I work with doctors just like you who want to rapidly accelerate the growth of their private practices, whether they are newly – appointed Consultants, NHS Consultants or GP’s who have been working privately for several years, or seasoned campaigners who work purely in the private sector.
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Dev Lall FRCS (Gen Surg)
|How do I get more private patients?|
|This has got to be the most common question I get asked, but before we can even begin to answer it you’re going to have to answer a couple of questions:1. Do you want more income?
2. Do you want similar income but more free time?
3. Do you want more patients with a particular condition?Is it one or a combination of the above? After all, you might be quite happy on your private income if you could earn the same amount whilst having more free time and spend less time in your private practice.
For most consultants, the answer is that what they really want is an increase in practice income. It is important to be clear that this is NOT the same as increasing the number of patients that you see (although this usaually has the same effect). An obvious example of this is that if each patient on average provides you with £x income, then if you increase the income from each patient clearly your income will rise even if the numbers are static. Each speciality, from anaesthesia to gastroenterology will have patients on their books some of which pay more e.g complex cases vs simple cases.
So how to get more patients?
1. Increase patient numbers from current referral sources
Now before looking at how to get more patients, we need to first look at how we get patients into the practice currently. For most consultants, this is limited to referrals from local GP’s, from hospital colleagues, and the odd recommendation from former patients. There are very many other ways to get patients into your practice but this covers the way most consultants get their patients. So the obvious first step is to see where your patients are coming from and do more to get patients from those known sources, sources that work for you. So in this example it might mean making yourself more visible to GP’s e.g. with sponsored meetings and presentations, or patient education leaflets. It might mean a concerted effort to get more referrals directly from patients, and there are various ways of doing this. One very simple yet overlooked way is to simply ASK them!
2. Increase patient numbers by expanding your ‘Marketing Funnel’
The concept of the marketing funnel is one we will return to at a later date, but in short it means looking for additional ways of getting patients into your practice. This might mean advertising in various magazines for example. Cosmetic surgeons employ this technique very well by advertising their services in womens magazines. It might also mean expanding your internet presence so that people searching on the internet find you that way. It might mean joint ventures with other people who have access to patients you might like to see. For example rheumatologists could consider partnering with orthopaedic surgeons.
3. Change your case-mix
Now, you might want to change the case mix of patients you see to reflect your own clinical interests and expertise or to increase your income, or both at the same time of course. There are surgeons who forgo the bigger surgical cases and simply perform a large number of smaller cases such as hernias. Or gastroenterologists who perform prodigous numbers of endoscopies. Or see patients requiring more prolonged follow-up rather than short follow-up. Every speciality has this type of case mix: what is yours?
4. 80:20 Marketing
Finally, this is a subtle yet a natural extension of the examples above. Richard Koch in his famous book ‘The 80:20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less’ expounded upon Pareto’s principle (we’ll return to this later too) which states that all aspects of life are seriously skewed – and that the ratio is frequently found to be 80:20. What this means is that maybe 80% of your results comes from 20% of your efforts – and anyone who has ever sat an exam knows this to be true! It might be for example that 80% of your income comes from 20% of your case mix. The importance and value of this is that once you have identified the all-important 20%, it allows you to focus your efforts on spending more time on that highly productive 20% and less on the less-productive 80%. This ‘A’-level strategy on its own will seriously increase your private income.