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How Covid-19 Can Drive Innovation For Your Medical Practice

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One day we’ll look back and say, “we lived through the coronavirus outbreak of 2020”. While the media highlights the losses, I’d like to talk about the opportunity that also exists.  

The silver lining of a chaotic situation will be the ‘forced’ innovation that is already occurring across almost every industry and business around the world. For example, the princess party service I used just 2 months ago to bring Cinderella to my daughters 4th birthday party is now offering a ‘15 minute video call with a princess’ for $60, Zoom group princess parties for $20, and princess video voicemails for $10. My prediction is that when everything goes back to normal, these ‘virtual’ offerings will not only continue but may end up being the most scalable and most profitable area of the business.

Although healthcare is one of the ‘exempt‘ sectors nationwide, everything has changed and most every medical practice will take a hit. Therefore it is important that we all innovate our service and business as quickly as possible. And if we do it well, the innovations may become a permanent aspect of the business and may even open up new revenue streams.

Virtual Offerings:

  1. Virtual consultations – Whether they are complimentary or paid, a virtual consultation should align with what you do in your practice already and be either the same or less expensive than the in person alternative. Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype video calls are all HIPAA compliant. If you are going to bill insurance there are also a number of telemedicine platforms, many of which will integrate into your practice management/EMR platform and billing services. When video chatting with your patients, ensure that sure you’re in a quiet and clean space and that the background is appropriate.
  2. Virtual follow ups with all patients you recently treated. With everything getting so hectic over the last few weeks you want to make sure all of your recent patients are healing well with no complications and are happy with their treatment.
  3. Virtual check-ins every day the staff and/or practitioners should check in with a set number of patients each. This can be a quick review of the patients most recent treatments, and a personal outreach (phone, text, or email) to see how they are doing and if there is anything you can do to help. Perhaps start with 3 patients per day per staff member as a goal and see how it goes.
  4. Complimentary skincare assessments with an aesthetician or expert inside of the practice. Assessments should end with a formal digital 12 month treatment plan and recommended products and at-home treatments.
  5. Online (ecommerce) skincare sales. Set up an ecommerce platform on your website or a new shopify website, use RegimenPro which handles the sales and fulfillment for you, or just start taking a credit card over the phone and ship skincare from your office. Use the skincare orders you get as an opportunity to personally connect with your patients, for example you can include a short handwritten note (use gloves!) with some tips and tricks on how to use the product. These little touches are the type of service they won’t get from ordering from amazon or sephora.com.
  6. Sell gift cards at a promotional rate for people who aren’t sure what they want to commit to now, but are willing to invest for a future ‘deal’. People still have birthdays, and Mother’s Day is right around the corner and we all still need to get our mothers a nice present.
  7. Create electronic products – Incentivize your staff to come up with electronic products of their own to sell. Many people are home with lots more time on their hands than they normally would have. This is a time where creative ideas can flourish, even more so if they are properly incentivized. Hold a staff contest where the winner’s e-guide gets published and they share in a percentage of the profits (where allowed by law).
  8. Host a virtual event where patients can pay to attend on Zoom. First an introduction, then the doctor can give a presentation, next the viewers can take turns asking questions, then a live demonstration, and finally breakout ‘rooms’ on Zoom to have a 1:1 with a treatment coordinator and/or the doctor to determine a unique treatment plan. Put down a deposit and set up a monthly payment plan. Leave with a 12 month treatment AND skincare regimen.

 

Marketing Opportunities:

