“Not enough hours in a day.” That’s how many small business owners felt before the coronavirus pandemic. But now there are some who are not quite sure what to do with excess time resulting from their physical doors being closed.
The short answer: a lot those tasks you never had time for.
Given the day-in, day-out work required to run your practice, you may have found before the outbreak that important-but-not-urgent tasks got pushed to the side.
Of course, the COVID-19 outbreak brings with it a new set of business challenges that take time to address. But if the pause to in-office patient flow has left you and your staff with more time on your hands than you know what to do with, you might find the ways some of your peers are spending their time inspirational.
They’re Giving Their Websites a Facelift
“Building a new website has been on my back burner for two years. Over the last two weeks, it’s almost complete.” – Mitesh Kapadia, M.D.
An invaluable part of your online presence, your website is often your second chance to make a first impression. This is where you can connect with potential patients and showcase not only your expertise, but what is important to you as a practice. If you haven’t updated your site in some time, now might be as good a time as any to give it a facelift. Things to consider:
Content. Your tagline. Your bio. Your contact information. Your staff roster and services. Even the copyright year in your website footer. Make sure the words on your website describe your business as it looks today.
Related: 6 Tips For Writing a Winning Bio
Multimedia. Ensure your photos are up to date and that they look clear, not pixelated. New headshot or staff photos? Now is a good time to swap them in.
Links. Have someone click on every link on your website to make sure they all work—and that those links are still relevant. You don’t want your website to be a pathway to a dead end on the web.
Load time. Does our website take forever to load? Not only is it a bad user experience, but it can also hurt your ranking on Google. Here’s a guide on how to assess and fix website load time issues to pass along to the person who manages your site.
COVID-19 contingencies. Consumers will want to know just how far they will be able to get with your practice at this time. That’s why RealSelf recently updated profile pages to let doctors who opt into doing so outline their services and plans while physical distancing measures are in place.
You should do the same on your website. Make it immediately clear if you’re offering virtual consultations and how to schedule one. Modified hours? Set expectations with visitors for when they can expect to get one of your remote practice coordinators on the line.
They’re Refreshing Marketing Materials
“This is a great time to…comb through the content that we have created in the past.” – Young Cho, M.D.
“We’ve now had time to go back and review our before-and-after photos to enhance our gallery to give patients a better understanding of facial surgery.” – Jill L. Hessler, M.D.
Important marketing collateral including print materials, before-and-after photos, blog posts, FAQ, videos and more can sometimes be overlooked or not adequately updated and refreshed due to time constraints. This is also a great opportunity to get input from members of your staff and create a fresh batch of collateral to help you attract and manage patients now and post-crisis.
FAQ. Involve your staff in creating a list of the most often asked questions from both potential and current patients. RealSelf questions and comments on your social media posts other great sources for commonly asked questions from consumers and patients.
Print Materials. Take this time to refresh dated materials, or to create new materials that highlight a procedure that you would like to perform more often or a new service offering, like new or expanded virtual consultation availability.
Comment Cards. Collaborate with your staff members to create virtual and print comment cards that are specific to patients’ different stages of engagement with you, including their initial consult, pre- and post-op sessions, and the procedure itself. While online reviews are a critical tool for getting feedback and marketing your practice, asking patients a specific and consistent set of questions at every stage of their interaction with your practice enables you to make targeted adjustments to every facet of the patient experience.
Related: RealSelf University series: Why and How to Get Patient Reviews
Before-and-After Photos. If you have a library of before-and-after photos that you haven’t yet posted, now is the time to get back on track.
Additionally, it may be worth taking a second look at your photo descriptions and considering re-writes, adding more details that speak to what a patient can expect. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the expert-driven context you add can speak volumes to patients considering a procedure.
They’re Testing and Learning With Virtual Appointments
“We want to keep connected to prospective patients so when the ban is lifted we have a surgical plan already.” – George Marosan, M.D.
You may have been hesitant to implement virtual consultations prior to the current pandemic, but they are now an important part of connecting with both current and potential patients.
During a recent RealSelf University webinar, attendees told us that while only a few (6%) were regularly conducting virtual appointments before the virus, a healthy majority (74%) are now offering to meet virtually with current and potential patients.
What’s more, nearly 60% of RealSelf consumers told us in a late-March survey that they’re interested in virtual appointments, and that’s just so far.
From a marketing and business perspective, it’s important to make yourself available now for two reasons. One: consumers are still researching procedures. And two: you’ll want to ensure you’re not starting with an empty patient pipeline when things return to normal.
Additionally, what began as an adjustment to this time of physical distancing could become a new norm. It is not hard to imagine consumers, newly initiated to virtual appointments (and many other virtual experiences) out of necessity, seeing them as a must-have option on the other side of this pandemic.
Related: Visit RealSelf University for a multi-part education module, Virtual Appointments: We’re Not Closed!
They’re Filling Out Their Content
“There are 3 papers I have at various stages of completion that I will now devote time to.” – Michael P. Goodman, M.D.
Finish your half-done papers. Shore up your library of content. A well-constructed blog post or thoughtful video is a powerful way to go a bit deeper into topics potential patients want to know more about.
Video, in particular, can be a great way to connect with people and let your personality shine through. It is also a relatively time-efficient way to cover a wide range of topics in a short period of time. They do not need to be professionally edited, but we do recommend one topic per video to make them user-friendly, searchable and focused. You might also turn written content into videos or vice versa, so that consumers can choose the format they prefer.
Related: How to Be Authentic On Camera
While COVID-19 is creating a trying time for all, you can use the temporary window of newly available hours to work on some of those projects that kept being pushed aside. In the process, you can tee your practice up to rally when all of this is over.
How are you responding?
We’re in this together. Tell us how your practice is adapting in the wake of COVID-19 so that we can share best practices with everyone.