Patient Journey Map: 5 Stages to Get New Patients to Your Health & Wellness Practice
Are you trying to get new patients for your health and wellness practice?
Do you operate a health and wellness clinic in Edmonton and are noticing an increase in competition from new clinics?
Maybe you’ve tried a few different marketing ideas. You may have tried traditional advertisements, such as radio, billboards, Canada Post direct mail, sponsoring events or even on City of Edmonton buses. You may have also tried digital marketing tactics, such as social media, SEO, Google Ads or Facebook ads.
Did you get mixed results? Were the results less than you were hoping for?
You’re not alone.
Many business owners spend their marketing budgets on various tactics, hoping to get good results. Sometimes they get good results, other times they don’t. Eventually they find the combination of tactics that gets them results. They may or may not fully know the reasons why their tactics worked.
This strategy is called the “trial-and-error” strategy.
It works, but it takes a long time to figure out the right combination of tactics. It’s also very expensive, because you have to keep trying different tactics until you find the right combination that works for your practice.
The reason is that every business is unique. Your health and wellness practice is also unique.
There’s a reason that your patients chose your practice. It’s the combination of you, your doctors and associates, your treatment efficacy, your patient-centred care, your team, the quality of service they receive, their perceived value for your services, your location proximity to their home and work, etc.
Learning from your patients allows you to position your practice, your services, and your messaging to resonate with them. This helps you create a focused strategy for attracting more patients like them.
But attracting patients to your practice is just the first stage.
Your patients go through a journey before they come into your health and wellness clinic for their first appointment. You can map out this journey during every point of contact. This is called a Patient Journey Map. Patients move through this map by being filtered down into a funnel. This is often called a sales and marketing funnel.
Stage 01 + Awareness
The first stage in a Patient Journey Map is Awareness. In other words, your potential patient has become aware that you and your practice exist. They may be actively looking for a new health and wellness provider. Or, they may have found your practice by accident.
Either way, they are now aware that you exist.
They may have become aware of your practice because of a referral from an existing patient. They may have been searching for a new health and wellness provider on Google and found your website. They may have seen your social media post on their friend's page. Or, they may have seen your flyer in the mail.
Regardless of your tactic for getting their attention, they are now aware that you exist.
That’s just stage one.
Not every person in your market will become aware that you exist. At least not in one year, unless you have a very large marketing budget.
So how many people in your market will become aware that you exist?
But first, how big is your market?
Your market is all of the people that could be potential patients to your practice. Most people will only travel a certain distance to get to your practice. So, the people within a specific radius are your market. But this radius depends on your practice, the amount of competition nearby, the quality of service received, etc.
For example, let’s say that your health and wellness practice is located in a neighbourhood in Edmonton with 50,000 people. That means that a certain percentage of these people will become aware that you exist, based on the quality of your marketing strategy.
Let’s say that your marketing strategy was able to capture the awareness of 20% of your market in one year, a total of 10,000 potential patients.
Stage 02 + Interest
Now that you got their attention, what’s next?
Ideally, this potential patient may have some level of interest for the services that you offer, either now or in the future. If they do, they will likely spend time on your website, learn about you and your practice through your blog posts or webinars, or spend time reading your mail flyer.
But not every person who becomes aware that you exist will also have interest in your services. Those that are interested likely have a specific problem that they’re trying to solve, such as a health problem or injury. Or, they think that they or someone they know could benefit from your services in the future.
Regardless of their reasons, if they’re interested in your services, they will spend time learning about them. But the amount of people that actually spend time learning about your services depends on the quality of the information received.
If your website writing is difficult to read, or if there is very little content on your website to explore, or if your blog article, webinar or social media posts are not engaging, your potential patients may lose interest and move on to another website.
Similarly, if your mail flyer doesn’t capture their interest, they will throw it away instantly. People are ruthless with their direct mail flyers, so it has to be especially unique to capture their interest.
Let’s say that your marketing is well made, so you can capture the interest of 50% of your potential patients, a total of 5,000 people.
Now that you’ve captured their interest, what’s next?
Stage 03 + Desire
We now have 5,000 people who have some level of interest in your practice.
They have found your practice through a referral, found your website through a search engine, or seen your social media post or direct mail flyer. These marketing tools were also very engaging, so they captured the interest of 5,000 people.
Some of these people may start to feel a sense of desire to purchase your products and services. They may feel like your practice is the right fit to help solve their health and wellness problem.
They display this by following you on social media, subscribing to your newsletters, researching your reviews on Google, Facebook, Yelp or RateMDs, or even emailing your clinic questions. They are displaying actions that indicate a desire to potentially purchase your products and services.
