COVID-19 has severely limited audiologists’ ability to run their practices and serve patients. But even though you may have been forced to scale back or shut down your services, there are several things you can do to help your practice survive this crisis intact.
Recently Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price sat down with CounselEAR President Brian Urban to discuss ways practice owners can adapt right now and future-proof themselves for after the pandemic is over. Their conversation ranged from specific technologies audiologists are using to test patients to unique ways to keep employees engaged if they’re working from home. They also discussed ways to make your business more efficient, like integrating payment processing with your practice management software to make accepting payments a breeze.
You can view the full discussion below, but keep reading for some of the key takeaways.
9 Things to Make Your Audiology Practice Thrive
- Stay connected with your patients. Whether it’s through email, calls, texts, or telehealth services, it’s important to let your patients know that you still care and want to help. Let them know what services you’re still able to provide or simply ask them how they’re doing. These connections may not seem like much right now, but they will mean a lot to the people who depend on you for their hearing health.
- Don’t forget new patients. You might assume that since your practice is closed, there’s no way for you to acquire new customers. But hearing loss does not stop just because people are under a stay-at-home order. Reach out to referring physicians, advertise your services online or on social media, invest some time in email marketing, or consider a promotion. LinkedIn or Facebook ads offer quick, affordable options and allow you to record a personal message.
- Use your extra time wisely. If your practice has slowed or closed, you probably have time on your hands. Use that time to help make your business more efficient. Do you need to upgrade your practice management software? What about adding an online payment platform? Now’s the time to do some research or schedule product demos. Have you been wanting to reorganize your office space? What projects have you been meaning to get to but haven’t had time to do? Now is your chance.
- Get creative. Everyone is trying new things right now, so use this opportunity to experiment. One practice owner has continued to test patients at his clinic by setting them up in a different room and talking to them via video call. You can also reach out to your state licensure board to learn the minimum requirements for an online hearing test and research options to see if you can test your patients virtually. No one is going to judge you for trying something unusual right now–in fact they expect it.
- Consider patient convenience. Over the past two months, practices have been forced to offer certain services out of necessity, but some of these may become the new normal. Telehealth, advance or touchless payment options, or curbside assistance provide enormous convenience for customers–especially older ones. Investing in these solutions now will make you more prepared for the future and will also allow you to reopen gradually while maintaining patient safety.
- Lean on your employees. If your staff is working from home, they may feel like they don’t have anything to contribute. Look for ways they can help, even if it’s outside their typical role. Can they help you set up a social media platform? Can they take the lead on patient outreach or researching new software solutions? Not only will your team’s efforts help the business, but it will help your employees grow in their own skill sets and make them feel like valued participants in the service you provide.
- Harness the power of stories. What improvements are your patients seeing thanks to new tools you’re offering? How have you gone above and beyond to help during this time? Specific, human-centered stories are powerful communication tools. What stories do you want to be telling right now?
- Make the most of tough decisions. Mountaineers talk about two types of fun. Type 1 fun is the kind you have in the moment, when you’re doing something really enjoyable. Type 2 fun happens when you do something that you can be proud of for a long time, even if it was hard or painful to accomplish at the time. We’re not having a lot of Type 1 fun right now, but crises are great times to seek out Type 2 fun. When you look back on this moment years from now, how do you want to remember yourself? Consider this when forced to make difficult decisions about how to operate your business
- Be vulnerable. Everyone is going through a difficult time right now, and if you work with a lot of older patients or those who are immunocompromised, they might also be very scared. Communicating that you care about them and are here for them and sharing your own struggles can go a long way in creating connection, and those connections can sustain you and your business for a long time.
Remember: patients still need your services, and they will need them long after this crisis is over. The things you do today can help make your business stronger so you can provide even higher-quality care tomorrow. To find out how Gravity may be able to help, visit our services page or click here to schedule a call with one of our audiology specialists.
by Brooke Carey, Lead Storyteller