The world of audiology has changed; and it’s never going back to the way it was. The COVID-19 pandemic has completely shifted how patients look for your services as well as how they engage with you. Add in health concerns, new technology, and unclear state laws, and there’s a lot of confusion on what the future of audiology looks like.
But you can look at the situation, put your tail between your legs and hope the world goes “back to normal,” or you can seize this opportunity to advance your business and bring hearing healthcare into the modern world.
Outdated technology and processes create challenges across an overburdened healthcare system. Practices can experience increased costs, alienated patients, and inferior outcomes across the healthcare system if updates are not made.
Virtual Services include:
Tele-Audiology is an opportunity to expand and grow your practice. Once you decide to offer tele-audiology, you may be wondering what the best way is to release this information to current and potential patients. Unless it is something the patient specifically needs, they often don’t know that their provider offers it within their services. If you don’t create and execute a formal announcement, you will miss a unique opportunity to bring in a lot more business.
This is where marketing and education is invaluable for providers.
E-Commerce delivers automatic revenue; it has grown 241% since 2019, illustrating a clear opportunity for audiology professionals to capitalize.
By allowing patients to purchase through your website, you reduce the number of “drop-ins” (and non-revenue-generating activities are more important than ever, especially with sanitation requirements), people can get their supplies from the comforts of their home and with OTC hearing aids on the horizon, it’s also a great opportunity for your business to expand its product line and profit from these new additions.
Plus, from a digital marketing perspective, e-commerce offers a ton of SEO benefits.
So, You Are A Virtual Powerhouse – How Do You Let Everyone Know?
Whether through signage and flyers, the practice’s website, referrals or online advertising, practices can reap the benefits of virtual services almost immediately. Promotion can attract new patients and generate additional revenue, provide convenience and more immediate attention to patients and furnish more affordable care options for patients.
You will want to let your current patients know that you are offering virtual services so they can take advantage of it. Their follow-up visits or check-ins can become much more streamlined. Prior to launch, you may want to collect emails or pull a list from your data base of current patients you will want to notify. If you don’t want to use email, you will probably want to consider mentioning this new service on your voicemail recording or by telling your staff to mention it every time they talk to a patient, especially if they are a regular patient who requires products to maintain their hearing health (they will probably be thrilled to learn they can buy all of their maintenance products from you!) You will also want to update your website. You can add a banner to the homepage or even add a whole new page entirely that details the new service.
When you want to get new patients’ attention, having virtual services can make or break their decision. It is very important to be accessible! Regardless of the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, you want your patients to feel like they can reach you. First, you will want to make sure you update your online listing with virtual service information so any new patients who are searching for information will see the virtual option quickly. You could also consider offering a “new patient deal” by allowing them to book a virtual consultation for free or a discounted rate; that way you can hear about their needs and determine the best course of action prior to an in-person appointment. Or you can offer a deal for first time customers who use your online store to buy their hearing-related products.
You will also want to announce your virtual services on your social media accounts. And be sure to use hashtags like “#telehealth or “#teleaudiology” to make sure you also trend in the right categories. Depending on your budget, you can also consider creating some online ads that can run on these channels to include information about your service, any deal you may want to offer and how they can best in get contact with you to take advantage of it. You may also want to consider some more traditional forms of local marketing and maybe get an ad done for your local paper.
Final Thoughts Of course, not all healthcare visits can be handled via video or phone. There are times when a provider needs to examine or treat a patient in person. But experienced telehealth providers say that’s the beauty of telehealth: They’re able to conserve time so that they have more time to spend with the patients who really need their attention in person. Don’t let the virtualization of your practice become intimidating. With the right platform and the right provider, you can easily incorporate virtual services into your everyday practice.
Renee Shumaker, MA-A