Not everyone that expresses interest in your practice will have a desire to purchase your products and services. At least not today. They might in the future, if they have a health and wellness problem that they need help solving. That’s why they follow you on social media or subscribe to your newsletters. They want to stay in touch, for later.
Let’s say that your branding and communication was very compelling and 20% of people moved into the next stage of the funnel: Desire. There are now 1,000 people that have a desire to purchase your products and services.
But unfortunately, they don’t all follow through on purchasing your products and services. Some do, some don’t. Why?
Stage 04 + Action
As your potential patients move from the top of the funnel to the bottom, your marketing strategy helps move them through the stages. Your sales strategy helps to establish and nurture a relationship so that your patients feel comfortable in moving through each stage of the Patient Journey Map until they are ready to take action and call your clinic to book their appointment.
But not every potential patient that calls your clinic has decided to book an appointment.
Sometimes they call to ask questions, learn about your health practitioners, your services offered, your hours, your insurance coverage, etc. They may be calling two or three other clinics on the same day, asking similar questions.
If your front desk staff are not well trained in receiving these calls, that potential patient may not book an appointment. The most common reason you’ll hear is, “I’ll call you back.” Sometimes they do. Other times they don’t. If they don’t, it’s likely because they called another clinic and booked an appointment there.
Your clinic may have similar or better services, similar or better reviews, etc. Why did the person book an appointment at another clinic across the street instead of your practice?
Ultimately, people often book an appointment at the clinic that has a front desk employee that is the most skilled in sales.
Every business sells a product and/or service. It’s how their business is monetized and generates revenue. Your health and wellness practice also sells products and/or services. However, if the person who is selling them makes your patients feel uncomfortable for being “sold”, they may call another clinic.
Your front desk staff are your sales team. They need to be well trained to provide an exceptional patient experience and book every potential patient caller.
In our example, let’s say that 50% of your potential patients call and book an appointment, resulting in a total of 500 new patients in one year.
These numbers are used to illustrate a point. Your practice has a very specific set of numbers. By creating this map, you can identify any gaps in your patient’s journey and know where to direct your time and resources.
Some health and wellness practitioners invest time and resources in one stage of the map, not realizing that the biggest gap is on another stage of the map. By re-directing their time and resources to the stage of the map that needs the most attention, they will get a greater return on their investment.
This is the end of the Patient Journey Map before your potential patients become a patient. But they still continue on their journey after they become a patient. This potentially ongoing stage in their journey is called Retention.
Stage 05 + Retention
Some patients will come in for an appointment once and you will never see them again. Other patients come in for an appointment and you see them again and again.
The difference in these two examples is dependent on you, your doctors and associates, your treatment efficacy, patient-centred care, quality of service they receive, perceived value for services, etc.
The more you can improve on these metrics, the higher your patient retention will be. Your patients will not come back again if your health and wellness practitioners make your patients feel uncomfortable for being “sold” products or services they don’t truly want or need; or, perhaps they do genuinely need it, but don’t fully understand their value; or if your front desk staff do not provide exceptional customer service; or if your office manager does not maintain a well-organized and professionally managed office, so appointments are usually running late.
However, if your health and wellness practitioners understand their patients’ needs, educate them when diagnosing their problem and presenting their treatment solution, and provide options on their treatment plan, then your patients will feel comfortable in accepting the treatment case.
If your front desk staff provides an exceptional patient experience and your office manager ensures that all appointments are on schedule, then the patient will be impressed with their experience in your practice. They will come back for additional services and refer their friends and family to your practice. They will also become advocates of your practice, writing positive reviews and testimonials for you and your health and wellness practice in Edmonton.
Sometimes our clients approach us with a specific problem and they want a specific solution. For example, they have an old website and want to create a new, modern website. Other times clients approach us with an end-goal in mind, but they’re not sure of how to realize that goal. The most common goal of health and wellness practitioners in Edmonton is that they want to grow their practice with new patients.
Instead of starting our process by implementing marketing tactics, we take a step back and look at our big picture strategy. We help our clients create a Patient Journey Map to identify gaps in their patient’s journey. This allows us to determine the most efficient use of our clients’ time and resources. Then we can implement marketing tactics based on insightful data. By investing our time and resources in the most effective strategy, we help our clients get evidence-based results.
If you want to grow your practice with new patients, or have any questions about this article, please feel free to contact us at:
Sarkis Hakopdjanian is an experienced business advisor with extensive education and training from Canada’s leading academic and corporate institutions in business planning, sales and marketing, as well as practice management.