Insights on Healthcare Marketing

March 14, 2018

Everyone wishes they had one. And at times, it seems as if some practices believe that an experienced, savvy marketing team has the tools to make marketing miracles happen for them.  

They don’t though. In fact, there is very little, if anything, your marketing team can do for you if your practice is not personally invested. And by that, I don’t just mean financially, I mean spending time, focus and energy. 

Because at the end of the day, truly successful marketing is about relationships and experiences. And while a good marketing professional can lay out a fantastic plan, help open doors, spark connections, and provide you with creative and compelling tools, the true power of success lies within you and your team. 

 
March 6, 2018

How does your practice welcome a new physician? Too often, I find new physicians are “baptized by fire,” immediately thrown into a busy practice after just a couple of days of “orientation.” They are provided policies and procedures, but do they have an opportunity to learn and embrace the culture of your practice? Do they fully understand expectations and accountability? Have you engaged them in practice marketing? Have you provided them the tools to market and grow their practice?

Here are a few tips to improve the on-boarding process:

February 15, 2018

To market or not to market? Sure it is a choice, and you can certainly choose not to make the investment, but at what cost? 

Too many practices wait to market until there is a specific problem or need — new patient visits are down, patients are leaving the practice, a new competitor has moved into the neighborhood, they lose a key insurance contract, satisfaction scores are suffering, etc. 

Successful, forward-thinking practices incorporate marketing into their everyday business, even if everything is going well, to stay ahead of the curve. They proactively and continually build and nurture relationships with their staff, patients, referral sources and community:

January 29, 2018

Too often in both my personal and professional business experiences, I see inflexibility — staff members who are so focused on the rules and procedures, that customer service suffers. 

Rather then bending just a tad to meet a customer’s needs (especially a loyal, long-time one), they will stand their ground, pointing to a policy or sign. I’m not talking about customers who take advantage of the system — I know they exist. These are customers who have a one-time need or request due to a special or unforeseen circumstance:

November 28, 2017

Whether it is moving or retiring, when a physician leaves your practice, it impacts patients. And often in a more personal way then you might realize.  

Patients, especially those who have been with your practice for many years, become attached to “their” physician and feel a true loss when he or she leaves. How you communicate this change, acknowledge their loss, and help them to smoothly transition their care to another provider can make the difference between retaining them in your practice and losing them to a competitor. 

Here are a few practical tips:

November 16, 2017

Too often I find that physicians and health care workers talk above or around their patients: 

November 6, 2017

False advertising. We all know what it is. It is when a company makes promises, and then the actual product or service falls far short of delivering on those promises. 

You can say you have expert physicians, deliver the best patient care, have the latest technology or provide the highest level of service, but if a patient comes for a visit and isn’t greeted warmly or is kept waiting too long or no one explains what they or doing or why, that negative experience will speak louder than any of your words.

Invest in showing your patients and community by:

October 26, 2017

What do your referring physicians really think about you and your practice? 

Have you ever asked? 

One of the first things we recommend when working with a new client is that they allow us to interview some of their referral sources — both their top referrers and a few who perhaps don’t refer as much as the practice would like them to. We ask the client to contact the referral sources first to seek permission and open the door for us to contact them. This approach allows us to have open conversations with these referring physicians, asking them about their experiences and opinions with the practice — the good, the bad and the ugly. And the result is honest feedback and recommendations that we can take back to our client to help them improve. 

October 18, 2017

In healthcare, we have worked hard in recent years to make patients feel more “connected,” whether it be patient portals, electronic health records or smart phone apps. All of these things can certainly enhance connection and the patient experience. However, they MUST be supported by human connections — by real relationships with you and your staff. A warm welcome, a nurturing visit, someone who remembers you and what is most important to you, an unexpected follow-up note or call. These are the personal connections that have always been and remain the heart of good healthcare.

October 11, 2017

If you were going to set out on a road trip, one of the first things you would probably do is plug the destination address into your phone or GPS to map out your route to get there.

Marketing works the same way. You can’t set out on the road, initiating strategies and creating content, without knowing:

1. Where you want to end up (your measurable goals)
2. How you are going to get there (your marketing plan)
3. Any obstacles that might get in your way 

And it is worth investing the time and effort to carefully research and chart your route. After all, the best trips (and most effective marketing campaigns) usually follow the road less traveled. 

