By now, the benefits of using an EHR have been hammered into your mind. Seamless flow of information! Efficiency! Cost savings! The list goes on and on. But there’s a big benefit to your EHR you may be missing: it’s a marketing powerhouse.
The information contained within your EHR has a monetary value, Dr. John McDaniel told SECO2016 attendees. The practice marketing and business strategy expert urges physicians to go beyond the everyday user experience and capitalize on the wealth of data available about their patient base and practice.
So what’s in there, exactly?
That question is more complicated than it first may seem because each system’s reporting abilities vary, says McDaniel. But most EHRs contain three types of useful data that answer three kinds of questions essential to your practice building efforts:
- Demographics: Who are your patients? Aside from basic stats like name, age, address, gender, and insurance, there also might be things like their friends and family members, employers, hobbies, and referral sources.
- Clinical Data: Why are your patients there? What’s going on with your patients’ health, what concerns them, and how you are treating them? Data includes exam findings, medical histories, procedures, vision correction modes, appointment history, and much more.
- Practice-Level Data: What is your practice doing? E/M codes, eye codes, and S codes billed. Retail optical metrics. Revenue per location, provider, and even day of the week. The key performance indicators your EHR tracks are nearly endless.
And why is this important?
It’s called internal marketing, and it’s the lifeblood of your practice. Yes, new patients are essential. They’re also expensive. It takes more than five times the resources to replace an established patient with a new one, notes McDaniel.
Internal marketing is the easiest to manipulate, gets results, and offers the biggest bang for your buck. Furthermore, if your internal marketing isn’t up to par, the new patients you bring in may not become loyal customers. There is no faster way to burn though your marketing dollars than by attracting one-time patients.
Your recall system and other internal marketing needs to be as good as it possibly can be, and it needs to be well defined with scripts, assignment of specific roles, and accountability, advises McDaniel. “It’s clear that [practices] need to win here,” he says. And the more you segment your internal marketing, the more successful your marketing becomes.
This is where all that data comes in. Once you can quantify who your patients are, why they’re visiting your office, and what you’re doing to them while they’re there, you’ll begin to see opportunities. You might also see gaps in your client base, and discover how to better target your external marketing to fill those gaps. Overall, you’ll be able to better direct your marketing dollars, increasing your ROI.