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This is the time of year when censuses at hospitals and wait times at doctor’s offices go up, up, up. Wintertime and springtime are when ailments such as colds, allergies, and the flu hit patients hard. Though your workload may be increasing, did you know that this is an ideal time to make the most out of your medical marketing strategy? Many patients do not know that when they visit a specialist, such as an ophthalmologist or ENT physician, they can be treated for more than just dry eye or allergies. As physicians, it is up to you to take initiative and market these services in order to maximize your patients’ satisfaction and keep them from walking into the office of another competitor for something you could have treated yourself!

Chances are high that during this time of year you’ll be seeing lots of new faces. Many people do not darken the doorway of a doctor’s office unless they feel ill. Out of state travelers who come through your area may have to make a stop because of illness as well. In this day and age, these people no longer need to visit the closest physician they can find. They will be talking to friends and coworkers or getting onto Google Places to search for reviews and recommendations, thus becoming one of your greatest marketing opportunities.

If you have a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, or any other social media outlet, it is good practice to address some common seasonal medical topics in order to keep your patients informed and healthy. An aesthetic practice’s blog might post about ways to prevent the skin from drying out in the cold weather. An ENT clinic’s blog might talk about some common housecleaning tips for keeping allergies at bay. Not only is this a cost-effective healthcare marketing strategy, it is a way to get in touch with those potential patients who may not be familiar with your practice otherwise. Promoting a healthy lifestyle is the easiest way to increase patient satisfaction. You are showing your patients that you care in addition to reminding them that you are available to see them if they feel ill.

If your practice offers a variety of services, are you getting the word out to your patients? Does a patient who visits an ENT clinic for a sinus infection know that he or she can also be allergy tested there? If not, you may be missing out on a valuable opportunity. Consider sending out a personalized flyer or email as a reminder. During this time of the year, specialized physicians are competing with general practitioners and urgent care clinics for business and losing out. Why? There are several reasons.

Market presence is a major factor. More and more medical practices are offering ancillary services to their patients. If a patient considering aesthetic services comes into your ophthalmology practice for an eye exam, it’s unlikely that she will be thinking about this at the time of her visit unless you take the time to ask. She might not realize that your office offers a variety of services and instead make an appointment elsewhere for the aesthetic services you provide. This is potential revenue walking out the door.

Convenience is another factor. The patient may not want to drive across town to visit your practice when he can simply go across the street and be seen by a GP. That is why it is important to get the word out to your patients in a quick and convenient manner. In lieu of an email, another option to consider is posting a bulletin of all your services in an easily accessible location, like your waiting room.

If the wait times at your office are high this time of year, how are you reaching out to those who choose not to wait? Oftentimes sick patients needing doctor’s notes and quick prescriptions visit hospital emergency rooms and urgent care clinics because they can be seen the same day their symptoms develop. Sometimes the length of the wait is simply out of your hands, but be mindful. Have your staff encourage patients to come to you later for a follow up visit, especially those who cannot or will not wait to be seen.

Keep in mind that the key to increased patient referrals, especially during the winter and spring seasons, is all-star service. Even though you may only see many of your patients once or twice a year, you can never predict how many word of mouth referrals might stem from a single visit! MindStream Creative is here to help you increase those referrals. We will develop a marketing strategy that custom fits the services your patients might not be aware you offer. By helping you keep them informed, we will ensure that your referral count goes up and your patients leave happy.