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Updated Nov 30, 2023

5 Patient Acquisition Strategies

Find more patients for your practice through internet-based strategies such as ads, SEO, web content, reviews, social media and online reputation management.

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Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
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Editor Reviewed
This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

Table of Contents

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When you first opened your medical practice, you probably assumed a patient base would materialize for you to serve. Perhaps now that you’re in the trenches of running a practice, you know it’s not so simple. In reality, patient acquisition can be a challenge. 

We’ll explore innovative patient acquisition strategies – particularly digital approaches – that can help you rise to the challenge and bring in more patients.

5 strategies to improve your patient acquisition

Some or all of the following strategies for bringing in new patients may prove effective:

1. Use internet ads to find new patients.

Let’s say you’re a neurologist in Raleigh, and someone in your area searches for “neurologist Raleigh.” What do you think will happen if a competitor’s neurology practice ranks higher in the customer’s search results than yours? Better yet, what if you never had to think about the answer? 

Enter Google Ads – just one of many types of internet ads that can help you target potential new patients. Google Ads places you at the top of relevant user queries. You can localize these and other internet ads to target people in your market.  

Similarly, run ads on social media to catch potential patients when they’re not consciously searching for medical assistance. For example, someone who’s been experiencing nerve pain might finally feel compelled to act if an ad for your practice jumps out from their Facebook feed.

Did You Know?Did you know
Aside from Facebook ads, Facebook for Business tools include Facebook Business Pages, boosted posts, and the Workplace internal team collaboration tool.

2. Create SEO-friendly web content to draw in new patients.

Let’s say you don’t want to spend money on ads targeting potential new patients. You can still take steps to outrank competitors in internet searches for free. The answer lies in SEO and web content. 

First, determine some common phrases for which your target audience searches. Then, incorporate these phrases naturally into the text on your social media pages and business website.

It’s important to create a steady stream of web content where you can insert key search phrases. Your practice’s blog posts – most business websites should incorporate a blog – are an excellent solution. If you write about topics relevant to your target audience and include pertinent phrases, your chances of outranking your competitors increase. And you don’t have to spend money to write blogs or come up with phrases for which people might be searching.

Another way to maximize SEO is to ensure your practice's website is mobile-friendly, as Google prioritizes mobile page load speed.

3. Highlight your positive online reviews to attract new patients.

Whether via paid internet ads or on your website, highlighting excellent reviews from your current patients is key to acquiring new ones. That’s not just supposition: 90% of people choose which businesses to use based on customer reviews, according to a Zendesk-sponsored study from Dimensional Research. 

Your practice is a business, and it’s as susceptible to reviews as any other. When you proudly display positive online reviews on your practice website’s homepage, you immediately show your trustworthiness. This is a great way to get new patients in the door quickly.

If a patient posts a negative customer review, turn it into a positive by apologizing for their experience, empathizing with them, and asking for a second chance.

4. Maintain a strong social media presence to acquire new patients.

Social media is unique in that people can randomly stumble upon new and interesting accounts while browsing their platforms of choice. In such an open environment, you only have a few seconds to make a meaningful impression. Don’t be afraid to load your social media pages with crisp images, infographics, videos and visual quotes that attest to your services.

Better yet, social media often allows you to analyze how well your content is performing with potential patients. Many platforms include analytics tools that tell you how many people saw your content and how many people further engaged with it. You can uncover engagement trends that point to which types of content interest people most and upload similar posts to attract new customers.

5. Build a strong online reputation to attract new patients.

Through online reputation management, you can build a pristine web presence that helps persuade potential patients to contact you. The best online reputation management services handle the content creation tactics and help you get more patient reviews while addressing negative ones. These services can also offer public relations (including crisis management) and remove negative content.

Some online reputation management services are tailored specifically to patient acquisition and the medical sector. One such company, PatientPop, recently merged with Kareo, one of the best electronic medical records (EMR) software providers. This merger means you’ll get built-in tools for patient acquisition when you use Kareo’s medical software, known for its ease of use. (Read our Kareo review to learn more about this software.) 

Using these tools is an excellent way to acquire patients, care for them, and retain them – all under one roof.

To streamline your medical billing process, invest in staff training, explain fees and personal financial obligations to patients, and implement an electronic medical records system.

What is patient acquisition?

Patient acquisition encompasses all strategies your practice implements to bring in new patients. It primarily involves marketing efforts that spotlight your medical practice’s distinguishing features and how they differ from your competitors. Its focus is on patients who have never before used your services, rather than your existing patient base.

Why is patient acquisition important?

Many practices – perhaps including yours – earn their reimbursements via a standard fee-for-service model. Under this model, your practice’s revenue increases as you see more patients. This arrangement presents a significant challenge, assuming most of your patients are healthy: How often can you really get your patients to make appointments? Probably not that often, which isn’t great for your revenue. Acquiring new patients can help.

The more patients you bring into your practice, the more appointments you can make. When you have more appointments, you can earn more revenue. It’s easier to turn a profit when you can source appointments from a wider pool of patients than the same core group.

You could argue that the emergence of value-based healthcare models through the government’s MIPS (Merit-Based Incentive Payment System) program lessens the need for patient acquisition. But that argument is flawed. Yes, MIPS can increase your reimbursement per patient, but seeing more patients is still a direct throughline to greater revenue. MIPS can also decrease your reimbursement per patient. In that case, patient acquisition could help stabilize your finances.

What’s the difference between patient acquisition and patient retention? 

While patient acquisition concerns solely potential new customers, patient retention concerns only your current patients. All patient acquisition initiatives seek to bring you new patients, whereas patient retention efforts seek to prevent current patients from abandoning you for a competitor. (You also need to acquire patients before you can retain them.)

A patient acquisition strategy could involve aiming to place your practice’s website higher in search engine results pages for relevant local queries. That’s because people searching for, say, “podiatrist Brooklyn” are clearly looking for a new doctor. If you’re a podiatrist, you could be that person. 

Chances are your current patients aren’t searching for “podiatrist Brooklyn” – well, unless they’re unhappy with you. Patient retention strategies help keep them happy. They require positive, attentive patient interactions with front-office staff and medical personnel. Your front-office staff can also schedule future appointments as patients leave or call them when a new appointment is necessary to maximize retention.

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Max Freedman, Business Operations Insider and Senior Analyst
Max Freedman has spent nearly a decade providing entrepreneurs and business operators with actionable advice they can use to launch and grow their businesses. Max has direct experience helping run a small business, performs hands-on reviews and has real-world experience with the categories he covers, such as accounting software and digital payroll solutions, as well as leading small business lenders and employee retirement providers. Max has written hundreds of articles for Business News Daily on a range of valuable topics, including small business funding, time and attendance, marketing and human resources.
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