Practice Differentiation: Seven Areas of Best Practice

The most important asset you have as a business owner/administrator is the people that work for you and the brand that you create to support your patients. The question we’re asked most often as practice consultants is “How can we set our practice apart from our competition and protect ourselves from industry disruptors?”

Below are the seven key areas we recommend practice leaders focus on to differentiate themselves and ultimately, grow their businesses:

1. Industry

Get involved with our industry at a broader level, either with national organizations, local boards, or philanthropic events in your community. As we all know, a lot is happening regarding policies and regulations on Medicare coverage and over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid options. Lobbying can help amplify our voices as industry experts. Stay up to date with the latest research and clinical trials or join an advisory council (like the Consult Audiology Advisory Council) to provide guidance on industry trends and best practices. Getting involved on a higher level shows that your commitment to the field goes beyond selling hearing aids. 

2. Community

It’s important to create a brand that represents who you are and what you believe in. Does your practice’s presence in the community reflect your mission and values? Do you even really have a presence in your community? Whether in-person or virtual, community events such as health fairs, lunch and learns, and free hearing screening events should be part of your overall marketing strategy. Make sure your events are exciting to the target audience and that they end with a clear call to action! Finally, educate physicians and community groups (urgent care centers, walk-in clinics, senior living facilities, etc.) about the comorbidities associated with hearing loss and the importance of hearing on one’s overall wellness.

3. Team Culture

Foster a workplace culture that’s patient-centric and built on trust. Do you have the right people on your team? Do they work efficiently together as a team? Have you communicated your mission to them? Can they articulate that mission to patients? Champion open communication and welcome feedback and input from your staff. Regular staff meetings are crucial opportunities for team building, goal-setting, and instilling a growth mindset in your employees. Hold a daily “huddle” with your staff to set and maintain clear expectations each day. Also, be sure to provide professional growth opportunities with ongoing job description and performance reviews.

4. Patients

Put yourself in your patients’ shoes and trace the steps of their typical journey. Be aware of your digital presence and look at your website from a visitor’s perspective. Is it easy for them to find your contact information or to book an appointment? Does it include positive patient reviews and testimonials that convey your passion and expertise? Stay top of mind with patients by engaging with them on social media and sending regular communications such as birthday messages, newsletters, and appointment reminders. Consider utilizing innovative tools to stay in touch with patients like Consult’s exclusive new video marketing platform. Hosting educational seminars about common challenges like hearing aid Bluetooth connectivity is another great way to empower your patients and improve hearing aid outcomes. Patients want to be informed and to feel like their healthcare providers genuinely care about them!

5. In-Office

Try walking into your office as if you’ve never been there before. Examine the layout of your reception and waiting area as well as your exam room(s). What message does each space send to visitors? Are they all clean and without clutter? Is the physical space built in a way that allows room for growth? Don’t forget that your front office person is often a patient’s first impression of the practice. Does he/she positively represent your brand and support your mission? Examine the flow from arrival to the appointment to check out as well. Consider displaying assistive technology such as captioned telephones or playing educational waiting room videos that show statistics about hearing loss and/or share a patient’s journey.

6. In Appointments

You should also try walking through the flow of each appointment type, considering every element of the process. Do patients know what the expectations are in advance? Are your providers educating patients and giving their professional recommendations efficiently and concisely without pre-judgment? Engage in dialogue with your providers and hold them accountable for consistency in this process. Discuss outcome notes and work as a team to include new or different measures or specialized testing if appropriate. And continue to re-visit this process for ongoing practice growth. The goal here is to continue to improve how you deliver diagnosis and treatment messages to establish greater trust with patients so that more of them accept your help.

