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Surprise Success: Attitude Shift Lifts New Patient Appointments 41 Percent

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

communicate motivateWe just love to tell a good medical marketing success story, and this one has an unexpected punchline. Although the real world stage is an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) practice on the East Coast, the value lesson isn’t limited to otolaryngology marketing. The core concept is useful for nearly all medical practice owners and administrators.

Chapter One: The “Before” Picture

Our colleague and HSS Staff Training Director Zac Wright reports that the practice personnel were openly skeptical about the need for professional coaching sessions aimed at converting prospective patient phone inquiries to actual appointments.

Their new patient baseline average was 113, and everyone agreed there wasn’t much room for improvement. After all, the practice relied exclusively on internal sources of new patients including professional referrals, patient-to-patient referrals and doctor-to-doctor referrals. There's no water to be found in this well, they thought.

Nevertheless, training was part of the medical practice marketing plan, and they set a modest goal of 130 new patients for January.

Chapter Two: Program Highlights

It turns out, from an outside and unbiased perspective, that opportunity was indeed slipping through the cracks. Everyone honestly believed that their existing office procedures and staff skills were capturing each and every new patient appointment. But a fresh look, new techniques, admin adjustments and team guidance were immediately beneficial and quickly embraced.

In addition to staff training about proper call handling, the group practice:

  • changed how new patients are scheduled,
  • revised front office procedures to improve efficiency,
  • modified the balance of capacity and time blocks,
  • adjusted phone coverage for lunchtime and special days; and
  • instituted a staff recognition and incentive plan.

Chapter Three: Breakthrough Results

The first month’s results were astonishing for this practice. The former new-patient baseline average of 113 was now history. In fact, even the new goal of 130 was shattered. The actual count grew to 159 new patients—a 41 percent increase—and an all-time record.

Curtain Call

Through training and its far more effective program of converting inquiries into actual new patient appointments, this ENT practice is helping far more patients and operating more efficiently as well. The twist in this story is that hardly anyone believed it to be possible. The skeptical attitudes have been replaced by team enthusiasm.

A round of applause please for a staff that now knows how to smoothly and effectively handle inbound calls. They smoothly answer questions about procedures, insurance and price. And they know how to win new patient appointments.

UPDATE: At publication time, the doctor reported, “By the end of [February], I will most likely have seen 100 more patients than at the end of February last year, which is a huge improvement; almost an entire extra month's worth of patients in just 2 months!” The practice is likely to exceed its new goal for the year in the first three months.  

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