September 19, 2017

There is a video clip that seems to circulate social media in recent years whenever there is a disaster — natural or manmade. It is an interview with beloved children’s TV pioneer Mister Rogers talking about how whenever there was something scary or catastrophic on the news when he was a child, his mother taught him to always look for the people who were helping and find strength and courage in them. 

September 6, 2017

One of the first exercises we do with every practice we work with is a SWOT analysis — looking at their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. We perform our own but then we also ask the practice — each physician, the administrator/office manager, and key staff members — to do so as well. 

A well-done SWOT is more than just a consulting tool. Done properly, it can be an invaluable opportunity to slow down, focus and evaluate. It requires that you look honestly and introspectively at what is working well and what needs attention. It also means taking time to focus on your competitors and how they are performing and differentiating themselves in your market. 

Let’s break down the key components:

August 28, 2017

We’ve all experienced it at some point — a genuine greeting that instantly brightens our day or puts us at ease. Earlier this week I walked into a new medical building in my community, and their “concierge” at the desk warmly welcomed me and personally directed me to where I needed to be. It felt good, and it made me feel good about coming there. 

Are your patients experiencing the same sort of greeting? 

August 10, 2017

Your employees are a direct extension of you and often have even more direct interaction and conversation with your patients than you do. At times, they are quite literally your right hand, your voice, and sometimes even your memory.

Are they happy? Do they feel appreciated?

Here are a few simple ways to reconnect with them:

August 4, 2017

What have you done for me lately? 

It is a trite statement, but one that rings true for many referring physicians if they don’t feel recognized and appreciated. 

Here are a few simple ways to reconnect with them:

July 26, 2017

It’s so easy to go through our work lives thinking no news is good news. If no one is complaining — patients, staff or referral sources — life must be good.

Yet, despite our increased “connection” through technology, we, as a society, tend to be more disconnected than ever before — in some cases this is actually because of technology. 

Rather than directly addressing conflicts or concerns with you, patients and referral sources may simply move on. And often, by the time a practice realizes that has occurred, it is too late — new relationships have already been established.

So how can you prevent this?  Reconnect.  

There are a lot of simple ways you can do this. Let’s start with patients:

June 30, 2017

It is the title of a current pop song, but it also rings true for our healthcare system.

We may be more “connected” then ever before thanks to technology and electronic health records, but we are having less human interaction and fewer genuine conversations. Yet, one-on-one interaction is key to developing and strengthening any successful relationship — personal or professional.

You can’t single handedly change the entire “system,” but you can take steps to initiate conversations within your own practice and community — among staff, among your partners, with patients, with your referral sources, and with your neighbors. Find out what is important to them. Solicit their ideas and feedback. And because very few do this anymore, people will take notice. 

June 21, 2017

This is probably one of the most common questions I hear from physician practices. No one likes to hear criticism or bad news, especially when it is broadcast on the Internet for all to see. 

While the temptation is to just delete the comment if possible, negative reviews can be relationship-building opportunities in disguise. They provide a platform to engage, to be human, to be transparent, to take accountability, to correct, and to repair.

So, how should you respond?

1. Acknowledge that you have heard the complaint.
2. Apologize for their experience.
3. Reinforce your commitment to patient care, safety and satisfaction.
4. Diffuse the situation and take the conversation offline by offering a contact person and phone # to call.

June 15, 2017

In my last post, I talked about how trust throughout society is dwindling, and trust of physicians and healthcare organizations are no exception. In general, consumers have become more skeptical of everyone and everything, including traditional marketing and advertising.

So who do people turn to when making purchasing decisions?  

In just about every sector, including healthcare, people are increasingly turning to their friends, family members, neighbors and colleagues for recommendations. This is because they trust their experiences and opinions. 

And thanks to social media, these opinions are more readily available. We even turn to the opinions of complete strangers who happen to share our life experiences, health challenges or purchasing decisions.  

June 8, 2017

Trust. It is the foundation of any sustainable relationship — personal or professional. 

In your medical practice, building trust — with patients, referring physicians, your own staff, and others in your community — has become more important and yet more difficult at the same time.

We live in an era of skepticism, amplified by social media and allegations of “fake news,” where people are finding it harder and harder to trust. Combine this with how rapidly the world of healthcare changes, and we have our work cut out for us. 

This makes each of your one-to-one relationships and interactions with patients and referral sources all the more important. 

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