All Roads Lead to Rome

What You May Not Know About Rome

The expression “all roads lead to Rome” is extremely well known. And, as such, most of my readers are well aware that at the peak of the Roman Empire it was a fairly accurate statement. Perhaps a few of you are not aware that Rome had over 55,000 miles of paved roadways after over 700 years of road building. The city of Rome was the heart of the empire and Rome was truly a city of inroads.

The Goal When Performing Inroad Analysis

Inroads analysis is a simple and useful tool that should be employed by the owner of every health care practice. It is remarkably simple and easy to do yet it provides an interesting and valuable perspective on how patients access and see your practice. The goal when performing an inroads analysis is to identify all the ways that patients identify and connect with your practice followed by a focus on improving those paths in. The main benefit I see when putting clients through this type of assessment is the identification of inroads that are not being effectively managed or optimized. It also identifies marketing channel opportunities

How Did You Hear About Us

The analysis is very simple to perform. The key to successful inroads analysis is using staff members and current patients to help you identify all the inroads including those that you may be currently overlooking. My personal bias is to have the practice owner and/or manager and at least two well tenured employees analyze the ports of entry independently. Then have the person in charge of the project collect and combine all the separate analyses to create a single internal assessment. The best way to get patient input is to ask on the intake form the question “how did you hear about our practice” and include a fill in for an “other” option. Or you could just ask them. Like anybody does that anymore. But I digress…

Some common inroads include:

• The main physical patient entrance in the office space (aka, the door)
• Any secondary physical entrances also used on a somewhat regular basis by patients
• Insurer/VDP provider listings
• Each individual phone line ever used by patients
• The fax line
• All e-mail addresses
• The practice website
• Links to the practice website or other communication info from other websites
• Each mailing address used by patients

Make A Point To Review The Inroads List Annually

The initial “complete” listing is just a starting point. Over time some will be eliminated and others will be added/discovered. Make a point to review the inroads list annually. It will also become evident that the depth of each inroad can expanded upon and over time this will add useful information to the exercise.

Creating the list is the easy part, of course. The next step is to rank the list by order of importance.  The most important element of “importance” is frequency of use. Finally, take the most important inroad and maximize its impact on creating an exceptional patient experience. Don’t overlook anything, such as:

  • How does the front door look? Does it stand out in a positive way? How identifiable is the practice by just looking at the front door?
  • How does the person sound that answers the phone? How much of an advocate are they for the practice?  How often are patients directed to voicemail? What is in the voicemail message?  Is there an annoying phone tree?
  • What does the e-mail address bring to mind? Is it memorable? Is it too long?
  • How easy is the practice website to find? Is it attractive?  Is it informative? Is it professional?
  • What do those long forgotten but not deleted social media accounts look like when people stumble across them? What does that ignored Instagram account that was last posted to in 2011 say about you?

Focusing on the details of patient inroads will create a lasting and positive impact. It forces you to view the practice from the patients’ perspective, which is, after all, the most important perspective.

Maidir te,
John McDaniel, OD, MLHR


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