7 Ways to Improve Patient Conversion from Inquiry to An Established Weight Loss Surgery Patient

Conversion rates for your weight loss surgery practice go beyond your marketing campaigns.  Your focus must also include efficiently converting qualified leads into new weight loss surgery patients. Fortunately, there are ways to simplify this process for your patients and your team.

Imagine attracting qualified patients, knowing exactly where they are in their process to becoming an established patient, improving patient and team satisfaction, while increasing your surgery caseload.  Yes, this is possible for any weight loss surgery practice – including yours. Best of all, you can do it without having to use any complicated Excel spreadsheets.

As you know, there are many steps a patient goes through from initial inquiry to their decision (and follow-through) to have weight loss surgery – with you.  Understandably, it can become very overwhelming for them and for your team.  This shows up in a variety of ways.

For the Patient:

  • Multiple inquiries
  • Various ‘starts and stops’ to the process
  • Confusion regarding their best option
  • Impatience (sometimes mis-directed anger) with the process
  • Lack of follow-through
  • Excuses as to why weight loss surgery won’t work for them even if they are an ideal candidate
  • Missed appointments
  • Misunderstandings regarding next steps, required education and fees
  • Cancelled surgeries
  • And more…

For Your Practice:

  • Overwhelming number of phone calls/e-mails/texts from patients
  • Difficulty tracking patient progress and getting everything required for approval in one place
  • Wasted time and energy
  • Confusion regarding how or lack of means to attain true conversion metrics
  • Cumbersome shared spreadsheets and reports that never seem to be up-to-date
  • Duplication of efforts due to lack of interoperability amongst multiple non-integrated software systems for marketing, tracking & documenting patient education and care coordination.
  • Unproductive time chasing telephone, text and e-mail communications with the patient
  • Less primary weight loss surgeries than expected/desired
  • Team burnout
  • And more…

It is time to tame the chaos and improve the patient flow process for your team and your patients.  While this doesn’t happen overnight, the benefits are well worth your strategic (and measurable) efforts.

However, before we address 7 strategies you and your team can implement to get started or fine tune, it’s important to address your patient conversion metrics.

Patient Conversion Metrics

Understandably, your patient conversion rate from inquiry to surgery is one of the most important metrics to track in your weight loss surgery practice.  However, it is often is one of the most misunderstood and poorly tracked metrics for many practitioners and their teams.

Your conversion rate quantifies potential bottlenecks that can occur throughout your patient process.  It is your window of opportunity for figuring out why patients are – or are not – following through so you can make appropriate course corrections and pathway improvements.

Understandably, not everyone is an ideal candidate for weight loss surgery and some may not have the insurance benefit and/or want to pay out of pocket for surgery.  However, if screened properly, these should contribute to a small percentage of your non-converting metric.

So, what is a good patient conversion rate for your weight loss surgery practice?  Honestly, you should not settle for a percentage less than 75%.  In fact, with a solid qualified patient acquisition method and an efficient system for patient conversion to surgery, a higher percentage is possible.

How to Improve Your Weight Loss Surgery Conversion Metrics

If you want to improve your weight loss surgery conversion metrics, below are 7 strategies that will positively influence your results.  These are essential for short- and long-term success.

  1. Get the Right Team on Board & Clearly Communicate Your Desired Outcome: The surgeon is a critically important part of your process.  However, it is your team that creates the initial and ongoing relationship that guides patients across the (sometimes intimidating) bridge from their first inquiry to initial consultation with the surgeon.  Your team contributes significantly to the ‘vibe’ in your practice that not only attracts patients but makes them feel sincerely valued and want to stay.  Your team also wants to do a good job.  In order to do so, they need to be aware of your specific surgical goals and be invited to participate (and lead) a streamlined process.  They need to help you reverse engineer what is necessary to get to your goal.  When included, they become a much more active participant and their efforts become more of a mission rather than a job.  This reverse engineering typically includes:
  2. Who is your specific ideal patient?
  3. What is your desired weight loss surgery volume?
  4. What is your current conversion rate?
  5. How many qualified leads do you need to meet this volume based on your current conversion rate?
  6. What are the strengths and weaknesses of your current patient acquisition and conversion process?
  7. What can/should be changed in your process to make your goal a reality?
  8. What is the plan to make this happen?
  9. Attract the Right Patients: It is impossible to attract the right (your ideal) patients if you don’t define this in the first place. The messages and advertisements you share should ‘speak to’ these people specifically, address their greatest frustrations, show how the transformation they desire is possible, and why you are the best option for care.  This relates to all types of online and offline communication such as your website, your social media, your blogs, your videos, your brochures, and your testimonials/reviews.
  10. Simplify the Patient Inquiry Process: The next step is helping people know the next (easy) step to move forward with you and your practice. Commonly called a ‘call to action’, you are giving them instructions such as ‘click here’, ‘ask questions here’, ‘watch this webinar’, ‘text us’, ‘contact us’, ‘join our challenge’, ‘download our free guide to weight loss surgery’ or similar.  Patients seeking weight loss surgery are researching all hours of the day and night.  You need to show up and have an easy way for them to contact you or access more information about you and what you offer.
  11. Personalize Your Prompt Follow-Up: We live in a world of immediate gratification. Healthcare consumerism has made this a desirable factor for patients as well that cannot be ignored.  Luckily, this is where you can combine your personality with technology so you, your website, your social media, your webinars, and customized follow-up messages are available 24/7/365 without overtime for your team.  Of course, reaching out personally is a desired and required action, but in this way patients are not delayed in finding out more about you and their next steps to becoming your established patient.
  12. Systematize Ongoing Patient Tracking & Communication: Particularly in the field of bariatric surgery, you tend to follow the same steps and say the same things over and over.  Fortunately, it has never been as easy as it is today to automate the process of tracking new patient leads, getting them started on their journey, engaging them in the process, informing them of their ‘to do’ list and next steps while continuously nurturing and educating them along the way.
  13. Leverage Technology for a Seamless (and Enjoyable) Process: Manual processes may work up to a caseload of about 150 surgeries/year but after that (and even with this caseload), automation will ensure a good patient flow and care coordination, less patients ‘falling through the cracks’, increased patient satisfaction, and an ability to grow your caseload.  It is best with one seamless system but integrations to a systematic patient flow system can fairly easily be integrated into your current EMR.
  14. Monitor Your Metrics: What you measure tends to improve.  This includes key performance indicators you assign to your team.  While you likely monitor metrics closely for billing/collections and budgeting, tracking your referrals and patient conversion metrics (among others) cannot be ignored.  No matter what size your practice is, metrics matter.

It is important to take proactive measures to ensure you can accurately track qualified leads from initial inquiry to weight loss surgery.  The strategies outlined here can help you significantly improve your conversion metrics and help you attain your weight loss surgery practice goals with greater predictability and peace of mind.

If you are looking for an all-in-one online (customizable) system that tracks everything in one place that you, your team and your patients will love, the ProNex, Inc. team can help.  For more information or to schedule a free practice assessment, click here.

About the Author: Karol Clark, MSN, RN, is a best-selling author who has a passion for helping physicians integrate effective, profitable weight loss services and retail sales into their practice while improving patient outcomes and enjoying the journey along the way. Her use of non-traditional (easy to implement) medical marketing strategies, along with her dedication to a positive ROI makes her a uniquely different and sought-after weight loss business consultant. Karol is the CEO of Weight Loss Practice Builder and the exclusive membership program for weight loss practitioners, www.BariatricBusinessAccelerator.com. She has more than 20 years of experience working with surgical and medical weight loss physicians and their teams helping them simplify creation of a profitable and enjoyable bariatric practice.