7. Follow-up Care

Follow-up and follow-through can be challenging in any field, but there are simple ways to add this to your processes to present yourself as an industry leader. Do you have a hearing loss prevention program or a referral plan? Do you have walk-in hours so that patients have the convenience of returning whenever they’re having a problem? Set up your email automation software to distribute patient satisfaction surveys following appointments. Send patients home with educational brochures that will help foster an ongoing relationship. Take time to make follow-up phone calls, regardless of whether the patient was ready to move forward and purchase hearing aids or not. All patients, even those who do not have an aidable hearing loss, should receive ongoing education and communication from your practice. This upholds your commitment to providing quality hearing healthcare and helping as many people as possible. Establishing realistic expectations regarding follow-up is also key. Let patients know that the average person upgrades their hearing aids every 3.7 years and that they should expect to return at the three-year mark for you to re-evaluate their hearing loss and ensure their devices are still functioning properly.

These areas are a great place to start thinking about how you can differentiate your practice. Don’t try to revamp your processes all at once. Instead, tackle a few of the above suggestions at a time. And remember that our Account Managers can help—this is exactly what we do every day for practices all across the country.

Reach out today to get started!

About the Author

Dr. Heather Carter, AuD., FAAA, is an Account Manager for the Northeast Region and brings a unique perspective to Consult YHN as a clinical audiologist with over 20 years of experience. She received both her master’s and doctoral degrees in Audiology from Gallaudet University, the only liberal arts college for the Deaf in the U.S. Through her graduate studies and clinical work, Dr. Carter has gained the expertise to help patients with all levels of hearing loss improve their communication skills. By providing practice development support and bridging the clinical aspects of hearing healthcare with the necessary business skills as a Consult YHN Account Manager, she helps her clients remain viable and relevant. Dr. Carter has two CODA children who are fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) and recently enjoyed a trip to her alma mater where they all were able to use their fluency in ASL to communicate on campus!

About the Author

Dr. Hannah Millstine joined Consult YHN in 2021 and is an Account Manager serving the East region. She received her doctoral degree in Audiology from Northeastern University and spent two years working as a clinical audiologist prior to joining Consult. Hannah resides in Maine and enjoys hiking and exploring New England in her free time.

Patient Trust: Why It’s Important and Five Ways to Build It

According to the FBI, millions of elderly Americans fall victim to some type of financial scam or confidence scheme every year. If that’s not enough cause for concern, they’re being inundated by industry disrupters—managed care, discount plans, big boxes, and OTC (Bose and Apple)—after spending more than a year in isolation, fearing for their health as a result of the pandemic.

That’s why it’s never been more important for practices to establish credibility and build trust with patients.

Without the reputation, name recognition, and marketing budget of a major tech company like Bose or Apple, this is a practice’s best defense against growing competition, patient skepticism, and the lingering stigma against hearing aids. Because while we all know how incredible today’s hearing aids are and the profound difference they can make in the lives of those who need them, convincing patients of this is perhaps your greatest challenge.

So, what can you do to cut through all the noise and earn your patients’ confidence and effectively deliver life-changing hearing healthcare?

#1. Make a good first impression.

Because most patients are finding your practice online, that’s where you really need to shine. To establish yourself as the local hearing health expert, engage existing patients, and entice prospects, it’s vital that you have…

A) A well-designed, user-friendly website that not only highlights your expertise and credentials but also serves as a resource for people seeking hearing health information. Not sure if your site is up to par? Let our in-house marketing experts conduct a website assessment!

B) An excellent online reputation. Add Vidscrips and video testimonials to your website and Healthy Hearing Premier Profile flex space and make sure you have plenty of positive reviews on Google and Facebook.

#2. Be consistent.

Your brand image and messaging need to be consistent from your website to your doorstep, and with every interaction a patient has with one of your staff members. If you have multiple locations, each office should follow the same scripting and best practices in addition to providing the same quality of care. The only way to achieve this kind of uniformity is through regular, ongoing staff meetings and professional development. The Consult Development Programs are designed to ensure everyone in the practice is working together as a team to maintain a positive brand image, provide superior customer service, and support practice growth. Also, make sure that your hours, services, and other practice information is consistent across all of your marketing assets and channels. Even a seemingly minor inconsistency can make a potential patient think twice about choosing your practice.

