For some, “lead management” may be a new concept, so let us quickly define a couple of terms. We’ll use the term “lead” to refer to any new patient contact that may potentially become a consult or an appointment. These leads can come from any combination of physician referrals, web form submissions, and incoming phone calls.
As a business, our growth goals are to increase our number of qualified leads and to convert as many of these into scheduled bookings as possible. Understand that we aren’t using this language to dehumanize the patient, but rather to create parallels to standard business concepts so we may explore how they also apply to growing healthcare practices.
So what is “lead management”? In the context of healthcare, we’re talking about how a practice tracks and works with new patient inquiries. How many new patient phone calls do you receive? What is the booking status for each inquiry? Which marketing channels are working? These are the types of questions that any efficient sales and marketing operation must be able to account for, and growth-focused healthcare practices are no different.
Allow me to highlight 5 reasons why you really need to care about new patient lead management:
We all know that marketing is part art and part science. But that science piece is really important. Effective marketing requires tracking your ROI (return-on-investment) to the best of your ability. Otherwise you’re just paying the marketing fairy and hoping new patients magically show up. When you track the marketing channels that are driving new patients, you can focus your resources on what’s working. Your limited time and dollars will go further and your business will grow faster.
Healthcare lead tracking comes with some unique operational challenges. I will cover these in a future post, but for now let me suggest some goals to aim for:
First, track your new patient leads separately from existing patients. You really want to know how new patients are finding you. Second, capture the marketing source (or channel) for every possible new patient lead. You want to work off of accurate and complete data. Third, track the booking status for each lead so you know your conversion rates. If possible, segment your reporting by marketing campaign, staff member, treatment requested, etc. for valuable insights. And finally, try to calculate a value for your leads based on the revenues they ultimately drive. This lets you calculate the ROI so you know which efforts to invest in.
We’ve discussed marketing attribution, but new patient lead management involves tracking other metrics as well. These details can reveal operational blind spots or missed opportunities. For example, speed-to-lead is an important metric for booking new patients. Surveys have shown that contacting new leads within 60 seconds can increase the booking rate by 400%. Your lead management system should let you track your team’s response times to website form leads, chat leads, social media inquiries, etc. as this can have a huge impact on revenue.
Another important metric to track is the reasons new patients are NOT booking. Tracking these lost opportunities can help you estimate the revenue lost due to pricing objections, scheduling issues, out-of-network insurance, treatments not offered, or other causes.
Tracking the number of missed phone calls during the day can also be valuable. Small changes like a staff scheduling adjustment or adding an additional phone line can result in major revenues from handling more inbound calls.
Of course they may be other metrics worth tracking for your practice. However, if you’re not tracking this type of data, you certainly have revenue blind spots you are missing.
I know we don’t like to use the term “sales”, but we should recognize that whoever is handling new patient phone calls is effectively acting as your sales team. Now, they may not be dedicated sales professionals. They may wear 4 or 5 different hats in your organization. But their performance has a significant impact on how many new patient inquiries convert into bookings.
If every non-healthcare sales organization is tracking the effectiveness of team members, shouldn’t a healthcare practice? Track the conversion rates (lead-to-booking success rates) for each team member in order to praise star performers, uncover training opportunities, and align staff with their best abilities. If you are able to segment the “reasons not booked” by each team member, you’ll have even deeper insight into specific coaching areas. Understanding what’s happening with your team is the first step toward rewarding performance, providing training, and improving your booking rates.
Non-healthcare industries with typical sales teams will “work” their leads – that is, following up with communications to try and close a sale. While your practice may not require the same aggressiveness, there are still times when it is appropriate to follow-up with your inquiries. Most obviously, if you haven’t yet talked to the lead! Working with website leads, for example, can often require multiple attempts before getting a response. You may even have to combine phone call, text, and email outreach. The proper lead management setup makes this more efficient and effective.
Additionally, there may be times when it is appropriate to follow-up with leads. This could be a simple follow-up call to certain leads that inquired about services. Or it could be more targeted, such as a discount promotion to any leads who didn’t book due to price objections.
One thing is certain. If you have no lead management workflows in place, you’re leaving unclaimed revenue on the table.
In all things, we must first track performance before we can prove that things are improving. And while you won’t use lead management as the ultimate measure of your practice’s growth, it is a leading indicator of what’s to come. Lead volume trends and conversion rates can inform your expected new patient revenues. In addition, whether new patient revenue is stagnant, growing, or shrinking, it is important to know why. Your solutions for lead volume issues are not the same as solutions for conversion rate issues. Other insights such as historic seasonality trends can remove much of the guesswork. Successful businesses are not blown around by every gust of wind; establish your processes so you can build forecasts, plan your goals, and measure performance.
A lot of practices look to their marketing efforts and their EHR while missing the crucial lead management stage in-between. Hopefully this post has demonstrated the importance of optimizing your patient acquisition processes – and perhaps even sparked a few ideas. Today’s fastest growing practices recognize the various stages of their sales funnel and are laser-focused on optimizing each.