One of the most common questions that we’ve heard from nurse practitioner entrepreneurs considering private practice is “How do I establish and grow a patient panel?” This challenge can bring your nurse practitioner entrepreneur ideas to a halt if you haven’t developed an effective patient acquisition strategy. Your nurse practitioner business plan should outline a multi-faceted approach to attracting and retaining patients. It is often inconvenient for patients to switch providers, so it is critical that you clearly communicate your unique value proposition and simplify the patient journey.
How to Grow as a Nurse Practitioner Business Owner
Nurse practitioner business planning includes many considerations, but a strong patient panel will make or break the success of your practice. Often NPs will start off by bringing in friends, family, or patients they’ve seen in previous care settings as the foundation of their patient panel, then will work to grow from there.
This helps to identify and work out any kinks in your first few visits with people who will likely be more patient and understanding than the typical patient. It also is a great way to begin gathering online reviews and referrals to establish more credibility as a new entrant to the market.
1. Insurance Credentialing and Payer Contracting for NPs
One of the primary things you can do to grow your patient panel is to get credentialed with payers and enroll in various contracts. According to the 2020 Census, 91.4% of people had health insurance coverage. By accepting federal and private insurance, you open your practice up to a significant portion of the population. We recommend evaluating the most common insurance programs in your area so that you can be accessible to serve the patients around you.
Accepting insurance does not rule out options for cash pay or concierge care models. Your practice can accept a variety of payments and fee structures. In fact, many NP practices have seen success in practice growth through this approach. Often, NP practices will start with cash-pay models while insurance credentialing and payer contracting are wrapping up.
For more on insurance credentialing for nurse practitioners, check out Credentialing Process for Nurse Practitioner: What You Need to Know .
2. Marketing for Nurse Practitioners
As you launch your independent nurse practitioner practice, you’ll need to launch a thoughtful marketing campaign as well. This should start with establishing your online presence by:
- Building a website
- Creating a Google My Business Profile
- Creating social media accounts
- Getting listed in healthcare directories
As is the case with nearly all industries, customers begin their journey online and it is imperative that patients in your area can easily find you. Marketing for nurse practitioners is no different. A well-crafted and informative website with patient scheduling capabilities is the keystone to your NP marketing efforts.
When you consider how to market your practice, you may determine that more traditional strategies like billboards, fliers, or commercials will resonate with your audience as well. It is important to consider all the marketing channels you wish to employ so that you can launch a campaign with consistent messaging that highlights you and your unique practice.
For more on NP practice marketing, check out Helping Patients Find You – Digital Marketing for the Nurse Practitioner .
3. Patient Convenience to Grow Your Patient Panel
There are many components of the patient experience that can be enhanced with convenience. More and more consumers across all industries, including healthcare, are demanding convenience. With the adoption of business practices like online ordering and delivery, these consumer expectations are only increasing. Your nurse practitioner business operations should take patient convenience into consideration.
Some ways to enhance convenience for patients are:
- Location – Have a convenient and accessible location for patients to visit
- Telehealth – Offer telehealth services for patients who are further away or don’t require in-person care
- Home Healthcare – Some NPs offer home healthcare services to care for patients with limited mobility or other health-related concerns
- Online Forms – Reduce wait times and patient headache by making patient forms available online
- Easy Appointment Scheduling – Make appointment scheduling convenient by offering online or phone call appointment scheduling options
- Attentive Patient Visits – Provide attentive patient visits so they feel valued and well-cared-for
4. Grow Your Referral Network
As a provider, you have your specialty, whether that be family practice, pediatric, psychiatric, women’s health, or any other specialty – and you have a specific set of skills. There is no shame in referring patients to other providers for care that is not within your training and expertise. In fact, building a referral network is a two-way street and can result in a high number of patients being referred to your care.
You’ll want to ensure that the patient transition from nurse practitioner to external provideror specialist is smooth for the patient and that you are sharing all relevant health information with the other provider(s).
Building your referral network, like building your patient panel, often starts with friends and family or other colleagues. Consider what providers in your area you would like to entrust with the care of your patients and begin establishing your referral network.
5. Strengthen Ties with Your Community
Similar to building your referral network, working to embed yourself into the community is a great way to make a name for yourself as a provider in the area. As you formulate your nurse practitioner entrepreneur ideas, consider what other businesses, schools, community centers, or religious groups you may want to connect with. Go to these organizations and share your unique nurse practitioner business model, why you believe it would be aligned with their values, and how your services can benefit them and their communities.
Some examples of this could be:
- A psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner connecting with a local yoga studio to discuss alignment on mental wellness
- A pediatric nurse practitioner leaving fliers at a local childcare center announcing the opening of their practice
- A family nurse practitioner sponsoring a local baseball team, promoting their sports physical and family care services
- A women’s health nurse practitioner connecting with a local women’s shelter and providing on-site care and wellness classes
Whether you’ve already opened your practice or are still in the planning stages, patient satisfaction drives your long-term success. After all, what good is patient panel growth if they leave your care after a year? In business, there is a term called Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) which looks at the long-term benefits of a customer. For example, Ford doesn’t just want you to buy one vehicle from them and then move on; they want every car you buy for the rest of your life to be a Ford. With patients, you want the same thing. Winning over a patient once is great, but true success comes when they, and their family and friends, choose you as their primary provider for life.
In healthcare, this customer lifetime value is two-fold. There’s the long-term value in them as patients for your practice, paying for your services as often as needed. But for patients, there is an additional layer to customer lifetime value. By seeing the same provider long-term, a provider who truly knows them, their health, and their history, patients are bound to receive better care – thus increasing your value as a provider.
Help With Growing Your Patient Panel
The team at NP Advantage is uniquely equipped to assist entrepreneurial NPs in establishing and growing their patient panel. Our long history of healthcare consulting and practice marketing positions our team as a highly qualified partner in getting your practice up and running – and then growing. Our solution is centered around creating a private practice experience that is convenient for both you and your patients, so that we can advance your practice and the nursing profession together.