Less than 10 years ago few GP practices would have asked this question as there were patients aplenty. Now, with list purging and increased competition, the environment looks quite different. Many practices will, over the next few years, struggle for resources and ultimately struggle to survive in their current form. All practices will be looking for greater economies of scale and will need to be smart to meet the challenges ahead. Practices will need to attract new patients as well as hold onto their existing patients.
These are my generic five top tips for attracting new patients. There are countless other ways to attract patients, but each surgery’s needs are different.
Ensure that the practice has a good patient feedback system
If you don’t know what your patients like or don’t like then you will have a problem keeping your patients let alone attracting new patients. Hearing what your patients say at the reception or in a consultation is not the same as having dedicated systems to capture what people really think. Ideally, having someone independent of the practice to find this out is even more useful; then you hear it how it really is.
Make changes from the feedback you receive
So you have good feedback processes so now you need to act on the feedback. If 50 people have said they do not like your appointment system then you need to act on this. You may want to involve patients in any redesign but do not expect them to come up with the solutions. You need to find these out yourself, possibly using other experts.
Improve NHS Choices feedback
If you are recommended by only three out of ten patients, why would I as a prospective patient register with you? You need to improve your image and reputation. Firstly, you need to ensure that you provide suitable feedback to those ten people who have been kind enough to comment. Secondly, you need to look at what they have said and do something about it. Thirdly, you need to increase the positive feedback you are getting.
Improve the practice’s own website
If you have a practice website, it is important that you have this reviewed. Is it doing what it is meant to do? How easy is it to use? How easy is it to find? From a website review, changes can be made, most of which will not cost any extra but may make patients who use online services happier. If you don’t have a website, consider talking to a communications expert about how having one can help you communicate with your patients.
Ensure the practice has good signage
Often when people are new to an area they just pass by a practice and remember that they need to register with a GP. If your practice is the first practice they see you are more likely to become their practice. Just make sure the receptionist smiles when they meet the prospective new patient.
For advice on increasing patient numbers tailored to your practice, or, if you need support in making changes and increasing your practice’s population, please get in touch with me. The services I offer may cost less than you think, they will save you money, improve patient satisfaction, increase your patient numbers and your practice’s income.