With COVID-19 still in full swing in the United States, many practice owners are reporting decreases in revenue. Many people are avoiding going out unless absolutely necessary, and people are definitely avoiding places where they think they’re more likely to contract the virus, like hospitals and physicians’ offices. I know several providers who have had to close their practices as a result of the changes that have come along with this pandemic. But other providers haven’t noticed a change in their practice’s revenue. In this article, I’ll discuss some of the things the providers who haven’t noticed unwanted changes are doing and what you can do to fortify your practices against COVID-induced financial ruin.
Know exactly who you serve and do it well
The top way to fortify your practice against unforeseen changes in the economy is to know exactly who you serve best and to become extremely good at serving that audience. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “A jack of all trades is a master of none.” I’m not necessarily saying this is true in all contexts, but what I am saying is that your patients and prospective patients need to see you as the go-to expert for treating a particular condition or for helping a particular group of people. If they don’t understand who you can help most effectively, it will be difficult for them to think of you when someone you can really help asks them for a referral—even if they are seeing you and getting great results. And this isn’t to say that you can’t treat other conditions; I’m simply saying you need to be known as the go-to person for one thing, and you need to be seen as an authority in addressing that one thing. You can become an authority by publishing a book on the topic, producing related videos, appearing on podcasts, writing blog posts, or using some other means to communicate your skill and knowledge concerning this topic to prospective patients.
In my practice, I help survivors of childhood trauma overcome the chronic mental and physical health concerns they are at increased risk for as a result of their difficult pasts. I’m known for helping trauma survivors. This is what I’m best at. Do people who haven’t had traumatic childhoods come to me? Yes. But I’m known for helping trauma survivors, and when someone who has suffered abuse or had an otherwise stressful childhood is diagnosed with a mental health disorder or an autoimmune disease in adulthood asks one of my patients for a referral, I’m the first person who comes to mind, because they know what I do and who I serve and they know that I do it well.
Adding additional services
If you’ve already niched down, you know who you serve, and you do it well, but your practice is still struggling, you may need to consider adding new services to your practice. When COVID-19 hit, many practitioners who had not previously offered telemedicine services pivoted and started to offer it. This, of course, has turned out to be a very smart move for them. In addition to telemedicine services, it may be of value for you to add other in-office services. One way to go about this is to survey your patients and see what health services they are getting elsewhere and then begin to offer those services in-house. For example, are they going to the local drip bar to get IVs? Are they getting neurofeedback done? Medical massage? Are they seeing a health coach? a therapist?
By finding out what services your patients are getting, vetting these services to make sure they are scientifically sound and align with your healing philosophy, and then adding those services to your practice whether it be through adding an independent contractor or through creating some sort of referral relationship, you can add a previously untapped income stream to your practice and effectively fortify it against the impending recession. As your patients’ provider, you are their trusted advisor when it comes to their health. The vast majority of patients would prefer to receive health services as a referral from a provider they trust over finding and vetting providers of these services themselves, and offering these services in-house can help set you apart from the competition.
Giving, which is the third thing that providers are doing that's leading to increased revenue and fortify their practices, may seem a bit counter-intuitive but it isn’t. Here’s an example of what I mean. About four years ago, my family and I moved to a brand new state and opened up a cash-pay practice there. We didn’t know many people there and I was a new mom, so I wasn’t able to get out and network as much as I wanted. The practice began to grow, but very slowly. I didn’t want the space to go to waste and service has always been one of my core values, so my husband and I decided to start a community service initiative where we gave back to the community. Once a month, we offered our services free of charge to people who needed our services but couldn’t afford them. To our surprise, as we promoted this initiative, we found that we became more well known in the community and beyond, and we started to see a dramatic increase in paying patients. By our second year, people were traveling from other states to be seen at our practice. I told this story to illustrate something that I truly believe: there’s something incredibly special that happens when we give without expecting to receive in return. Things have a way of coming full circle.
To summarize, many providers are experiencing declining revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic, but focusing on a specific audience, establishing themselves as experts in their field, adding additional services, and giving back are a few things that providers are doing to fortify their practices against the impending recession. One or more of these things may be beneficial for you as well.