#3. Be transparent.

Ideally, patients should already know who you are and what to expect before they ever step foot in your office. Does your Front Office Professional know how to handle price shoppers and address questions about OTC hearing aids? Do your providers know how to prevent and overcome common objections? Again, this is where regular staff training and meetings can have a major impact. With the right scripting and the right mindset, even the most skeptical customers can become satisfied patients. If you don’t already have a value statement, I encourage you to develop one and share it with your employees along with your business goals. Every member of the practice should be able to articulate why you and why your practice.

#4. Make strong clinical recommendations.

When making the recommendation for hearing devices, do you resort to showing patients the full smorgasbord of hearing aids you offer, or do you lead the conversation to a strong clinical recommendation? Patients are coming to you because you are the expert. So, make a clear recommendation and tie it back to their hearing test as well as what you’ve learned during the appointment about their lifestyle, hobbies, career, and budget. That way, patients know you’re not just trying to sell them the premium product but rather there’s a legitimate clinical reason behind your recommendation. It also shows you’ve been listening to them and are committed to finding a solution that meets their individual needs.

#5. Educate patients.

Education and exceptional patient care go hand-in-hand. Both inside and outside the practice, you should seize every opportunity to educate patients about the importance of good hearing health. In addition to attending/hosting community health events and creating educational content (blogs, articles, and videos) to promote across your digital channels, you should always have a collection of up-to-date educational materials in your office. You never know—sending a reluctant patient home with a brochure to review with their loved ones could just provide the push they need to move forward in their hearing journey. It’s also important for providers to explain the blank audiogram before putting patients in the booth. This helps patients and their companions understand what to look for, thus creating greater transparency throughout the testing process.

Industry disruptors and COVID-19 aren’t going away any time soon. But if you and your entire team can openly, honestly, and effectively communicate with patients, then you will lessen their skepticism and increase their trust, leading to greater satisfaction and retention.

Consult can help.
Learn more about our Development Programs!

About the Author

Leah Breuers is the Director of Vendor Relations and Key Account Manager. She has extensive experience in the medical field selling and managing multi-million dollar businesses with a strong focus on customer service, training, increasing profitability. Before joining Consult in 2009, Leah worked both inside and outside the medical industry for emerging and Fortune 500 companies. In her time with the organization, Leah has worked with some of the largest, most engaged accounts and has routinely grown her portfolio by double digits year over year.

10 Questions to Ask Your Website Provider

Your website is your virtual practice and, today, most often your patients’ first impression of your brand and practice. Nearly 90 percent of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase, which includes visiting a business’s website.*

That’s why choosing the right digital partner is vital to your practice’s overall success. It’s important that you choose a reliable, competent, and highly skilled digital partner that you can trust to manage your online marketing needs, including your website. Choosing the right partner could increase visitors to your website and in turn, drive more new patients through your front door.

Over the last few years, the number of digital agencies has skyrocketed, making it difficult for business owners to vet and choose the right one.

So, how do you know if you have the right partner? The below questions are a great place to start:

1. Do I own my website?

2. Is my website a custom design?

3. Is my website a responsive design (mobile/tablet friendly)?

4. Are the phone numbers on my website click-to-call?

5. Does my website support online scheduling?

6. Is my website updated with new product launches and content from my manufacturers?

7. How often is my website content being updated?

8. Do you provide additional digital marketing services?

9. How are you measuring results?

10. What is your digital return on investment?

Still not sure if your current website provider is the best fit for your business? Consult YHN Marketing will conduct a personalized website and digital marketing assessment, including a geographic and competitive analysis. Contact your Account Manager to learn more about our comprehensive marketing services, including the Consult Digital Program. Or, contact our in-house team today at marketing@consultyhn.com.

