When it comes to patient load, the nation’s medical practices fall into one of three camps: too much, not enough, or just right.

The ultimate goal is settling in the preferred Goldilocks camp: just right. If the number of people coming to your practice for treatment is on the slim side, here are a few strategies that can potentially lead to more appointments:

Enhance patient engagement
Trust may be the most important component to turn potential patients into regular patients. People already trust medical professionals — nurses, medical doctors and pharmacists placed first, second and third in Gallup’s latest honesty and ethics survey. Engaging with patients builds the rapport you need to drive up volume. However, establishing trust is easier said than done, especially when patients are transitioning from a physician they’ve been going to for years.

“To schedule follow-up appointments, leverage automated text messaging systems.”

One strategy to enhance engagement is to communicate more regularly. For instance, to schedule follow-up appointments, leverage automated text messaging systems. Or you may have the front desk call them directly. This not only gives patients much-needed reminders that everyone could use in today’s fast-paced society, but let’s them know that you’re thinking of them and truly care about their well-being. This can lead to positive reviews on message boards and good word of mouth, thus increasing referrals.

Optimize your EMR
Electronic health records are indispensable in today’s healthcare environment by keeping track of your patients’ medical history. The problem is they aren’t all built the same, to the point of you spending more time staring at your computer screen than addressing your patients’ concerns. Frustrations with usability and connectivity is what FierceHealthcare refers to as “death by a thousand clicks.” By optimizing your existing EHR system, you can spend less time looking at the screen and more time paying attention to the needs of your patient, racking up more bedside manner points that are indispensable to maintaining patients as well as adding more.

Utilize a versatile patient portal
Patient portals are another way to enhance engagement. Gone are the days when patients had to call to find out their test results. With their mobile device handy and an internet connection, they can get their blood work from literally anywhere.

And patients do take advantage of portals for diagnostic and communication purposes. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the average pediatrician answers questions that came in via the portal from 10 patients per day, mostly coming from children’s parents. However, they’re not as regularly used by older patients, a study from the Ohio State University revealed. Consider speaking with some of your older patients to see what’s preventing them from using it. It may be something as simple as they’re not being aware of it or a log-in issue that’s easily correctable.

Patients truly appreciate attentiveness, which is a component of good bedside manner. Studies show that a positive bedside manner can improve health outcomes for goals like losing weight and blood pressure regulation. These results can lead to positive online reviews, which may help you further grow your practice.

Build an online presence
Approximately 80% of adults use the internet for healthcare-related searches and services, according to a study done by Doctors.com. As a result, it’s little wonder that millions of doctors have an online presence. That alone doesn’t go far enough. Your goal should be to optimize your services so you ultimately get more clicks and search engine entries. Take a look at what your competitors are doing to optimize their presence. They may be utilizing keyword research, which involves the strategic placement of words in landing page copy that individuals search for. You may want to speak with a search optimization specialist to learn more. Also, take advantage of online scheduling functionality, which is something that many patients opt for since it’s so much easier than calling.

Social media is another way to strengthen your online presence, so long as it’s done strategically. Using Instagram to post photos of the staff can provide the personality and authenticity that patients look for in a provider. These updated pictures can help your office avoid coming across as stuffy or lacking warmth.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same is true of your patient base. In short, to increase patients, you need patience. Tangible Solutions can help you grow your practice by building the application ecosystem you need to enhance engagement, optimize workflows and increase efficiency — hallmarks of a thriving practice. Contact us today to take your operations to the next rung up the ladder of success.