As a Doctor who accepts Workers' Compensation Cases, you already know about targeting niche patient demographics. After all, in 2016 only 2.9% of employees in the US were involved in a workers' compensation claim. This is a small - but not insignificant - number of patients. For practices which gain the trust of the work comp community, it can lead to a reliable stream of patients, which can be especially beneficial in the off season. Another niche patient demographic is private pay patients. They can be a lifeline to your practice (see below for reasons). This article will explain what your practice can do to attract more private pay patients.
Private Pay Patients can be a lifeline for your practice. They have 3 main advantages:
Any doctor who has ever looked closely at his/her billing department will know what a headache it can be. Even if your team manages to bill everything correctly, you are still at the mercy of the insurance company, who may not pay on time or may even deny the claim altogether. This slows your practice down and creates cashflow issues. Private pay patients, by contrast, pay upfront with cash or by check. This means you get guaranteed payment and without the billing headaches and legwork.
Practice's private pay fee schedule is typically higher than the fee schedule which insurance companies grind you down to. In other words, private pay patients often form a small percentage of your total patient volume, BUT a higher percentage of your total practice revenue.
Have you ever been frustrated when a patient needs a procedure, but the insurance company denies it? Working with private pay patients is much easier. It is the patient who will "authorize" their treatment, as they are the one who is paying. This makes it easier for you, as a doctor, because you can discuss the procedure directly with the patient and come to a mutual agreement about whether to proceed or not.
Private pay patients are different to insured patients. With insured patients, there is typically a Preferred Provider Organization (in short, a list of doctors which the insurance company has contracted with at discounted rates). However, private pay patients have total freedom with regards to which doctor they choose.
So, in the year of 2018, how do they go about making this decision? Put simply, they look online.
Imagine a private pay patient looking for your services. What would they Google? Usually it's this: "type of doctor I need + location". So, if they need an orthopedic surgeon in Miami, it would be "orthopedic surgeon Miami". Try doing this search (with your specialty and city) now. Plus - important - do a PRIVATE search (so that the browser does not remember your previous search history). Do you come top of Google? If you are not on the first page of results, then - let's be honest - patients are not going to find you.
There are 2 ways to get your website to rank higher on Google search results:
This is where you pay for your website to feature in the sponsored results. The advantage is that it can generate immediate results, plus can be restricted to your geographical area. The disadvantage is that you pay for every single click. Read more about Google Adwords.
This is where you position your site in the real search engine results. The advantage is that real search engine results receive more clicks than Google Ads, plus you do not have to pay per click. Read more about SEO for Doctors.
What is the point in being top of Google if it's a Google review showing you have a 1 star rating? Or being top of Google when your website looks like it was built in 1992? You need to make sure that patients like what they find. Your website - or online reviews - are often a patient's first impression of you. You need to make it a good one! Read about Medical Website Design or how to increase your number of 5 star reviews online.
I have long been a critic of social media in terms of the cost (of time) and the benefits. However, I believe it is a great medium through which to attract non-acute private pay patients. Here's why I think this: For acute injuries, do patients really turn to social media? Let's take an urgent care patient, for example. The patient has just been injured in a car accident - is their first response to immediately jump onto Facebook and scroll down their wall?! NO. They will go to Google and search for the nearest urgent care center. By contrast, let's take a non-acute injury - for example someone with a bad back which has been bothering them for years. This type of patient is much more likely to be scrolling down their Facebook wall and - if they see something relevant which can help them (e.g. some form of cure for back pain) - then they are more likely to click on it.
As a side note, we also recommend the use of Social Media, because it helps to improve the SEO campaign.
Red Castle Services is the owner of Workers-Compensation-Doctors.com. While Workers-Compensation-Doctors.com focus on being the best (and only!) national work comp directory devoted to work comp doctors, Red Castle Services - by contrast - provides a full service package of online marketing for doctors, not specific to work comp. Red Castle's services include:
NOTE: Our package's are priced as a modest monthly fee, so that practices stay with us in the longterm. The future trend is for everything to become online and we want to be the partner which supports physician practices along the way. All contracts are month-to-month and doctors can quit at any point with just 30 days' notice.