payment options will also help ensure you are paid more quickly.
Review your website and social media accounts to optimize your information for potential patients as well. Respond to online reviews promptly and encourage current patients to post reviews of their experiences with your new independent practices. Continuing to market throughout any economic downturn will help your new independent practice become financially sustainable as you develop a loyal and engaged patient panel.