Seven Reasons to Call Your Patients

Telemarketing can be an unsettling word for some. It evokes the days of yesteryear when family dinners were interrupted by phone calls and last names were mispronounced beyond recognition.

Forget what you thought you knew about telemarketing. In fact, forget the word ‘telemarketing’ entirely. At Consult YHN, we’ve turned outbound dialing into a service essential to the success of your hearing healthcare practice – Your Patient Contact Center (YPCC).

Through YPCC, our Associates have access to a highly-trained, professionally-managed workforce committed to patient communications and the success of the practice. YPCC’s patient contact specialists act as an extension of your practice, devoted to expanding your reach, securing appointments, and driving new and existing patients through your door.

Retaining current patients while effectively acquiring new ones should be an ongoing priority for every practice. Considering that 45 percent of patients will purchase their next set of hearing aids from a different practice – reinforces the importance of consistent patient outreach and follow-up.

Calling patients, whether it’s your staff or through our YPCC call center, is a beneficial process to implement in your practice for the following reasons:

1. Revenue-driving activity

On average, YPCC books 0.5 appointments per hour, and practices that use their service realize a net gain of 8-10 units per 40 hours of calling. At their competitive rates, your practice could pay less than $100 to book a qualified patient on your schedule. Through our Consult Database Program, 75% of appointments booked are through the YPCC efforts – with the average program yielding $11,400 in total revenue.

2. Keep consistent touchpoints with your patients

YPCC has developed carefully crafted scripts for each segment of your database. This ensures that the patient contact specialists are speaking directly to each patients’ individual hearing health journey.

3. Alignment with marketing activities

Sending just a letter or postcard to your database doesn’t cut it anymore. Making phone calls behind each of your marketing activities – and with consistent messaging – will better convert your warm leads into appointments. Multiple touchpoints help keep your brand top of mind or maintain “stickiness” in the minds of your patients. Additionally, a follow-up call behind a database mailer removes the work by the patient to act on a marketing call-to-action.

4. Outbound and inbound options

In addition to making outbound dials, YPCC also offers inbound options to help with call overflow or after-hours and weekend calls. This ensures your practice makes the most of every call and reinforces your commitment to excellent customer service.

5. Database cleanup

The health of your database will have a significant impact on patient retention. If you haven’t recently scrubbed your database for patients who have moved or passed away, then any other outreach to those patients is precious marketing dollars wasted.

6. Seamless patient experience

With full access to your practice management software, YPCC’s patient contact specialists schedule appointments on the spot.

7. Time-saving

Employing someone else to call patients on behalf of your practice puts more time back on your schedule so that you can focus on what you do best: helping more people hear well again!

The truth is patient contact centers have become a staple in the healthcare industry. Whether you are a small private practice or part of a hospital network, utilizing a contact center is a cost-effective way to retain patients and fill your schedule with appointments.

Click here to learn more about Your Patient Contact Center or talk to your Account Manager today to get started!

About the Author

Julia Shreckengast joined Consult YHN in 2015 and serves as Marketing Account Executive, providing support to Associates by managing creative projects and developing/executing marketing plans. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she helped promote the city of New Orleans as a member of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. Julia graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Tulane University.

Are You Empowering Your Front Office to Drive Revenue? Three Questions to Ask Yourself!

The Front Office Professional (FOP) is essential to an effective and efficient hearing healthcare office. Both in-person and over the phone, FOPs are key in establishing rapport with patients, creating a positive first impression, and helping to drive opportunities.
 
Many practice owners overlook that their front office staff can and should do more than answer phones and schedule appointments—they should help drive revenue every day.

Below are three questions to determine if you’re empowering your Front Office Professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to be a major player in the success of your business:

QUESTION #1: Does your FOP believe in the power of the Third Party and is she/he strongly encouraging patients to bring a loved one to appointments?

You’re most likely aware of the benefits connected to having a trusted family member or friend accompany patients to their appointments, including having a familiar voice during their evaluation and the added case history acquired.

As a Consult YHN member, you also know that increasing your practice’s Third Party rate results in greater patient satisfaction, a reduction in Tested Not Sold patients, and lower return rates. In some practices, it may also increase the closure rate by as much as 10-20 percent.

