One of the biggest things that we have recognized within the medical industry is the way that technology has changed how we market and communicate with patients. One thing that has become clear is that everyone has a partner. Everyone has someone they recommend. Everyone has a software solution or a new system that’s going to provide efficiency to your practice and the ability to generate more revenue. Whether that be through new and existing patients or through providing time back to the individuals that work in your practice and help run the business. Let’s take a look at how we market and communicate with patients and understand how to pick the right partner for your business.
What we want to understand are the six steps to not only choose the right practice software but how to integrate it into your practice, communicate it to your employees, and make sure that everyone is on board.
1. Analyze the needs of your practice
When we talk about analyzing the needs of the practice we are talking about doing it through the lenses of the three primary categories of people within your practice. First, You have your employees. These are the people you rely on to run your practice as effectively as possible. Ultimately, everything that they do needs to be for the greater good of the practice. This means that the employees are satisfied and meeting the needs of the employer, which in turn makes the business owner satisfied and increasing revenue generation. In order to support the efforts of your employees, you need to be evaluating how you can help them get more time, reduce their workload, and centralize and unify the communication within the practice.
Second, we look at the patients. These are the individuals that interact with your business for patient care. These are the people that are driving revenue for your practice so ultimately we are looking at patient care in this scenario. How do we provide the best patient care? How do we improve the customer experience? Not only with their medical provider, but with their entire interaction with the office. And how do we provide ease of access to the practice? As more practices evolve into a more modern approach, ease of access becomes important from a competitive standpoint and for meeting the needs of the patient where they expect to be met.
Lastly, we look at the leadership team within the practice. Understanding key performance indicator (KPI) transparency and how to minimize opportunity cost. Understanding what these are and how well your practice is meeting them helps the business owners and providers understand how well software partners reduce their financial footprint over time as they integrate and continue to add on top of each other over time.
2. Prioritize your needs
Once you understand what your needs are, you want to prioritize them into three different buckets. First, we have the essential bucket. These needs are critical to the long-term growth of your practice. They are set for the employees, the patients, and the leadership team. Second, you have your conditional needs, which are generally based on the essential needs. For example, if reducing time spent on the phone is an essential need for your employees, then the conditional need becomes digital scheduling. If leadership’s essential need is more transparency into the practice KPIs in terms of leads and conversion metrics, then the conditional need becomes CRM technology and more advanced tracking through marketing partners. Last we have the “nice-to-haves” bucket. These are what give you competitive advantages, what you provide and have available for new employees, and, in some cases, things that are nice to have for the patient. A nice to have for a patient might be that they really want to just text you, but that might not really work in your current workflow base on how your practice is set up. So you can categorize and prioritize these needs so that you can work towards obtaining them efficiently and realistically.
3. Do your research
You want to understand what your options are. There is no shortage of finding out your options if you talk to your marketing agency, your practice management systems, your consultants, or your medical devices reps. All of these groups would have valuable input into where to look and can provide recommendations based on what they’ve seen other practices use or even recommend companies based on who their systems can integrate with best. Once you have a list of options you want to understand the price versus the value it brings to the practice. There are systems that are expensive and things that you might think are cheap, but ultimately you want to take that price and layer it across value because at the end of the day the cost doesn’t matter. These systems are generally revenue generators for the business in the fact that they are either going to increase the actual dollars coming into the business or they are going to reduce the workload on a team member so you really want to focus on the value that these systems are going to bring. Not just the expense on a monthly basis.
Once you have gotten all your options and values, it’s time to create a vendor shortlist. There is likely going to be more than one vendor that can fit your needs and those vendors may have other solutions within their bucket that make sense for your practice. So, you need to understand the similarities between the software systems and the differences and then evaluate that shortlist to make the right choice.
4. Validate your shortlist
If you don’t have a shortlist and you are not comparing multiple software systems, then you are not doing your job as a business owner when it comes to selecting the appropriate solution. Below are a couple of key points that you want to look at while validating.
- What kind of support does the vendor provide? Are there built-in help systems, movies, or documentation readily available? If you’re going through a demonstration, ask exactly where these are while you’re going through the system. It will show you how easy it is to find this information so you know exactly how easy it will be when your team has questions.
- What options are available for training? Everyone learns differently. To start you want to make sure you have in-person training for certain people whereas others might just learn by video tutorials. After the initial training, some people want refreshers via webinars on a weekly basis, while others may just need quick access to help text and videos within the system. So, you want to make sure that the type of training that the system provides, supports the different ways that your team learns the best.
- How does the vendor handle software updates? What is the typical frequency and cost? Make sure you understand the product road map. One of the most critical things you want to consider is, not what the software can do for you today, but what it will do for you tomorrow. If you are not aligning yourself with a business that is poised for growth and continuing to invent on the behalf of your practice, then you are likely choosing the wrong partner.
- How is the software licensed? Understand the structure of the licenses. Who can get into it and who can support you with it.
- Does the software solution meet your budget requirements? Again, it’s important to look at price vs value in this scenario.
- Conduct a full evaluation of the product in your own company and environment. Is it easy to use? Will it meet both current and future needs? Make sure every stakeholder that’s going to have interaction with this product gets the opportunity to look at it and provide feedback.
5. Integrate everything
You want to make sure everything integrates together. At this point in technology for medical practices, we are in the early innings. New technology is rolling out almost weekly it seems with new services, new enhancements, new partners, and new products in the space. You want to pick a system that can connect to all of the relevant components that run your practice. This starts with your practice management system. It should connect to your financial systems. You want to make sure your marketing initiatives tie into it very easily and simply. In many cases, you want to make sure your marketing agencies are comfortable with third-party software because you want to be able to rely on them to understand the data you are getting from the system. They will be able to use it to make adjustments quickly on your behalf. Finally, your phone systems/Voice over IP systems and your SMS software should be able to integrate.
You want all of these systems to connect. Otherwise, you’re purchasing software in a silo and that’s going to be a disadvantage for you down the road.
6. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
As you move through this process, it is critical to communicate with everyone. Not only do you want to communicate to your team about what software you are purchasing, but before you even make a decision, they should know because they should be involved in the entire vetting process. You want to have whole-office buy-in when it comes to purchasing software or business management tools. It doesn’t mean they are making every decision for you, but you have to get the individuals that will be using the system to understand the pockets of value that exist for them. Once you do that, you want to go through a four-question category with them to make sure they understand the purpose of this decision.
- Why did you choose this company?
- What problems does it solve?
- What are the overall goals the practice should achieve with access to this new software?
- How to use it effectively.
If you do these six steps well, you will have whole office buy-in and you will maximize the potential that the product you chose will be a success for your practice.