4 Easy Ways to Grow Your Patient Panel as a Nurse Practitioner

Most of you don't know my husband, but if you were to meet him, the first thing you would probably notice about him (besides his amazing good looks and shining personality, of course!) is his hair. Complete strangers on the street have been known to stop him and compliment his mane of curly, reddish locks that rapidly grow taller and taller between haircuts. With a head of unruly hair, and the stubbornness of a guy who refuses to pay more than 15 bucks for a haircut or book an appointment in advance, he's had his fair share of tragic visits to the salon. 

Recently, however, he got a great cut at a reasonable price. Upon arriving home, I immediately noticed and complimented the change. "I have a stylist now", he informed me matter of factly, placing her business card on the table. "Oh, really? What happened to swinging into whatever random place is open at the last minute?" I inquired, curious about the change. "At the end of the cut, she asked for my business", he filled me in. Just like that, my husband slash hair stylist wanderer committed his hair care to Megan, impressed by her simple ask.

You may not realize it, but in the same way, as a nurse practitioner, a big part of your career is sales. Building and maintaining a panel of patients that trust you and who routinely seek out your care over other that of other providers is how you get paid. Even if you do not own your own practice, your employer is relying on you for these activities. So, aside from providing an excellent patient experience, how can you grow your nurse practitioner practice?

1. Solidify the Patient-Provider Relationship

Along the same lines as my husband's hair stylist, let patients know you want to be their [insert specialty here] provider and would like their business. Patients will be flattered that you care enough to be interested in maintaining a long term patient-provider relationship. This may feel awkward at first, but it's effective. 

2. Ask Current Patients to Help

There's nothing wring with letting your devoted patients know that you're looking to grow your business. If your visit schedule is looking slim, let your favorite patients you are currently accepting new patients. Ask them to inform friends or family members who might be in need of a medical provider. As an added bonus, it's likely that you will get along well with the friends and family members of patients you enjoy interacting with most. 

3. Build Your Professional Network

Patients often rely on several medical providers. Primary care physicians and NPs refer to specialists. Specialists refer patients to primary care providers. Network within your healthcare community letting other providers know you are looking to build your practice. Join and attend events held by local healthcare organizations. You may even consider stopping by medical practices that may be able to help, business card in hand, and introducing yourself. 

4. Look Legit

There are a few basics essential to effectively marketing your practice. A company website (if your practice does not already have one) and company Facebook page will serve as valuable resources for patients considering a visit. Post material your patients may find interesting. Make sure to indicate that you are welcoming new patients. Including a brief bio and headshot of yourself is also helpful. Traffic to these sites may not be significant, but having online resources boosts your credibility and helps prospective patients know what you're all about before booking an appointment. 

5. Market Yourself

Building your patient panel, whether you are a practice owner or an employee, involves putting yourself out there. Consider attending local events such as races and other community gatherings. Purchase a booth and offer materials educating the community about your practice. This helps get the word out about your availability and is much less expensive than larger marketing campaigns such as TV ads and printed publications. 

6. Excel!

Hands-down, the best way to attract more patients to your practice is to provide excellent customer service to those you already have. Naturally, satisfied patients will convey their experience to friends and family members sending new patients your way. Ask established patients for feedback about your practice. Take note of comments you receive. Send 'Thank You' notes to new patients. Thank returning visitors for their business. A little acknowledgement goes a long way.

What strategies have you used to grow your patient panel?