Increase your revenue with database mining
By Shana Chapman, Senior Practice Services Specialist
A new year is on the horizon, which means it’s time to start thinking of creative ways to increase your revenue stream. In the hearing industry, practices are always looking for insightful ways to gain more patients in addition to retaining the ones they currently have. This is where database mining comes into consideration.
Communicating using your database
Communicating with patients in your database is important in order to keep your practice and services top-of-mind to your patients. It is recommended that you reach out to them at least 4-6 times a year. Note that your patients should not go more than 6 months without hearing from you, in some fashion.
There are several reasons to reach out to current patients:
- New technology
- Annual exam
- Cleaning and checks
- Hearing protection
- Telehealth offerings
- Practice surveys
Keeping a clean database
Database “housekeeping” should be performed every 6 to 12 months as a best practice. The housekeeping helps update pertinent patient information and to remove patients who have recently relocated or maybe passed away. This allows your practice to collect email addresses, add new insurance information and any other pertinent information you want collected.
By performing these activities, this will help a practice gain a significant amount of revenue throughout the year and makes current patients feel confident that the practice is there throughout their hearing journey. This process is very easy to adopt and incorporate as part of a regular marketing routine while being cost-effective at the same time.
This process can be done in a few ways depending on how you would like to approach it and the size of your database. If you have paper files, the easiest way is to physically pull patient files and have a color-coded marking system, to identify tested not treated, hearing aids that are 4, 5 years old, annual testing and any other category determined for recall.
If you have transitioned to electronic files, the office management system should allow patient files based on the criteria you put in as a filter. This procedure gives you the chance to look at all the paperwork in the file and the opportunity to organize/update as well. The most common things to look for in order of importance are:
- Last appointment with the office and outcome notes
- Date of last annual hearing exam
- Age of hearing aids
- Did the patient have an insurance benefit?
- Tested not treated patients
Where to begin?
If you have patients whose last hearing exam was over a year ago, that is a good starting point. Your front office team can reach out with a simple phone call or even a letter, if they are unreachable by phone, asking them to schedule their annual exam. This will not only remind them to take care of their hearing health but allows you to re-cultivate the relationship with the patient.
The second area to focus on would be the age of your patients’ hearing aids. We know that patients tend to upgrade their devices between 3-5 years from original purchase date. This gives you the opportunity at each annual exam appointment to point out the developments in new technology, so the seed is planted in their mind.
If you have patients within your database whose hearing aids are within this age range and have not been seen on a consistent basis, this is the time to pull them forward and get into contact with them.
When dealing with patients who have insurance benefits for hearing devices, time is of the essence. It’s very useful to flag the patients who had insurance coverage as someone who should be reached out to on a frequent basis. This process also makes it easier when doing database mining, because they should be at the top of the list for potential upgrades when their benefits renew. Understanding how their policy works as well as the frequency of the benefit itself are two key factors when considering this for database mining.
Other ‘patients’ to consider
We have all had patients who came in for testing, recommended devices but unfortunately did not move forward. The same applies for patients who might have had a slight loss but not yet on the verge of needing hearing aids as well as “tested no loss.”
When performing database mining, it is important to include these populations of patients in your database. By calling or sending a letter to encourage scheduling an annual exam, this is a way to let them know that their hearing health is still important to you as well as them. There are a significant number of patients who have a loss and failed to do anything about it and realize they still are struggling. A simple touchpoint from a practice is the push prospective patients need to finally do something about their hearing.
Database mining is an essential, cost-effective and excellent way to increase your revenue. It also garners patient loyalty and opens the door for patient referrals. A person is more likely to refer a friend or family member to a business who puts forth a valiant effort to stay in touch. If this process is put into action with your practice, you will quickly begin to see the benefits that it brings.
Shana Chapman is Senior Practice Services Specialist for the Phonak Inner Circle team. Previously, she was a Patient Care Coordinator/Medical Biller in the hearing industry for 10 years, and attended Northern Illinois University. Her favorite sound is her niece and nephew’s giggles.