The Importance of Digitising Your Osteopathic Practice

Digitising your osteopathic practice saves osteopaths time and money. See how to digitise your osteopathic practice.

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About Alan Zaia M.Ost

Ethical osteopathy business and marketing advice delivered in a British accent. You’ll find me coaching, travelling in a van or inside our courses helping osteopaths create their perfect career and work-life balance.

The Importance of Digitising Your Osteopathic Practice

Digitising your osteopathic practice

Arguably the biggest blessing for osteopaths working in the 21st century is the continued evolution of technology. Back in the day, the only option was to write all the treatment notes, flick through folders inside an office cabinet and post an advert in the local paper to bring awareness to the practice.

Since the introduction of sophisticated practice management software, easy to DIY websites, social media and automation software, osteopaths now have the decision on how much technology to integrate into their practice.

With 2023 on the horizon, having a 100% digital practice is accessible for all osteopaths. But you’re still on the fence about some things, let’s talk about why you should migrate everything analogue in your practice over to the digital world so you can put a stop to pushing paper.

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Taking and storing digital patient notes

Imagine this, you’re an associate working in a busy practice. Everything is hand-written and stored in an alphabetised filing cabinet.

While collecting patient files for the day, you can’t seem to find Sam Geoffrey’s file. After finding it under Sam Jeffrey, you see that since you last saw Sam 2 years ago, they’ve since been treated by another practitioner. Who, unfortunately, doesn’t have the best handwriting and is busy treating, so you do the best with what you have.

Of course, there are many variables and solutions to this example, but you get the idea. An analogue-first approach typically presents with micro-problems that can be easily avoided by taking and storing patient notes digitally using a practice management system.

If you’re thinking that taking the time to migrate your written patient notes over to a practice management system is too much effort, you’re right, but it’s well worth it. Here’s our senior business coach Andrew Terry to explain:

“If you have a catalogue of written patient notes going back years, approach it in micro-doses. Block out 10-minutes of your working day and take a photo of the existing file and upload it to your practice management system.

The only physical data entry that’s important to import are the patient’s personal and contact information like their name, DOB, address, email, phone number etc. Taking the time to import this information means you’re able to search for and contact them easily without needing to write out all their treatment notes.”

Alright, so you’re coming around to the advantages of digital patient notes. Let’s expand on keeping in contact with existing patients and attracting new ones.

The power of digital marketing

It comes to no surprise that there’s incredible power behind digital marketing for osteopaths. While there are hundreds of digital marketing methods, we’ll skip right to arguably the most important digital marketing methods every osteopath should have.

Website + GBP + Google Ads

Your website is the heart of your digital marketing efforts because you’re able to compete on three fronts to gain the attention of potential new patients who search for keywords like ‘osteopath near me’, ‘osteopath [location]’, ‘[injury] treatment’ and more.

The best bit? Once everything is set up, you rarely have to update it to keep patients coming in. Leaving you to take care of everything else that comes with running an amazing practice.

WordPress website

Having a powerful website for your osteopathy business is a no-brainer investment because, beyond word-of-mouth referrals, it will be the biggest referrer of new patients to your clinic.

The biggest difference between the powerhouse of WordPress and other website builders like Wix and Squarespace is the ability to access everything that makes a powerful website, especially with all things search engine optimisation (SEO).

Learn everything you need to build your WordPress website or get Osteohustle to build it for you.

Google Business Profile

Once optimised, Google Business Profile (GBP) is the best free tool osteopaths can use to get patients because it’s easy to get started and boosts your chances of being seen for geographical-based search terms like “osteopath near me”. Once it’s set up and depending on your ranking, your GBP profile automatically shows up in relevant Google search results to potential patients on Google Maps.

Google Ads

When considering paid advertising, Google Ads provides the most bang for your buck as it’s pay-per-click. Let’s say your advert gets 1000 views in a month. If no one clicks on it, you don’t spend a penny.

Google Ads has a steep and sometimes expensive learning curve. So, build your revenue to a point where you’re able to invest $600AUD / £300GBP per month and hire a Google Ads Manager to take care of everything.

If you have a powerful SEO-fuelled WordPress website and pair it with an optimised Google Business Profile, integrating Google Ads is the cherry on top. So, don’t worry if you can’t afford this marketing method right away.

