One of the most useful courses NOT given in medical training is the business and marketing of a medical practice or private healthcare facility. While some are lucky enough to have a mentor, an older or more successful physician to show the ropes, most nearby physicians view a new doctor as competition. Mostly, one is left to figure everything out by trial and error.
This is why an article written by Dr. Giovino called â€œYou Should See My Doctorâ€: Cost-Effective Marketing Ideas for Your Practice was and is still so important, despite having been published in Family Practice Management nine years ago, in January 2002. (The principles still hold true.
Telling it like it is without mincing his words, Dr. Giovino states:
â€œMarketing is something of a dirty word among many physicians. Mention it, and they immediately picture that used-car salesman peddling his lemons on late-night television. True, thatâ€™s a form of marketing, but itâ€™s marketing gone wrong. Done right, marketing is not synonymous with trickery. Instead, it is nothing more than influencing choice by demonstrating the real value of a particular product or service â€“ in this case, health care.â€
Although the advice was aimed at Family Practice doctors, the marketing wisdom holds true for all specialties.
His key points are:
Â· Marketing isnâ€™t necessarily a dirty word; itâ€™s simply influencing choice by demonstrating the value of your services.
Â· The best way to begin your marketing efforts is by providing excellent care and service to your current patients.
Â· In competitive markets, physicians need to embrace the marketing methods of other industries and shouldnâ€™t be afraid to do so.
Donâ€™t miss an opportunity to send out the â€œhappy birthdayâ€ letter. Kindness to patients goes a long way. Along the same lines, donâ€™t miss out on sending the â€œwelcome to the practiceâ€ letter to stress the appreciation for coming to the office as a patient.
Another simple marketing tool is the appointment reminder. At the time of the visit, you can already be entering into the computer or patient list, when you want the next appointment to be scheduled.
Finally, maintain good relationships with other specialties within your area. They will be a good source of referrals.