“Marketing” the physicians who are affiliated with a hospital or medical center is a sensible strategy as part of a comprehensive market growth program.
But it’s not a simple process and there are some intervening variables that are different than marketing hospital services or the entire medical center. When hospitals began using direct-to-consumer advertising in the 70s, many physicians initially expressed discomfort with directly promoting them or their practices. Attitudes have evolved, and there is much greater acceptance today, but every market, every specialty and every physician can be different, so some key upfront steps can ensure your efforts will be welcomed.
Some upfront research on how consumers are now seeking and getting information on physicians – and how they would like to get information – lays a good foundation for acceptance of and development of physician marketing efforts. Knowing how your consumers in your market get information and make decisions helps make strategic decisions.The four key R’s – Research on your market and what consumers want, Relationships with other physicians, Referral streams from other health professionals and facilities, and Recommendations from current patients – create a strong foundation for additional promotion.Click To Tweet
A conversation with a broad-based group of your physicians about their comfort levels, and what their peers in the market and their specialty find acceptable will help avoid any missteps. Some specialties have long been heavy into DTC promotion, while others are much more conservative. And you will find differences in what primary care doctors are comfortable with, versus specialists.
Some tried and still true tactics, such as introducing new specialists to the PCPs in the community to start building relationships, should be the foundation of marketing. Referral streams are doctor-to-doctor AND other streams, depending on the physicians’ specialty, can include urgent care centers, allied health professionals, outpatient and long-term care facilities. Physicians who extend themselves, build relationships and are responsive to their peers often find that this builds the core of their practice.
If your research shows that friends/family/colleague word-of-mouth endorsements play a role in physician selection, then a service standards/patient satisfaction audit can help identify areas where your physicians can improve and thus enhance the endorsements from their existing patients. Hearing “Oh we love our internist and her practice and office” from a co-worker can often be all a newcomer needs to make a call for an appointment.
There are many more promotional techniques – from doing media interviews on breaking medical news, to being featured in hospital publications and websites, to presentations and drop-in patient chats promoted by the hospital or at a long-term care facility – that can be effective.
The four key R’s – Research on your market and what consumers want, Relationships with other physicians, Referral streams from other health professionals and facilities, and Recommendations from current patients – create a strong foundation for additional promotion.
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