But is your FOP aware of these benefits? Can your FOP confidently convey to patients the value of having a significant other present for evaluations? To make this point more relatable, ask your FOP how long he/she spent with the doctor the last time he/she was sick? No one has ever answered an hour or more (the typical length of a hearing aid evaluation appointment)!

Source: The Hearing Review

It’s important to demonstrate that the companion is there for support and not because the patient can’t make their own decision. Studies show that 40-80 percent of what patients hear in a doctor’s office is forgotten, regardless of age. So, having two sets of ears is better than one, especially since one of those sets may be struggling to hear.

Lastly, let’s not overlook the potential referral opportunities: many active couples have combined friends and their own individual social networks. Your practice can potentially test the Third Party, or even seek recommendations from both parties, and grow your database – but only if your FOP is consistently emphasizing the need for a companion!

QUESTION #2: Does your Front Office believe that Calling is Caring?

What separates your practice from the competition is the world-class service you provide. The businesses that are most successful in retaining current patients and attracting new ones use a staff member (Patient Communication Specialist) or a service (Your Patient Contact Center) dedicated to making outbound calls to current patients and prospects. This function protects the practice’s most valuable patient resource—its database—and helps fill the schedule with opportunities. We know that 43 percent of patients buy their next set of aids from someone else. That’s why consistently contacting existing patients is vital to keeping your relationships warm and your practice top-of-mind.

However, this is the aspect of the job that more traditional front office employees (receptionists, schedulers) are not prepared for when they enter the hearing healthcare industry. Not only do a successful FOPs need to have computer, filing, customer service, and organization skills, but they also need to own the schedule, manage the provider’s time proactively, and take responsibility to create and enhance the patient experience. We advise FOPs to develop relationships with callers before they come to the office and continue to foster that connection once they become a patient. This way, a call from your practice isn’t an intrusion, but rather a chance to ensure continued patient satisfaction.

Source: Audiology Online

The recommended schedule and mix of patient contact methods may push some FOPs outside their comfort zone. To help reduce anxieties and increase skills and efficiencies, Consult conducts weekly tele-trainings with FOPs from practices across the country. During these trainings participants will learn about why these calls are so important and best practices for scripting to get the greatest results. They will also be encouraged to share their challenges and success stories, allowing them to reap the rewards of being part of a network of likeminded businesses.

QUESTION #3: Does your FOP know the value of each call generated by your marketing initiatives?

Based on the data that we have collected from our Associates, on average, each scheduled opportunity appointment is worth approximately $1,200 in profit for your practice. But how can FOPs understand the significance of each incoming phone call if practice owners don’t share this kind of information with them? Once they understand the value of each incoming call, they should be more motivated to improve their call conversion ratio. A great way to do so is to have them listen to recordings of how they have handled incoming calls. No one enjoys the sound of their own voice, but recording and replaying phone calls are one the best ways to improve the caller experience. A trained ear can easily identify if an FOP is unclear about information or unable to answer the caller’s questions. If you don’t have call tracking/recording in place, Consult’s training team will perform secret shopper calls. We can determine what training and guidance is needed, for example, properly scheduling appointment types, discussing the importance of the Third Party, or overusing technical terms and abbreviations (jargon) that the patient doesn’t understand.

Source: Harvard Business Review

Consult’s virtual Employee Development Program (EDP) workshops should be an essential component in your staff’s development plan. These online training events focus on building and developing your team’s skillset so they can actively contribute to driving opportunities and enhancing the patient experience.

Start empowering your front office staff today! Talk to your Account Manager to learn more about our EDP workshops and weekly tele-trainings!

About the Author

Miki Follin has been an Assistant Account Manager with the West Team at Consult YHN since October 2016. Miki brings retail store management, training, and customer service experience from her years with CVS/Pharmacy and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. When not helping Front Office staff learn and develop, you can find her cheering on Arizona’s sports teams, enjoying the sunshine!

2019 Year-in-Review

As we embark on a new decade, we took a moment to appreciate the past year. Together, we accomplished a lot. Join us in celebrating some of our best moments.
Thank you for your continued partnership. We look forward to an even more productive and prosperous 2020!

