This post was contributed by our friends at WebPT to help you jump start your marketing efforts during National Physical Therapy Month.
Typically when discussing electronic medical record (EMR) systems, people bring up the benefits of digital documentation: it’s easier, faster, and more organized, plus it looks better than the traditional pen-and-paper method. But that’s only the beginning of the great EMR discussion. The right EMR solution provides so much more than a just means of documenting effectively and efficiently. It can also help you market your practice. Here’s how:
According to the APTA’s Marketing to Health Care Professionals guide, 94% of consumers go directly to their primary care provider for pain or mobility concerns. Those providers—hopefully—then refer those patients to rehab therapists, which means referrals play a key role in your acquisition of new patients. Thus, in addition to marketing your practice to potential patients directly, you must also market to other medical professionals. And when it comes to any form of marketing, you should track your efforts.
Good EMR solutions take into account the importance of this, and that’s why they offer referral reporting. This feature allows you to attach the name of a particular physician to each patient he or she sends your way. Later, you can create a report identifying your best referral sources as well as those that probably need a little more networking attention.
Some EMRs also allow you to place your clinic’s logo on all of your digital documents, including physician notes. This not only gives you an extra bit of professional polish, but also puts your brand in front of referral sources on a consistent basis. Subtle, I know, but effective, because as any marketing pro will tell you, when it comes to branding, repetition is key.
If you’re not already doing so during the new patient intake process, start requesting patients’ email addresses and asking if they’d like to receive marketing emails from your practice. Just make sure this form is totally separate from your other medical paperwork; that way you’re playing it safe when it comes to new HIPAA regulations. You can then use your EMR to export entire lists of email addresses, which you can import into your email marketing service. This eliminates the tedious task of manual entry and maintenance.
Another way your EMR can help with emails? Some solutions (ahem, WebPT) let you know upcoming patient birthdays. That way you can send them happy birthday emails (or cards).
One important step in developing a marketing plan for your practice is determining what your key differentiators are—that is, what factors set you apart from your competition. Nowadays, technology is most certainly one of those factors. When you use a web-based EMR solution, you can document anywhere, anytime, from any web-enabled device, including an iPad. You can eliminate a lot of paper use in your office, going as far as to digitize the entire patient intake process and use an online home exercise program with emailable multimedia.
As patients become more tech savvy, they’re quickly expecting the same from their providers—with some even deciding who to seek care from based on that provider’s tech prowess and digital convenience. According to a 2012 national report titled “Making It Meaningful: How Consumers Value and Trust Health IT,” 80-97% of patients think that EMR software is beneficial. Furthermore, 73% of patients whose current practitioner keeps electronic records say that EMRs have a very or somewhat positive impact on the overall quality of the health care services they receive, whereas only 26% of patients whose practitioner documents on paper felt that paper equated to improved quality of care. Lastly, in terms of patient privacy, both groups believe that there’s value in electronic record management.
Based on these stats, it’s clear that patients want technologically progressive healthcare providers. Think about it: do prospective patients—especially millennials—want to see a PT with a clipboard, a slew of file cabinets, and stacks of charts? Or would they prefer to see their clinicians with iPads, a modern front office, and a resource conservation attitude?
If you’re a hi-tech practice, use that to your advantage and market it. If you’ve already made the switch to EMR, make sure you’re using it to the fullest extent. Check with the company to see how it can help you with the marketing efforts I’ve detailed above. If transitioning to an EMR is on your practice’s to-do list, make sure whatever solutions you vet are able to accomplish these marketing tasks. After all, an EMR should do more than provide a platform for documentation. It should help you be better in business.
About the Author
Charlotte Bohnett is the senior writer and content manager for WebPT, the leading web-based EMR solution designed specifically for the rehab community. She graduated summa cum laude from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. While working in marketing, Charlotte completed her thesis on business blogging and earned her Master of Science in Technical and Professional Communication from Lawrence Technological University. In 2012, Charlotte escaped the winter doldrums of the Midwest and returned to her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, to join the WebPT team.