The Intake

Insights for those starting, managing, and growing independent healthcare practices

7 ways to attract new patients to your practice in 2024

Get new patients and grow your practice with these digital strategies.

Physician and medical practice manager read about ways to attract new patients

At a Glance

  • Optimize your online presence — this includes having a mobile-friendly website, claiming business profiles on sites like Google and Yelp, using original photos, publishing blog content, and using SEO to drive traffic and establish credibility.
  • Treat online reviews seriously by responding to them all and proactively requesting more reviews.
  • Adopt patient-friendly conveniences like online scheduling, text messaging, and patient portals to align with patient expectations for on-demand service.
  • Invest in paid search advertising to put your practice at the top of relevant local searches.

Growing a medical practice means attracting net-new patients. But too often practices focus on the strategies that worked in the past instead of those that will carry them into the future. While word-of-mouth recommendations and in-network referrals are still viable channels for new patients, building your web and mobile strategy will give your practice another way to boost patient acquisition.

More than half of respondents look online to find new doctors, dentists, or medical care, and 1 in 4 do so regularly, according to a recent survey by Tebra. 

Practices must shore up their digital strategies in order to take advantage of online interest — or risk losing patients to other local providers. Here are 7 ways to leverage digital strategies to attract new patients to your practice. 

Patient Perspectives Report

1. Refine your web presence

The first step of a digital strategy to increase net-new patients is to refine your practice’s web presence. At a minimum, practices need a professional website that clearly lists critical information like your services, location, hours, and contact information. Make sure that calls to action are prominent and make it easy for people to call your practice or book an appointment online. 

A mobile-friendly website, one that is optimized for viewing on a smartphone and not just on a laptop or desktop, is essential as more than half (62%) of web traffic came from mobile devices in 2022. A website that loads slowly or is challenging for users to navigate on mobile devices could mean missing out new patient interest. 

Since prospective patients are likely to explore beyond your website when seeking information about your practice online, be sure to also claim your business profiles on sites like Google, Yelp, and Healthgrades.

2. Build your SEO

Part of any digital strategy to attract new patients must center around search engine optimization (SEO). SEO for independent practices is the summation of ways a practice can organize and enhance its web presence for more favorable treatment from search engines like Google. 

SEO is an art, not a science, and requires strategy plus a willingness to try new things. Google keeps quiet on the exact algorithm it uses to determine rankings, but it has shared some elements that contribute to them.

The photos you select for your practice website can positively support SEO, too. ”

For example, Google establishes local search rankings by 3 factors: relevance, distance, and prominence. The final factor, prominence, can be influenced by the quantity and quality of ratings and reviews a business receives, since Google refers to these to indicate how prominent reviewers consider the business to be. 

The photos you select for your practice website can positively support SEO, too, as Google favors original photography that corresponds to the content on a website over stock images. In a Tebra survey, medical practices that used original photographs to boost local SEO saw increases by 33% in phone appointment bookings, 15% in website bookings, and 10% in organic visits to the practice website.

Relevant and consistent blog content helps with SEO, too, as it provides a steady stream of information to Google about your website and therefore your services. Regularly publishing content that corresponds with your practice and serves the needs of your audience also helps to build credibility with prospective patients. 

3. Treat reviews like reputation management

In addition to boosting your SEO, patient reviews and testimonials act as social proof for prospective patients. A recent survey by Tebra found that 75% of respondents believe that reviews are “very” or “extremely” important. Potential patients use first-hand reviews by existing patients to gauge how their own experience with a practice will unfold — and they’re also looking to see how a practice responds to reviews. 

Responding to all reviews is a vital practice for medical providers as it conveys that the practice values patient feedback. And since 71% of people say reading reviews is the first step in searching for a new provider, implementing a system of responding to reviews could make or break your ability to attract new patients. 