About the Author

Julia Shreckengast joined Consult YHN in 2015 and serves as Marketing Account Executive, providing support to Associates by managing creative projects and developing/executing marketing plans. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she helped promote the city of New Orleans as a member of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. Julia graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Tulane University.

Rethinking Business Done Well

I recently sat down over a two-day period with the Owners and Directors of Operations of 15 large hearing care practices. This group collectively represents some of the more efficient organizations in our industry, each one easily within the top five percent in terms of direct impact delivered and overall revenue.

Over the course of the meetings, we discussed industry dynamics, marketing tactics, and P&L (Profit & Lost) performance: all subjects that influence almost every business in our profession, big and small.

However, none of the above topics drove the most curiosity and ire from these highly proficient business leaders or was the topic we spent the most time discussing.

leadership-narrowDo you want to know what topic we discussed the most?

Answer: team development and recruiting!

Even with all the success these business leaders have had, they still struggle to earn buy-in from their teams in order to drive performance and cement a commitment to excellence. And, like so many other employers, they also still struggle to find and retain the most skilled individuals to help service their patients.

Some were caught in a constant state of hiring, training, and replacing team members so frequently that in one case, sadly, they admitted not knowing the full name of every employee on their payroll.

“We’ve seen the enemy,” one owner said. “And it’s us.”

Overstated perhaps, but even those most confident in their circumstances admitted a desire to see greater drive in their employees and greater results from their teams.

The truth is, the single greatest strength for a company is its people and the single most volatile variable for business success is leadership. In fact, unless you’re a true one-person practice, your best hope for growth and sustainability is to scale your expertise and patient focus beyond your direct influence through your staff.

Even the highest performing practices are beginning to rethink the way that they do business in order to drive real results.

Maybe you should, too.

The best advice we can offer is to…

  1. Fall in love with your patients again—not your products and services—and teach your team to do the same.
  2. Thread your WHY through every narrative, from marketing to attracting, hiring, and developing your dream team.
  3. Understand that it’s a buyers’ market for employees and take the time to understand what motivates each (current or prospective) team member then learn how to tie it to performance.
  4. Let Consult YHN help you find experienced candidates who will positively influence and integrate into your practice then continuously develop their skills.

In other words, take advantage of the national, industry-leading support system that Consult YHN provides. This includes our full lifecycle Recruiting Services and the Consult Employee Development Program (EDP) which offers regional classes throughout the year for every member of your staff to ensure they’re working together harmoniously, efficiently, and with an “opportunity mindset.”

About the Author

Cliff Carey is an Account Manager in our East Region. With nearly 20 years of business and management experience, Cliff joined Consult YHN in early 2019 to lead our associates in New York and northern New Jersey. Cliff’s diverse background in business strategy, systems analysis, human resource and team development, and marketing and consumer engagement have helped him to drive for operational success and revenue growth both in and outside of hearing healthcare.

Your Biggest Health Fair Questions Answered

Here I am at a senior health fair a few years ago as my amazing coworkers talk to potential patients and perform otoscopy. See, I’m smiling—nothing to be scared of!

Health fairs are an excellent opportunity to connect with your community, educate consumers about hearing loss and hearing aids, promote your business, and drive new patients in the door.

However, understandably, many practice owners and providers find the idea of standing in a crowded room, starting conversations with strangers, and asking for their business to be intimidating – some might even say terrifying.

But, fear not—I’m here to help make your next health fair or community outreach event a little more fun and a lot more successful.

Here are answers to several of your most plaguing health fair-related questions as well as some helpful tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years.

Q: How do I find out about health fairs and other senior events in my area?

A: There are plenty of ways to do this, but here are three that I’ve had the most luck with:

1. Google “senior health fairs near me.” This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised just how many events there are going on around you all the time. You may also be surprised to learn how many senior organizations there are in your area—home healthcare companies, community centers, services for the aging, etc.

2. Check your local newspaper and its website – Organizations that host seniors events know that many Baby Boomers still read the newspaper and therefore, advertise in the events section. Most newspapers also allow people to post events online for free.

3. Check your local hospitals – If they don’t have an Audiology or Speech Therapy Department, that could be your in. Hospitals have open houses and other events and if they need a hearing provider, you could make a great connection.

