Insights on Healthcare Marketing

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. 

June 1, 2017

I often talk about the 4 A’s that I believe are the cornerstones of physician survival and success:  Access, Availability, Accountability and Accommodation. However, I believe there is a 5th A that is just as critical and perhaps the linchpin to the other four:  

Action

We can think and plan and develop and strategize and analyze, and all of those things are important. However, if at the end of the day, we don’t act on those ideas and do so in a timely manner, we miss opportunities — opportunities to meet, to connect, to communicate, to thank and to grow. Opportunities to forge new relationships and to strengthen existing ones.

Acting on the little things everyday — that is what makes the biggest difference.

May 24, 2017

Woody Allen has been quoted as saying, “80 percent of success is showing up.” 

And showing up means more than just your physical presence going through the motions of the day. It means being being accessible, listening, asking, understanding others’ needs, adapting, learning, improving, evaluating, thanking, and always making the human connection. 

In the technology-driven world we all live in, this is more important than ever before. And it applies to new and established practices alike. In fact, sometimes established practices need this reminder the most. We see it happen in business and sports all the time — successful companies and teams start to rest on their laurels. They begin to take their success for granted and stop “showing up.”  So,

May 24, 2017

Woody Allen has been quoted as saying, “80 percent of success is showing up.” 

And showing up means more than just your physical presence going through the motions of the day. It means being being accessible, listening, asking, understanding others’ needs, adapting, learning, improving, evaluating, thanking, and always making the human connection. 

In the technology-driven world we all live in, this is more important than ever before. And it applies to new and established practices alike. In fact, sometimes established practices need this reminder the most. We see it happen in business and sports all the time — successful companies and teams start to rest on their laurels. They begin to take their success for granted and stop “showing up.”  So,

May 17, 2017

Pens, cups and umbrellas with your logo are great, and these promotional gifts can support your marketing efforts. However, it is the simple gifts — your time, your listening ear, your returned phone call or text, your availability, your proactive communication, your heartfelt and unexpected “thank you” — that build relationships and make the real difference each and every time. 

To learn more about how to nurture relationships that will strengthen your medical practice, check out Andrea Eliscu's latest book, It's Personal: The Art of Building Your Practice

 

May 11, 2017

No doubt you have heard of or played the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. In it, players take turns linking anyone in Hollywood to Kevin Bacon through the roles those actors have played, and they do so within six steps/connections. 

So what does this have to do with your medical practice? Quite a bit actually.

May 4, 2017

A colleague of mine has a chronic health condition and was telling me about her most recent visit with her specialist the other day. I already knew my friend loved this doctor and has thrived under her care. She frequently shares stories of the quality of both the customer service and medical care provided at this practice. What touched my friend the most at this recent appointment though was a simple question the doctor asked at the end of the visit: 

“How is your mom doing?”

See, the doctor remembered my friend had shared at her last appointment how her mother had been going through some tough health issues. This simple question and the conversation that ensued was so genuine and heartfelt, that it endeared this physician to my friend even more. 

April 25, 2017

You know who they are. Or at least you should. And so should your staff.

They are your long-time customers. Depending on your practice, they could be patients or referring physicians or maybe even both. Frequently, they are “ambassadors” for your practice, raving about you in conversations or on social media, and referring their friends, family, neighbors and colleagues to you. 

Do you take them for granted?

Make sure you don’t. Recognize and thank them — in person, by phone, in a handwritten note — and do so frequently. Make sure it is personalized, meaningful and heartfelt. 

April 25, 2017

You know who they are. Or at least you should. And so should your staff.

They are your long-time customers. Depending on your practice, they could be patients or referring physicians or maybe even both. Frequently, they are “ambassadors” for your practice, raving about you in conversations or on social media, and referring their friends, family, neighbors and colleagues to you. 

Do you take them for granted?

