Growing a practice takes time, money, or both. For the purposes of this post, we’ll assume that we want to spend time and save money. Ideally, the Ophthalmologist personally carries out all strategies. But, depending on time constraints and personalities involved, some of these can absolutely be delegated to a friendly staff member.
Network with other physicians
Visit them in their offices. Sound daunting? Ideas here on how the logistics work and getting the most out of these visits. Start with Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatricians if you see kids, ObGyns, Neurologists, Rheumatologists, and Endocrinologists. Visit Optometrists, too. Let them know that you won’t steal their patients; that you are happy to operate on their patients and return them. Visit urgent care centers.
Attend medical staff meetings and mixers at the hospitals where you are on staff. If they have CME lectures, attend a few and then offer to present/collaborate on a case. If you are willing to come to the hospital, offer inpatients consults. Meet the Emergency Medicine physicians and Hospitalists. Ask the physician liaison at the hospital if there are other ways to plug into the medical staff.
Become a trusted resource for the general public
Write articles about common eye ailments for local newspapers and magazines. Repurpose them for your social media and website. Keep your website and social media fresh with content. It can be simple content. Write about things that patients ask you about. How to manage dry eyes? How can I reduce my glaucoma risk? What do I do if I scratch my eye? How can I improve the appearance of droopy eyelids? When do I need readers? Why is my night vision bad? Why are my eyes tired at the end of the day? Can my diet affect my eyesight? The American Academy of Ophthalmology has great information written for the general public. These are great to use on your social media with proper credit to the organization.
Attend events at your local Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and other community groups. Most of these organizations will allow you to visit before joining. Don’t talk about yourself first. Ask people questions about their business and get to know them. Then, share what you do. Being a speaker for these kinds of groups can be great marketing as well. Find out the culture of the group first from someone involved so you know when and how to approach this.
Send out a press release announcing your practice to local media, through a service like PR Web or EIN, and add it to your website + social. Include details about a disease/treatment that you love. If you enjoy treating glaucoma, talk about the disease in the press release, why it is rewarding to care for those patients, and how you uniquely treat it.
Reach out to local employers and offer to do free talks on Eye Health. HR and Employee Health are usually your two best places to start. Use the material for your talk on your website and in your social media.
Offer same day and next day appointments. Include this verbiage on your website, on social, and in any advertisements.
When you visit other doctors, hand-write your cell phone on your business card in front of them.
Be sure you are properly listed on hospital and surgery center websites where you are on staff so people can find you. The medical staff office or marketing department can usually help with this. Update all your online profiles, starting with Google Business. Details on that here. If your reviews aren’t great on those sites, improve them. Ideas for that here.
Offer 7 am appointments or 5 pm appointments (and maybe take a day off or an afternoon off for yourself). Most commercially insured people work Monday – Friday 8 am – 5 pm. Make it easy for them to see you.
If you are a decent clinician, kind to patients, and nice to other doctors, your practice will grow. And, be sure your staff treats your patients just as well as you do.
You can do this
These strategies can absolutely be carried out by an Ophthalmologist and his or her team. We are here to help, if needed. We are happy to carry out all of the strategies and manage the logistics. We are also happy to train your staff to do it or just answer questions. You can do this and we are here for you.