Did you know the fastest growing demographic in the U.S. is senior citizens? According to the U.S. Census, the number of people age 65 and over grew from 35 million in 2000 to 49.2 million in 2016. Baby Boomers have made this segment of the population one that we at the Institute of Podiatric Excellence and Development (IPED) feel podiatrists need to be paying special attention to.
At IPED, we bring together podiatric professionals at all stages of their careers. This results in a great clearinghouse of information and ideas that benefit all our members. Below are some successful ways to attract and keep senior patients.
Cultivate Relationships with Both Medical and Non-Medical Sources—dedicate time or, better yet, a staff person to forming and growing relationships with other physicians in close proximity to your practice. Cardiologists, orthopedists and other physicians all see senior patients who also need podiatric care. Share information about your practice, about innovative advances in the field and about common foot ailments that affect senior citizens. Attach your contact information and follow up regularly with the staff at these practices. There is also an endless supply of non-medical sources for referrals for senior patients such as shoe stores, nail salons and pharmacies. Get your name known and associated with geriatric foot care issues to increase the number of referrals you receive.
Make Your Office Accessible—consider the physical layout and accessibility of your office. Is coming to your office an ordeal for someone in a wheelchair or who has a cane or walker? What is the path a patient takes from reception to check out and is there any way to cut the number of steps needed to complete the path?
Go Where the Patients Are—offer to give presentations at senior centers, churches and synagogues on topics of interest to seniors: diabetic foot care, custom orthotics, arthritis and joint disease, etc. Allow time for questions and answers and spend some time talking with guests individually. People will remember a compassionate and approachable physician when the need arises.
Understand the Caregiver Relationship—caregivers can be an asset or a detriment when treating elderly patients. It takes time and observation to determine the relationship between a patient and caregiver and to use that relationship for the maximum benefit of the patient. Often the caregiver will be the one that ensures a regular care regimen is followed.
If you’re interested in learning how membership in IPED can help you improve patient outcomes, increase the success of your practice and help you balance professional and personal satisfaction contact our Executive Director, Ruth Ann Donahue by calling: 978-296-7634.