Physicians are wonderful at healing their patients and improving the quality of their lives. But what about the health of the physician practice itself? How are they recruiting patients and marketing their services? Are they dependent solely on other physician referrals or are physicians proactive and take an active role in the marketing and reputation management of their practice?
Be Transparent and Detailed
Smaller practice physician groups typically don’t set aside much budget for marketing so they should be strategic about their recruitment efforts. Developing a FAQ document on your website can be an excellent practice recruitment tool. Providing all the appropriate details about your practice to patients leads them to know what they are signing up for when getting care from you. They are more apt to stay with you if they know what they are getting into.
Your Brand Depends on the Patient Experience
Though many physicians rely on reputation, professional referrals, and hospital affiliation to attract new patients, often times, patients are referred via word-of-mouth. Still others are chosen based on geography or listings in their insurance provider directory.
Healthcare practices don’t generally dwell on branding, but they should. Your brand is the first step towards getting patients to notice you. Branding is beginning of the emotional connection that patients develop with your practice. What is unique about your practice and how you treat patients? Do you follow a specific roadmap or strategy representing the patient experience? How do you and your office and nursing staff interact with your patients during their time of need and follow-through — from their front office introduction to the exam room, to their back-office experience.
Make a positive lasting impression in the minds of your patients. If they felt cared for and secure, they’re going to come back – and so will their friends.
How can you accomplish this? By making a memorable impact on them throughout the entire patient journey: Consider the first phone call requesting an appointment and the way they are greeted at the front desk. Are they handled with respect? Are they put on hold and forgotten? When patients walk into a doctor’s office for the first time, they take mental notes about what sets your office apart from others. How long do they wait before gaining access to the exam room? How long is their wait once inside the exam room? How much time does the doctor spend with them? Are they actively listening to the patient and asking enough questions of the patient to diagnose a condition? If you’re referring them to a specialist or for a test, will the referral go immediately, or will the patient have to follow up with you because they couldn’t schedule that appointment due to lack of paperwork and follow-up from your office? Did you personally follow up with a phone call to ensure your patient was following instructions and feeling better after their visit?
Listen to Your Patients
Listen to the feedback of your current patients. Patients’ testimonials are a key indicator of how your practice is perceived by new patients. Checkup (pun intended) on social media platforms and listen to what they’re saying – the good and the bad. As a patient, I personally review HealthGrades, Google and Facebook to check the credentials of a physician and review patient experiences. If a patient leaves a good review, thank them within 24 hours of the post. Conversely, if a patient isn’t happy with their experience, thank them for their feedback and respond with a meaningful and sincere effort to improve your service. Your reputation management is just as important as the accolades and is critical to the success of your brand.
Isn’t a White Coat the same as every other White Coat? – Differentiate Your Practice!
Does your Practice have a marketing strategy? How do you stand out from your competitors? Are you actively using social media, SEO, and paid searches? Is your website easy to use and responsive for mobile devices? Do you publish articles, blogs or send out wellness newsletters to your patients?
The biggest challenge in managing an online presence is being consistent with your content marketing efforts. If you want people to follow your practice then make sure you are posting content that is meaningful, engaging and captivating and relevant on a regularly scheduled basis.
Consider using promotional products that help align your branding strategy with your marketing message. Offer little pedometers, calendar magnets, pens or small first aid kits, thermometers, and heart-shaped stress balls with your logo on it. Patients love getting little gifts and freebies.
I once represented a 500+ physician IPA with over 55 sub-specialties. They were looking for a creative yet straightforward way to promote their coordinated care approach and recruit new patients. The physicians were wary of spending any money without a solid plan. I pitched an integrated marketing plan that included both artfully crafted video stories and interviews from both the physicians’ and the patients’ perspectives, along with strategic media support including OOH, digital and print ads, movie theater ads, direct mail, and a retargeting campaign. This intricately woven campaign generated over a 50% increase in patient enrollment within 6 months, and on-going brand recognition.
Whatever your budget or size of your practice, a solid brand marketing strategy that tells your story, illustrates your patient experience, and builds your positive reputation can be done.
Consider reaching out to me for a chat and a proposal.
About Lisa Silverman: Silverman is principal of Brand-Device, LLC. As a senior account director, branding and content strategist for over 30 years, Silverman has stewarded regional and global brands with an unparalleled skill set and a proven record of success in team leadership, driving growth strategy, executing marketing communication plans and creating billions of dollars in ROI for healthcare and financial clients.
About Brand Device, LLC: Brand Device merges intelligent, strategic branding solutions with powerful, imaginative, and interactive creative driven by a team of leading healthcare marketing veterans with a rich history in promoting medical devices, hospital products, nutrition, health institutions, pharmaceuticals, direct-to-patient and physician practices.