Healthcare is a Business: Here’s How You Treat it Like One
The healthcare industry is all about the greater good, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still an industry. Providers often neglect good business sense for the sake of their practice, but that rarely helps anyone. A profitable company is a company that can do the most good, and that’s why it’s important to look out for your bottom line. Making sure your healthcare business is properly optimized can lead to greater financial success in the long run. The following advice can help you get on the right track.
The Healthcare Industry
The words “healthcare industry” often bring to mind hospitals and doctors, but actual medical practitioners are just one component of the industry. The sector also covers everything from equipment manufacturers to assisted living facilities to pharmacies. Practically anyone who provides medical services or products to patients or anyone who provides specialized equipment or services to those providers can fall under the umbrella of the healthcare industry.
If that sounds like a large purview, it is. Deloitte predicts that global healthcare spending will surpass $1 billion in 2019. Just because practitioners are interested in the well-being of their patients doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be looking out for their best interests as well. The most well-intentioned business can’t connect with customers without the right outreach, and that makes marketing your healthcare practice a top priority.
Finding a Quality Partner
Working in the healthcare industry requires wearing more hats than ever before. A healthcare provider working alone has to be their own marketer, administrator, and business manager. While some universities are beginning to offer a dual MD-MBA degree, chances are that most healthcare providers are medical professionals first and foremost. It can be valuable to bring in someone with a clearer head for business and let them handle the administrative work so that you can focus on practicing medicine.
Targeting Potential Customers
You can’t rely on anyone else to be your advocate. Because if you aren’t the one advertising your business, you’re bound to get crowded out by louder, more aggressive, and potentially inferior competitors. And in less critical subsets of the healthcare industry, there’s a high chance that customers might not even know the benefits of the product you provide. Only 8% of people visited a chiropractor in the last 12 months, which means 92% of people are potential customers that haven’t been touched. That’s a promising market, but it’s one that will go untapped without proper advertising. Online marketing, social media outreach, and strong web design are crucial if you want to identify who isn’t using your service and why.
Understanding the Economics
The drama around the Affordable Care Act has created a lot of uncertainty in the healthcare market, and there will likely be continued confusion for some time to come. The state of the ACA can have a major effect on the insurance policies of your patients and potentially impact the scale of your business. While opinions are split on the effectiveness of the ACA, there’s little doubt that its future success or failure will have a major effect on how the healthcare system works looking forward. Everyone involved in the industry needs to be following these changes closely, evaluating the impact it can have on their business, and planning strategically for how they can adjust the standards of their business model.
Identifying the Right Technologies
Technology is changing how the healthcare industry operates, and anyone who doesn’t stay ahead of the curve is practically doomed to failure. But the technology that’s right for your office will depend on the size and nature of your business model. Hospitals and national-level healthcare organizations are increasingly investing in big data solutions and sinking their money into increasingly sophisticated health information technology they can use to track the state of their patients, but there are opportunities for smaller members of the healthcare community as well. These can include using a variety of channels such as texting and social media to provide more convenient engagement between doctor and patient. Telehealth allows healthcare providers to expand their geographical reach to patients by taking advantage of the internet.
Bringing in Specialists
While bringing in a partner to oversee your operations can be a huge boon for a healthcare company, many businesses will develop in ways that require talents that the current owners simply don’t possess. A two-person operation can only take things so far, but recurring costs for an expanding staff can quickly become expensive. Whether you’re considering bringing on an accountant or a marketing firm, you need to carefully consider which professional talent will help your business grow and which will just be an additional burden of costs. You can further mitigate your costs through the use of private contractors rather than having to deal with the process of onboarding new staff.
Maintaining Relationships with Customers
Finding new customers is an obvious necessity for any business that’s looking to grow, but few companies can survive if they can’t manage to retain their customers. There’s a reason why so many healthcare offices send out postcards to their patients to remind them of checkups, but that traditional method of customer outreach is just scratching the surface of the modern options available.
Client portals are a great way to remind your patients about future visits and keep them coming back regularly, but email marketing can be just as important a form of outreach, both to new patients and recurring ones. Through the use of an outside firm or a customer relationship management (CRM) software platform, you can automate the process of reaching out to your existing patients and provide them with the sort of targeted content that can help them improve their health while also building a sense of trust with your office. You should also take the opportunity to ask your patients to review their experience with your office. Whether positive or negative, customer reviews can generate new business and allow you to better serve current patients.
The business aspect of the healthcare business is a necessary inconvenience for many professionals, but it’s necessary nonetheless. While it’s important to make sure that your profits stay in the black, finding the balance between helping patients and helping your business grow can be a careful tightrope to walk.