From time to time, I often reflect on my 25+ years of advising physicians about how to market their practices. And lately, I believe the old adage, “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” is ringing true. Sure, healthcare has changed a lot since the 1980’s, and those of you who work in the front lines of practicing medicine or managing a healthcare practice or organization live these changes everyday, from increased government regulations to lower reimbursements to explosions in technology. Never mind healthcare reform and the impact it may have. And while things are certainly different now than they were two or three decades ago or even two or three weeks ago, I believe you can find some comfort and reassurance in realizing that the three fundamentals of successful medical marketing remain the same:
- Practice quality medicine.
- Develop a brand-name identity.
- Focus on patient/customer service.
What HAS changed tremendously is the role #3 — serving patients — plays. We have evolved from a physician-directed model to a patient-driven one. More informed and more inclined to take control of their own healthcare, especially as they increasingly carry more of the financial burden, patients have become “pro-sumers.” They are proactive before consuming. They read, research, talk, surf and even chat online to gather information before making decisions, including those about their healthcare. So, practicing medicine today means viewing a patient not just as someone who is ill and needs your help, but as a true consumer making a purchasing decision. That decision just happens to be related to the health and well-being of themselves or a loved one. And as the most successful businesses in other industries already know, the customer should always be your number one priority. As I start this new blog, my goal is to engage in conversation, encourage others in the trenches of medicine today, stimulate thought, and hopefully, spark some ideas. I hope you will join me on this journey.