  1. Create content – write blogs, record videos, social media posts, and develop case reports that can be used for social media, the website, and email marketing. Make a goal to develop enough to pre-schedule for the rest of 2020. You could even develop drip email campaigns for various interests / treatments or just a generic one. Now more than ever you have time to develop content, so even a daily LIVE on facebook and instagram where patients can ask questions would be great.
  2. Help patients with quarantine concerns by sharing knowledge about at-home waxing, Clarisonic and home peels and masks to replace a facial, at home blue and red lights and lasers. If you will be recommending any at-home devices, set up either a referral link to their store or order inventory and sell yourself!
  3. Update your website – review your current website content and update it to match your latest philosophy and techniques. This is a project almost everyone probably has had on their list for years, so what better time than now to make it happen! Try to ensure every page of your website has 800+ words and you have a unique page/article about each and every treatment offered.
  4. Answer FAQs on Realself.com and in other online forums to get your name out there and join the conversations. While you’re on RealSelf, make sure to upload as many of your consented before/after photos as possible as well!
  5. Set up call tracking and recording – A must have for any practice investing money in marketing, interested in the success of their practice, and especially useful if people are working remotely. We recommend callrail.com or callcap.com.
  6. Listen to recorded calls, take notes and then meet 1:1 with each staff member to discuss and brainstorm areas to improve. Continue weekly with set goals and benchmarks for each person.
  7. Review any current public promotions and consider ending early or removing entirely. You may have them listed on your website, social media, Yelp, and or Google ads.
  8. Review current advertising spend such as Google PPC, Yelp ads, and Realself spotlights. All of which you can easily cancel or pause except Realself which is under a long-term contract. Yelp is even offering a great giveback of $300 in credit if you put a resumed start date vs canceling altogether. As a certified Yelp agency, we can help if you would like.
  9. Offer incentives to pay now in full or place a deposit down for future treatments. Make sure to develop written rules for this, including a return and exchange policy as well as expiration date that is realistic and reasonable.

 

Personal and Staff Development:

  1. Personal development for you and your team through book clubs. My recommendation for the first book is definitely The Checklist Manifesto, a fabulous read related to the medical industry but very focused on continual process improvements. And management can read about leadership skills, such as the book Dare to Lead
  2. Continued education – Practitioners can do digital CME activities and journal clubs. Many conferences will be going fully virtual so it may be an opportunity to ‘attend’ a conference that beforehand may have been too far to travel to.
  3. Team building – Daily or weekly group and 1:1 video chats to discuss big picture topics, brainstorm together, share perspectives and/or even just for some group yoga or stretching time. This is a stressful time for everyone, so the more you can do to support your team the better.
  4. Reflect on your WHY, the business’ “why”,  individually and as a group. Watch Simon Sinak’s The Why and or this updated shorter variation. The first goal is to understand WHY we do what we do, then we need to Believe it, then we can Live it, and finally we can Inject it in everything we do. A few other great videos to help inspire the process: Think Different by Steve Jobs, Launching the Iphone by Steve Jobs, and Frank Abingdale’s true story
  5. Work on your mission, vision, and values – Individually and as a group with your entire team. Once done, write them down, keep them present, and confer with them for every major business decision.
  6. Create a vision board for the practice, and maybe have each person do one individually.
  7. Volunteer at local hospitals and healthcare facilities who likely need people and supplies.

 

Internal Business Operations:

  1. Set up a virtual chat platform like Slack.com to allow everyone on your team to connect virtually. Create unique channels for different areas of the practice, topics, and even one for the ‘breakroom’.
  2. Set up project management software – Ideal for management, marketing, and overall to keep track of tasks and goals. There are hundreds of options but here are a few to get you started, but here are the most popular platforms available.
  3. Update your business financial projections and forecasting for 2020 and run scenarios based on various return to ‘normal’ dates. 
  4. Review contracts with vendors and ensure they are up to date and accurate. All HR contacts and the handbook should be reviewed and updated as needed. Discuss extended payment terms with big vendors such as Allergan and Galderma.
  5. Consider switching practice management / emr softwares. It is a big process that takes a lot of time and is difficult to do during a normal busy schedule, so this might be the best possible time!
  6. Set up our online scheduling for appointments if not in place already. Ideally it is a platform that can sync with your practice management software, such as nextpatient for nextech. 
  7. Creating / updating pre and post treatment guidelines for every procedure at the practice. This is another project that often gets pushed to the backburner, but is definitely a good investment to help support patients through their experience and also reduce calls and emails asking questions!
  8. Review options for SBA loans and apply to have the option even if you don’t end up using. 
  9. Develop a ‘return to business’ marketing plan and checklist When everything goes back to ‘normal’, what needs to be turned back on or off? Email, social and website announcement plan. Maybe plan a “kick-off” event.

 

Chaos and disruption can lead to innovation. Not only does it help to focus on positives instead of only negatives, but it will likely also improve your business for the long run.

 

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