Since 71% of people say reading reviews is the first step in searching for a new provider, implementing a system of responding to reviews could make or break your ability to attract new patients. ”

Practices should also implement a strategy to generate more patient reviews. Doing so can be as easy as asking patients to complete a quick survey or review, and then sharing a link that they can use to do so. Consider creating patient experience surveys to capture free-form feedback to use on your website as patient testimonials (template available here).

Use automatic post-visit follow-up text messages or emails to request that patients leave a review, and include the link to your Google Business, Yelp, or Healthgrades profile to make it seamless for them to do so. Doing so is a crucial part of how to get more reviews for your practice.

4. Offer convenient, tech-friendly options 

Patients expect the same on-demand technological conveniences from their medical providers as they experience in the rest of their day-to-day lives. At a minimum, practices should enable online scheduling; text message communication; and access to a patient portal where patients can access records, lab results, and more. 

Online scheduling simplifies the process of booking an appointment and increases the likelihood that patients can find a time slot that works for them. Text message communication puts the conversation directly where patients already spend their time, and makes it easy to send follow-up reminders and care instructions.

At a minimum, practices should enable online scheduling; text message communication; and access to a patient portal. ”

And with patient portals, patients can skip the phone call to the office and simply log on themselves to handle asynchronous requests like prescription refills, electronic medical records, and more.  

Patients expect these conveniences and are likely to prefer providers and practices that offer them. Tebra found that 68% of patients surveyed would be willing to switch providers to get their top preferences. 

For practices that haven’t yet invested in some of these advances, doing so can feel like a lot of change at once. But while these systems come with a slight learning curve, they will ultimately free up office staff from administrative tasks so they can focus on providing an excellent patient experience and other tasks that grow the practice.

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5. Re-engage lapsed patients

It’s easy to think that patients who haven’t come back to the practice are lost, but that’s not necessarily the case. With so many patients pressing pause on medical care, some just haven’t found the time or urgency to return to their medical providers. Practices can capitalize on this by re-engaging lapsed patients.  

Arrange a system that allows office staff to compile a list of patients who haven’t been back to the practice and begin an outreach campaign with automated text messages or emails that allow you to drip information to them over time, encouraging them to come back. 

Even if a patient left because of a bad experience, that doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. A survey found that more than two-thirds of patients who left negative reviews would return to a practice if it responded to their complaint. 

6. Post regular, relevant content on social media

Words like “thought leadership” and “brand recognition” aren’t just for big tech companies. In the digital age, small businesses like independent medical and dental practices can benefit from investing in strategies to boost these, too. 

Starting social media accounts and posting relevant content to them regularly is an effective way to do so. Building a loyal following on social media will support you in building your practice brand and reputation as a quality medical provider and friendly place.

Remember that each channel is different and you must leverage each uniquely for best results. Content that resonates on Facebook might not have the same impact on Instagram. Consider outsourcing social media strategy for best results.

7. Invest in paid search and advertising 

Paid search is a highly effective way to attract local patients by positioning your practice at the top of relevant search results. For example, as an orthopedic surgeon in the Durham, North Carolina, area, you’d want to rise to the top of the results for a search like “knee doctor Durham.” 

Paid search is a highly effective way to attract local patients by positioning your practice at the top of relevant search results. ”

Local SEO can get you there — but with time. SEO is a long game that requires consistent strategy, effort, and investment. Google also allows businesses to skip the line, so to speak, if they’re willing to pay for the top search result positions. 

You can do this by bidding on keywords and paying for each time a user clicks on your ad, which is known as pay-per-click (PPC) — and which can really pay off when it comes to attracting new patients. Stats vary based on the source but most suggest that more than 25% of people click on the first Google search result. 

Implementing strategies for patient acquisition

Most practitioners go into the medical field because they want to help people, not because they want to grow a business. Yet at the end of the day, independent practices are local businesses that benefit from savvy digital strategies and good business acumen.

However, providers and practice managers don't need to shoulder the burden on their own. Tebra provides a full suite of technology and services to support independent practices in growing their business and providing a stellar patient experience to retain existing ones. 

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