*United States Ecommerce Country Report, 2017

About the Author

Nicole Finkbiner joined Consult YHN as the Marketing Communications Specialist in 2018 with nearly a decade of communications experience. Over the course of her career, Nicole has created a wide array of different content for various mediums and outlets—news articles, press releases, arts features, product descriptions, small business websites, e-blasts, social media posts, promotional materials, and more. In her free time, the Philadelphia native enjoys soaking up the city’s culture and binge-watching TV shows.

Facebook 101: Navigating Posts, Boosted Posts, and Facebook Ads

As Facebook has grown over the years into a rich platform for marketers and clinics to advertise and promote their services, it has segmented into three separate pathways for promotion.

So what’s the difference between the three pathways: regular posts, boosted posts, and Facebook ads?

Facebook Feed Posts

Regular Facebook Feed posts consist of updates and posts made on your clinic’s “timeline;” one that shows on the front of your business page in chronological order. This acts as a bulletin board for any potential client or former client to learn about your practice and peruse through any updates or information you have recently posted. These posts made on your page will be shown to approximately 1-2% of your fan base on average, as organic reach has steadily decreased over the past few years due to an over-supply of content on the platform.

As your page receives higher engagement and your posts are deemed more relevant to your audience, Facebook will show your posts to more users organically in their news feed. It is essential for all clinics and small businesses to have an active social media presence, as it has become a core search component when potential patients are researching about a product or service. The more updated and relevant content that a clinic has on their Facebook page, the more likely a patient will be interested in using them as a provider.

Boosted Posts

Boosted posts provide clinics or marketers the ability to amplify their regular page posts to a larger audience than Facebook would show it to organically. You are provided with a simplified set of targeting options, including age demographic and geographic location, and you are able to optimize your boosted post to receive more engagement or reach the maximum amount of people for your budget. You are limited with this promotion to strictly boost your post on the Facebook or Instagram News Feeds.

On the user-end, they will see “Sponsored” in the corner of the post on their news feed, just as it would had it been run through the Ads Manager. This simplifies the ad-building process into under a minute and makes it easy for clinics to add additional exposure to their page posts/updates. However, it does not provide you with complex options to fully target your audience, build campaigns, implement eye-catching ad styles, and the ability to optimize efficiently to deliver the best results like Facebook Ads does. This can be a considered a shortcut to give your posts a small but necessary “boost” of exposure.

Facebook Advertising

Facebook Ads give you the ability to fully maximize the platform and deliver the best results for your campaigns. You are provided with a rich set of controls and campaign objectives, with the ability to optimize based on your goals of generating traffic, generating leads, sign-ups, or simply building brand awareness. Utilizing the Facebook Ads Manager enables you to utilize the varying ad styles most useful for clinics such as “Lead-Generation” ads or “Conversion,” giving you the flexibility to track the patient journey from seeing the ad to filling out a form. It also provides you with the tools to select the individual platforms your campaign should run on, whether it be on any of the varying ad spaces that Facebook, Instagram, Audience Network, and Messenger provides.

A/B testing is also provided so that you can truly test what ads work, and what ads are not resonating with your audience. Lastly, you will find better results in total reach, cost per impressions, total leads, and other key performance metrics by running Facebook Ads over simply boosting posts, as best practices follow building all ads through their back-end system.

Interested in learning more about how you can best utilize Facebook to grow patient leads?

 

Contact us here or give us a call at 866-950-3571 to get started!

About the Author

Ethan Bruno is the Search Marketing Manager at AudiologyDesign. He has an extensive background in digital advertising and brand development, working in a diverse set of verticals for small businesses, including healthcare, automotive, retail, non-profits, and e-commerce consumer products. Ethan is a Certified Facebook Blueprint Buying Professional and holds additional certifications in Google Analytics and Google Adwords. In his current role, Ethan plans, strategizes, and builds PPC and social advertising campaigns for hearing care practices throughout the US and Canada. He obtained his degree in Communications from Syracuse University and currently resides in New Jersey. In his free time, you can catch him sitting on a blanket at music festivals all over the globe.