Where is Everyone? – A Guide to Surviving the Recall Drought
If you’re facing a lean appointment schedule for the next few months, you’re not alone. Practices the world over are discovering the pandemic has seriously messed with their yearly checkups. Now more than ever, it’s important to have a robust marketing strategy to bring patients in the door.
Where Did Everyone Go?
This is a question we’ve been hearing a lot lately.
As the dust from the pandemic finally begins to settle, we’re increasingly having to come to terms with the “new normal” of eye care post-COVID. One strange unforeseen consequence of the pandemic is the dreaded “Recall Gap” created by the perfect storm of COVID restrictions placed on eye care practices last year. Patient appointments were delayed by two to three months from March to May in 2020. Now that we’re almost a year out, doctors are looking at their calendars only to find a lot of coinciding blank spaces where a healthy stream of staggered yearly appointments would be.
Help is On the Way!
If this sounds like you, don’t panic! This is a problem the entire industry is facing right now, so you’re in good company. Luckily for you, EyeCarePro has some winning strategies to help you bounce back quickly.
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After enduring months of lockdown – not to mention a serious case of cabin fever – it’s easy to see why some of your usual patients probably didn’t reschedule their appointment after COVID cancellations last year. A friendly reminder to patients they should come in for their yearly checkup can go a long way. It puts you back in their field of view, gets them back in the door and helps you maintain that patient relationship. As we’ve discussed previously when tackling no-shows, the best way to make sure your patient gets the message is to use a multi-pronged approach.
Patient Management Software
If you’re using patient management tools like DemandForce, Weave or Solution Reach, go through your patient records, select those who haven’t been in for over a year and set it to send out reminders. You can also send out an email blast to all of your patients reminding them to schedule their yearly appointments. Make sure you add a fantastic call to action and links that allow them to either schedule an appointment online, or call your practice and set one up.
Call or Text
If patients don’t seem to be picking up your emails, try a more direct approach. Designate a staff member to call patients and get them booked for appointments. If it doesn’t make sense to call your patients, shoot them a quick reminder text instead. Contrary to what you might expect, 83 percent of patients find it beneficial to receive reminder texts from their doctors.
The easier you make it for your patients to set up an exam, the more likely they’ll follow through. If you don’t get a response at first, give it a few days and then follow up with your patients. Sometimes it just takes a bit of a nudge to get them to reply. Just don’t spam them with dozens of texts and emails!
Bonus Tip: Phone calls offer an excellent opportunity to gather extra information with follow up questions. This can help your staff diagnose issues and make the patient’s visit much smoother. A happy customer is the perfect candidate to ask for a positive Google review!
Target Patients By Insurance Type
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Efficient billing and insurance reporting is essential to a successful practice. This is precisely one of those times where it comes in handy.
Targeting patients by their insurance type is a great way to get them in a little early. Some of them may not realize their insurance renews on January 1st. If they come in now, it gives them one less thing on their to do list for later. Best of all, it can effectively shift that patient’s annual appointment so you can start refilling the Recall Gap in future years.
Have a staff member go through insurance records and pull out any patients with plans that have annual renewals, but don’t require a minimum of 12 months between checkups. Reach out to these patients and inform them you have earlier appointment slots available.
Keep Your Patients Posted
What’s free, easy and carries no inherent risk? Posting on Instagram and Facebook to tell patients you have open appointments for March and April!
More than likely, you’ll find a few of your patients are more than willing to schedule their appointments a bit earlier to make room on their calendar later. Make sure to include a link so your followers can schedule an appointment. If you have a live scheduler or an interactive appointment calendar, link to those too.
Did You Know?
EyeCarePro offers live schedulers for your website with GetSetSchedule! Let your patients browse a full list of available appointments that’s updated in real time, then schedule one with the click of a button. Setting up an appointment has never been easier or more convenient! Give us a call at 201.591.4350 and let’s get started!
Run A Promo
Everyone loves a good deal. If your practice is hurting for foot traffic, there’s no better way to bring people in than a good ol’ fashioned promotion. In the past, many of our clients have had a lot of success with One Day Sales Blitzes designed to get patients in the door as quickly as possible. Try it out for yourself and watch the patients flock to your practice!
For a great example of a promotion done right, check out Dunlap Vision’s Patient Appreciation Day. From getting the word out about special offers, to execution of special events, Dunlap Vision sets the standard for successful promotions. Even though COVID-19 restrictions might prevent an event of this scope in the near future, there’s still a lot to learn from Dunlap Vision about how to set up and build awareness for unique promotions.
Get New Patients with Pay Per Click Ads
As the old adage goes: out of sight, out of mind. In the age of Google Search, visibility is everything. EyeCarePro knows full well that a single search engine rank can be the difference between a full practice and an absolute ghost town. When people search for eye care in your area, you need to appear first. Pay Per Click advertising is a guaranteed way to rocket your practice’s listing to the top of the search engine page. If you want to grow your practice with new patients – especially if you’re trying to fill the Recall Gap – Pay Per Click advertising is the way to go.
When It Rains, It Pours
Need a little help ending your Recall Drought? EyeCarePro has years of experience helping practices just like yours drum up a regular deluge of patients. From eye-catching social media campaigns, to data-driven, patient-oriented website designs, we specialize in recapturing recalls. We’ll assign you a personal marketing manager dedicated to helping you grow your practice with strategies uniquely tailored to your needs.
Whether you need help re-targeting your existing patients, or want to bring in new patients by the gallon, we can make it happen. Give us a call at 201.591.4350 and let’s flood those waiting rooms!
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