How to measure new patient conversion rates for your healthcare practice

If you want to run an effective healthcare business, you need to know your lead-to-appointment conversion rates. Practice owners are often shocked to discover that they only book 40-50% of their new patient leads. In fact, Liine’s analysis of 278,000 healthcare leads in early 2023 showed that only 39.9% of marketing-sourced leads ever book an appointment.

There are many ways to improve lead-to-appointment conversion rates. Practices can adjust marketing spend towards highest-converting channels and campaigns. Call staff training can drastically increase appointments, as booking rates can vary by as much as 60% between staff members. Operational changes can prevent issues such as scheduling conflicts or unanswered phone calls. But without lead tracking, you won’t know what levers to pull or whether your changes are working.

The patient conversion rate formula

Luckily, the formula for your conversion rate is simple. Take your number of booked appointments and divide it by your number of new leads. Easy, right? Well, no. With healthcare practices, “simple” does not translate to “easy”.

Phone call leads, primarily, are very hard to track. At a bare minimum, we need to track where each call came from, which ones were actually new patients (versus existing patients or other callers), and which ones ended up booking appointments. That will let us calculate our new lead conversion rate and the performance of each marketing channel or campaign.

So how do we track these?

The Mistake: Manual Tracking

Asking call staff to manually track every call is…an option. But, to be blunt, not a viable one. We have certainly seen practices try this, but every one of them has since given up. The primary issue is that even the best staff with the best intentions will struggle to capture accurate data.

Call staff should be focused on helping patients schedule appointments. That is their primary role. There will always be some level of data collection, but having to run through a checklist of required fields on every call will distract from having a productive conversation. And in reality, parts of the checklist simply get skipped or forgotten in the daily chaos.

Call staff also generally wear a lot of hats. They are not a traditional, dedicated sales team. They are not having multiple, lengthy conversations with prospects and they are not trained to operate like full-time sales roles. CRM systems and their approach just weren’t built for the realities of the healthcare call center nor front desk.

A Better Option: Basic Call Tracking Providers

Call tracking solutions exist precisely to solve some of these challenges, but they also have their drawbacks. At a basic level, call tracking companies are creating multiple phone numbers for your practice and track where each number is placed. With the right provider, you’ll automatically know the marketing channel for each caller based on which phone number they called.

For many businesses, this may be enough. However, for healthcare practices, we ideally want to know which callers were new patients and whether they booked an appointment. Unfortunately, these systems don’t really know. To get around this, many call tracking companies will rely on some guesswork. For example, it is common for them to assume that if a call lasts a certain duration, it must be a new patient. The idea is that an existing patient wouldn’t need as long on the phone, but obviously this is not going to be very accurate.

Another major drawback to these platforms is that they cannot distinguish duplicate interactions, particularly between your multiple lead channels. So, if someone calls twice and then fills out a form, they may report 2 or 3 new leads. Again, this is going to lead to less-accurate reporting.

The Best Option: Conversational Intelligence

A new breed of lead management platforms designed specifically for healthcare are now combining call tracking with conversational intelligence. Conversational intelligence records, transcribes, and analyzes phone conversations to provide the additional answers we’re looking for.

Liine is the #1 pioneer of this space, so perhaps we have a bias. However, there is currently no better way to capture the data we’re after.

So, what does this conversational intelligence actually do for us?

Imagine if a 3rd party was listening to every patient phone call and taking notes behind the scenes. Did this call get sent to voicemail? Which staff member answered the call? Is this a new patient? What treatments are they interested in? Did they book an appointment? If not, why not? This is what conversational intelligence can track for you. And as you may have noticed, conversation intelligence is seamlessly tracking additional data points above and beyond our basic requirements.

Aside from collecting much more accurate data, this technology also unlocks prescriptive solutions. With marketing data tied to patient outcomes, you can make better marketing investments. If you know the conversion rate of each staff member, you can reward high performing employees or spot those who need training. And since you know each staff member’s reasons why patients are not booking, you can pinpoint their individual training needs. If you know when your practice is missing calls entirely, or other reasons why callers aren’t booking appointments, you can adjust your operations to solve these issues.

There are a few platforms who are dipping their toes into conversational intelligence for healthcare. Liine is unique in that we combine form leads, online bookings, and call tracking into one platform, while also consolidating duplicate leads. Additionally, our AI is trained upon millions of actual patient phone calls.

Now, in one platform, practices can view all their new patient leads, where they came from, their booking outcomes, and more. Practice managers can easily report on aggregate data, timeline trends, or examine specific conversations. 

Yes, of course we would believe this is the future of lead management. But we’re in good company, with the largest sales platforms like Gong, Salesforce, Hubspot, Salesloft, and more also leaning into conversational intelligence as a flagship feature.