When you are first starting out business and funds are tight, the last thing you want to do is shell out money for software, marketing, and other outsourced tasks. Completely understandable! However, these are the five tools that you should be using if you want to grow your business effectively and save yourself time. Good news is I have kept the list respective to your small business budget.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software. There are many options out there. You can purchase a system or use a cloud based program. CRMs are great tools because they maintain a single database of all your clients and prospects. Some CRMs also provide additional tools for marketing and reporting that will show you areas to improve and areas you are most effective. Even better is that many of these CRMs have the ability to integrate into your electronic medical record (EMR) system and your payroll or accounting software. Here are a few suggestions:
Reservio Handles all your scheduling (online and in person), marketing, integration with social media, internal communication, and reporting. Priced Free to $40 per month depending on the plan.
MindBody This system was designed for yoga studios, but works very well for healthcare providers too. Has all the bells and whistles of online scheduling, email and text communication, marketing, staff time tracking, inventory management and more. Plans start at $30 per month, but it is well worth it.
ZohoCRM Zoho offers so many tools to the small business owner and it is all free up to 10 users. The list is actually so long, you will need to check it out and see for yourself. Integrates with your social media, website, and google calendars!
Electronic Medical Records (EMR). Many providers start out with paper charts because, well, it works and is cheap. However there are great options available that allow you to access files from anywhere without the stacks of paper. Each of these options are HIPAA compliant and inexpensive:
Charm With Charm you get EMR, patient engagement portal, practice management tools, patient and insurance billing, and revenue cycle management. If you are just starting out, you can do so for free.
Google Docs HIPAA Compliant Yes, Google Drive or Google Docs has a HIPAA compliant system that allows your to scan and store your records online. Although it is free, it is also primitive. There is no practice management availability so you would have to manually create patient charts and store patient records in the appropriate chart. This option also doesn’t offer any of the additional tools that you will want, but it works and many providers use it.
PracticeFusion Inclusive of everything you could need for charting, retaining records, and patient billing - and at no cost.
Social Media Management. Social media is a must for the small private practice however the time it takes to generate content and post on multiple sites is exhausting. Thankfully there are great tools that recommend content, help you generate original content, take care of advertising, schedules posting in advance, and posts across multiple platforms. Now it will only take minutes to set up your social media for the entire week. Here are some great options for social media management:
HootSuite By far the most popular social media management tool! You can incorporate up to 50 different profiles to manage, all from one platform. Better still, it only costs $10 per month. Well worth it.
Buffer Allows up to 10 different social media platforms and can schedule up to 100 future posts. Easy to use and easy on the budget at $10 per month.
Payment Processing. You want to be able to collect payments easily. Your CRM may have a payment processing feature that you can use, but if you are looking for ease and low fees, feel free to go with Square. It also comes in handy if you do a lot of selling of products or packages off site.
Marketing. When you are looking for patients and customers, you need to get busy marketing. Join a professional group in your area on Meetup or ITaketheLead. Becoming an active member of your local chamber or BNI also helps tremendously. If you need materials such as postcards, brochures, and flyers - sure you can try to print these on your own, but why when you can have someone else do it better and inexpensively? You should always try to support local businesses when possible, so go to your local printer and see what they can do for you. If that is not an option, there are always sites like VistaPrint and Zazzle that can hook you up with some great templates for little cost.
Once you have these time saving tools in place, you will be able to spend more time focusing on other areas of your business. Good luck!
April Salsbury, MBA is a strategist, an analyst, an operational guru, a recognized leader and C-suite global healthcare executive with drive and focus for competitive markets. Co-host of The Business Forum Show and regular contributor to various business journals, she possess multi-functional and multi-national competencies with more than 15 years experience in business and healthcare. Her expertise is in invigorating revenue growth and infusing value of lean practices in growing companies through improvements to cash flow and operations management.
Fueling revenue, growth and profit, Salsbury & Co. is a consultancy firm focused on helping businesses and healthcare organizations achieve excellency. Our specialists have executive experience combined with deep functional expertise to provide our clients with services that drive real impact and results.
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