Now we’re cooking on gas! We’re making our admin lives easier with our practice management system and have a semi-automated way of getting new patients through the all-mighty Google. But how can we use technology to improve how your patients experience your clinic?

The patient experience

When osteopaths are told about the patient experience, our minds typically think of everything we do within our treatment room. However, the patient experience expands far beyond those walls.

Appointment confirmation and reminders

Book an appointment with a dentist, doctor, hair salons or many service-based businesses, and you’ll likely receive an appointment confirmation and reminder via email and maybe a text too.

Email and SMS communications are now a part of modern life, and people are starting to expect it. The chances are that you’ve already got at least an email system set up through your practice management system, but if you haven’t this is an easy way to immediately improve the patient experience. You can also begin to reduce those forgetful no-shows too!

Online booking

It goes without saying that online booking is an absolute must for all osteopathic clinics with a website.

From a people perspective, people love convenience. Online booking provides a frictionless experience for potential patients who land on your website. Whether it’s from their smartphone or desktop, patients want access to online booking.

From a practitioner perspective, online booking gives you more control over your available hours. Now we have no need to answer the phone in order to take appointments.

If for some reason you’re set in stone about not having a website, set up a Google Business Profile where you can include an appointments calendar link.

Finances

Beyond the ability to take card payments, osteopaths can use a digital practice management system to take care of your clinic’s financial needs. Say goodbye to confusing invoices or losing track of important payments and say hello to more time, money and control, all thanks to having a digital centre-point for your finance.

Take email invoicing for example. Of course you could email invoices, but it’s super time-consuming and stressful. The majority of practice management systems allow osteopaths to bulk email invoicing. In just a few clicks- job done!

If you’re like the majority of our coaching clients, your patients pay with card. So, it’s essential for you to have a secure online payment processes. The best solution is to use practice management software that integrates this function.

One side point about control. Facing your clinic finances can be intimidating and scary. But while your practice may not be in the financial shape you’re hoping for, knowing your numbers will help you to make smart business decisions, giving you the control you need. Working with a business coach can help you understand what the numbers mean and how to run a profitable practice.

Performance stats

Performance stats, otherwise known as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in the business world, tell you what’s going on in your practice so you know what’s working and what needs improving.

The best clinic practice management system will have KPIs dashboards, which admittedly look overwhelming to begin with. Get to know just a few key KPIs and you’ll not only feel like a numbers whizz, but vastly more in control over your practice.

Top Tip

Knowing the numbers behind your practice doesn’t mean you’re taking the heart out of your practice and should never be attached to cash incentives. Use KPIs as positive tool to coach, mentor and share your experience so everyone can grow and learn together. Your patients come out on top.

You can track KPI’s including:

Revenue

Revenue is what pays the bills. Track what the clinic brings in over all, go deeper by tracking revenue per practitioner.

Utilisation rate

Utilisation rate is a clear way to see how busy you are. We advise all our coaching clients that you want to be maintaining an 80-85% utilisation rate because it tells us that you are consistently busy. To ensure fairness between full-time and part-time practitioners, you should be measuring utilisation rate against the practitioner’s available hours.

Utilisation rate is the number of total available clinical hours divided by the number of treated hours used, then multiplied by 100 to give a percentage.

30 billed hours / 40 billable hours available x 100 = 75% utilisation rate

Rebooking rate

Take the pressure off yourself by monitoring your rebooking rate because, when it’s ethical and clinically relevant to do so, according to industry reports, it costs 5x more to attract a new patient than it does to keep the ones in front of you.

New patients

An important stat to track as it indicates that what you’re doing is working. From business to business relationships, marketing methods and even what you’re doing inside the treatment room, tracking the number of new patients is key if you’re looking to find out how and why new patients are coming to your practice.

Appointments booked

This one is easy. Review all appointments booked, as well as all other stats, every week.

No shows

At the end of the day, we need people to show up, otherwise our practice suffers as someone else could have booked that time with you. Use a high number of no shows as a chance to open a conversation with yourself about how we’re communicating, supporting, providing for our patients. There are many factors in play, so it’s key not to judge and discover where to improve.

Cancellations

Similar to no-shows, cancellations have a significant impact on osteopathic clinics. Again, a high number can be seen as an opportunity to start a constructive conversation.

Outstanding accounts

Put short, how much is overdue and how overdue is it. If you’re noticing more outstanding payments, it’s critical to chase up patients and make payment super simple.

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