Wellness businesses empower healthcare providers to turn patients into clients and customers.
Traditional healthcare professionals and complementary, alternative, and holistic (CAM) practitioners can use their passion for prevention of disease and infirmity to create successful businesses.
You can use your expertise and professional credibility to build a business free of the frustrations of managed care, with more financial upside and schedule flexibility than clinical practice.
Here are the key areas where making the shift from clinical practice to wellness services really play out:
1. Treat people like clients, not patients
- Quickly establish credibility and professionalism by outlining your overall approach.
- Actively listen to assess the client’s current knowledge and goals.
- Focus each visit on progress against those goals. Periodically review progress since the initial meeting.
- Recap each session, with next steps, for the client.
- Remember that clients and customers expect you to adapt to their needs, not vice-versa.
2. Recognize that programs are more profitable than ad-hoc services
- Clients often feel that they must navigate a “Chinese menu” of services to achieve wellness goals.
- For example, people who want to lose weight may meet separately with physicians, personal trainers, and dieticians. Then they have to integrate all that advice into a coherent plan. Not easy!
- Your business success in the non-clinical world ultimately derives from combining multiple modalities into a complete solution.
3. Hire staff who can leave customers in control
- Clients and customers expect a collaborative approach.
- Many find the directive approach encountered in traditional healthcare environments undesirable.
- They want to be fully informed and an active part of the decision-making process.
- They expect–and welcome–a collaborative approach based on identifying what’s important to them and working with them to developing useful plans to reach their goals.
- Active listening skills are key.
4. Embrace sales and marketing
- For professionals accustomed to clinical practice, the very thought of sales and marketing may seem unfamiliar, or perhaps unpleasant.
- Fortunately, there are many ways to market a business. You and your management team can develop a marketing plan tailored to your collective style and temperament.
- Successful wellness businesses undertake sales and marketing activities that many healthcare professionals probably have little experience with.
- Be sure you can answer these questions: 1) How will potential customers know that your business exists? 2) Since repeat customers are often the most profitable, how will you encourage customers to return again and again?
5. Apply best practices to running your business
- Focus on serving customers, not processing patients.
- To succeed, your business must have effective and efficient customer-friendly processes that work reliably, including scheduling and billing.
- A traditional clinic may get away with requiring patients to fill out forms on a clipboard on every visit.
- Customers, however, will challenge this inefficiency since other service-providers they routinely deal with have automated many of these processes.
- Select back-office staff for their business experience, not clinical experience, since in most wellness businesses, insurance reimbursement is no longer the primary focus of financial management.