Make sure you don’t. Recognize and thank them — in person, by phone, in a handwritten note — and do so frequently. Make sure it is personalized, meaningful and heartfelt. 

April 13, 2017

So you’ve crafted the perfect press release. Now what?

1. Know the right media outlet(s) and reporter(s).
2. Familiarize yourself with the reporter’s former work.
3. Customize your pitch based on the specific media outlet and address the reporter by name.
4. Be concise.
5. E-mail first. Call later to follow up.
6. Include your contact information and offer to assist.
7. Don’t pit media outlets against each other.
8. Make sure your story is relevant.
9. Provide advanced notice.

April 5, 2017

A news release or press release is a concise, compelling document designed to share your news story with targeted media. Here are eight tips to make your press release effective and help it stand out from the crowd:

1. Attract attention with a compelling headline.
2. Keep it brief and factual.
3. Write in third person.
4. Incorporate relevant background statistics.
5. Include quotes to add a human dimension and credibility.
6. Be sure to proofread.
7. Include any relevant links.
8. Don’t forget to include your direct contact information.

March 27, 2017

It is Marketing 101 that it costs 10 times as much to attract a new customer as to keep an existing one. Yet, I continue to see too many practices and organizations neglect their existing base as they put all of their focus and effort (and $$) into attracting new patients or customers.

My good friend and colleague Bob Kodzis cautions against taking the “short view” on relationships and instead focusing on “lifetime value.” Here are a few more reasons why this is important:

March 15, 2017

“Advertising is what you pay for; publicity (the result of public relations) is what you pray for.” 

So goes a common business saying.

Both can play a part in your marketing efforts, but it is important to understand how they are different. Here are four primary ways:

March 9, 2017

Your Web site is an extension of you and your practice. Think of it as a way to both attract customers and enhance the experience you provide them — patients, family members and referral sources alike. Here are a few basic building blocks:

1. Performance and Functionality — Make sure your site does what it should whenever and however it is accessed. It loads quickly and correctly. All buttons, tabs and links work properly. Any online forms are error-free and easy to use. And the site performs well on search engines.

March 1, 2017

One of the most powerful marketing tools for any medical practice is right under your nose — actually at your front desk, in and out of your exam rooms, and on your phones:  Your staff.
They probably spend as much if not more time with your patients than your physicians.

Engage them. 
Involve your team in diagnosing practice problems and developing solutions. Share practice news and solicit their input on marketing opportunities. Keep them informed of any marketing strategies or tactics you are implementing.  

February 21, 2017

The best way to build a medical practice is not an ad or even a great Web site (although your Web site is important). No, one of the quickest and most effective ways to build your practice is building and sustaining relationships with potential and current referral sources.

And while your staff can certainly help in this regard, to be truly effective, your individual physicians must put some skin in the game. Of course they should keep their referring physicians informed and take good care of their patients, but go a step further:

February 1, 2017

It is all too easy for established medical practices to settle into feelings of comfort, security and satisfaction. After all, you’ve done the careful, hard work of building your brand and the relationships that support it. It would be so nice to simply coast.

The problem is the world is constantly changing, especially in healthcare. What worked yesterday or even today may not meet the expectations for tomorrow. Patients are more discerning in their decisions. And competitors are looking to capitalize on your weaknesses as well as new opportunities you may have overlooked.

I like the Cambridge Dictionary definition of complacency:  “a feeling of calm satisfaction with your own abilities or situation that prevents you from trying harder”

January 25, 2017

“I just developed a greater appreciation for how much the human element matters and how much more you can achieve as a team when you have players who care about winning, who care about each other, develop those relationships, have those conversations. It creates an environment where the sum is greater than its parts.”Theo Epstein, General Manager, Chicago Cubs

I recently read this in a Sports Illustrated article about the Chicago Cubs general manager Theo Epstein and the culture he created with his World Series-wining team. The article talks about how his guiding principle is the character of the players he acquires even more than their skill and expertise.

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