 

INSIDER TIP: Don’t ignore events that have passed—they can be a goldmine. If you come across an event from the previous year, reach out to the coordinators. Sometimes they already know when and where this year’s event will be held and can add you to their contact list so that you know when the event opens for vendors.
Q: Should I do video otoscopy?
A: If you can, go for it! Explain to the patient that this is the first step of the hearing exam and invite him/her to your office for the other two steps. Have a printed copy of your schedule so that you can see what dates and times you have available for appointments and book them on the spot. Don’t take an iPad or laptop—you only have a short window of time with each person and you don’t want to waste it inputting his/her information. Also, you don’t want to rely on the venue’s Wi-Fi.
Q: Should I offer free hearing screenings on site?

A: Absolutely not. This is a big no-no for many reasons, starting with the fact that there usually isn’t a space that’s quiet enough to conduct hearing screenings at a health fair. More importantly, it defeats the purpose of attending these types of events which is to grow your database, establish relationships with members of your community, and attract new patients. Why give the milk away for free?


INSIDER TIP: Even if you can’t attend a health fair as a vendor, check it out anyway and bring a stack of business cards with you. Talk to the vendors that are at the event. Network. Mingle. Have fun. Find out what events they’re going to next. Perhaps one is worth keeping on your radar.
Q: What should I bring?

A: Here are five absolute essentials:

1. Information about your practice – business cards, brochures, etc. .

2. Educational materials – picture of an ear, hearing health articles, handouts they can take home, etc. Consult’s MarketSource has a large selection of collateral to choose from.

3. Directions to your office – seniors who have hearing loss usually also have poor vision. So, make sure your message is clear and the font is BIG. And don’t get them lost!

4. Appointment sheets for the next 2 weeks – I can’t stress this enough. Paper is your friend.

5. Giveaways – such as pens and notepads with your logo and practice information.

Q: How do I stand out from all the other vendors?

A: This is one of the most important questions you should ask yourself. And one of the best things you can do is to engage everyone who walks by your table—don’t just sit there and wait for them to stop and show interest. Make your table pop with a colorful tablecloth, preferably one with your practice name/logo on it. And lastly, a little bribery can go a long way—as in free candy, water, or snacks.


INSIDER TIP: When talking with individuals who were in the military, thank them for their service, ask when they were discharged, then respond, “I’m guessing that’s the last time you had your hearing checked.” Anyone who is discharged from the military must have a hearing test and for most, it’s the last one they’ve had.
Q: What should I say to people when they’re at my table?
A: Start by asking when they last had their hearing checked or if they have their hearing tested every year. Once you get people talking, see if they have a history of hearing loss or have ever worn hearing aids. Educate them on the importance of having an annual hearing evaluation. Deliver your “why.” Talk to them about your practice and why they should choose you over another provider. Remember: you have less than five minutes to leave a lasting impression on that person before he/she moves onto the next table.
Q: What’s the best way to handle any appointments that I book during the event?

A: Track your results. Create a spreadsheet listing all the pertinent patient information, including each person’s appointment date and time. Update the spreadsheet every morning for each patient:

  • Did the patient get tested?
  • Did the patient have a hearing loss?
  • Was amplification purchased? If so, what type of hearing aid and how much?
  • Was it a no-call, no-show? Pick up the phone and call the patient to reschedule—don’t wait for him/her to reach out.

 

INSIDER TIP: Since you’ve already established a relationship with these patients, call to confirm their appointments the day before to ensure they feel comfortable and know where your office is located. Additionally, confirm they are bringing a Third Party to the appointment. If a patient’s appointment is four or more days out, send him/her a reminder postcard with a handwritten note: “Nice to meet you at the health fair – see you Tuesday!”

Hopefully, I answered all your questions. If you have any others, don’t hesitate to ask your Account Manager or shoot me an email: JGesuale@ConsultYHN.com.

About the Author

Julie Gesuale joined Consult YHN in 2010 and currently serves as an Assistant Account Manager in the company’s Hospital and University Division. Her diverse professional background includes customer service, marketing, and project management. When not working, Julie enjoys spending time with her wife of 15 years and her two rescue dogs, Sheldon and Leonard. She’s also been singing in church and community choirs for over 25 years.