Insights on Healthcare Marketing

Strengthening Referral Relationships: Step Two

Divide and conquer.

So you’ve built the infrastructure to capture and track referrals.  What next?   

 Stratify your referring physicians into three groups:

  • Top Referrers – These are your most loyal.
  • Somewhat Regular Referrers
  • Low Referrers -- In this group, you need to determine if there are any who should be referring more and create a list of who to target.

Now you’re getting closer.

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Strengthening Referral Relationships: Step One

Build your infrastructure. 

You know you need to forge stronger relationships with your referring physicians but where and how do you start?  There’s an old saying you don’t know what you don’t know.  So be strategic and find out: 

  • Develop a monthly report that tracks referrals by source. 
  • Capture e-mail addresses for both physicians and referral coordinators.
  • Create a 90-day trend report.
  • Respond immediately to dips.

Without this foundation, you will never really know the impact of your efforts.

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Social Media: It Can’t Be All About You

It’s easy to tell your own story. You know it by heart. It’s much more powerful and effective to let others do it for you. That has always been the power of public relations, and it is one of the true gems of social media. It’s the classic comparison of an ad vs. a media story or more simply put, the loudspeaker vs. the grapevine. Which do you listen to? Which holds more credibility in your mind? Make sure your social media videos and messages aren’t just about you sharing your message (the loudspeaker). Instead, invite your patients, your staff, clinical leaders, partners and others to share their personal experiences and endorse what you do. It may take a bit more time and effort on the front end, but the results will be well worth it in the end.

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Social Media Doesn’t Have to Cost an Arm and a Leg

Sure, like most things in this world, social media isn’t free.  However, the beauty of it is you don’t need a huge budget to be successful.  You can always hire a professional to do it for you, and many do a fantastic job.  However, with all the software and services applications currently available on the Web, you can easily do some things yourself.  Want to start a blog?  Check out Wordpress (I use it for this blog.).  Looking for Facebook applications?  Check out Appbistro.  These are just two of many tools out there that can help you stretch that too often shrinking marketing dollar.

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Social Media and Search: Connect the Dots

Yes, social marketing and search marketing are two different things.  However, they increasingly influence each other.  If you treat them separately and have two different teams that work on them in their individual silos, you are making a major marketing mistake. Did you know that the more followers you have and the more updates you make to your blog, the more credible you become to search engines?  Choose the right keywords in your updates, and you’ll rank higher than your competitors in searches on the most valuable terms.  Do a really good job, and you just may insert yourself into results when your competitor makes news.  Now that is the power of connecting social media and search.

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More Than Just Hype: Social Media Works for Medical Practices

Too often, I hear that social media is just for retailers and “traditional” consumer product companies.  I disagree.  If executed correctly, social media can work for almost every type of business, including medicine.  Sure, major consumer brands were some of the first to embrace it, and many healthcare marketers still question its value.  However, social media deserves a seat at your marketing table, especially if you want to strengthen and grow your patient base.  Generating referrals has always required multiple touches or what I like to call layering.  And you never know which “touch” is going to be the final nudge that generates a referral.

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Social Media: How Do You Measure Up?

From Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn to YouTube, social media has become the marketing darling with more and more companies establishing their presence on these sites whether it be for brand building, providing basic location information, enhancing patient/customer support, promoting an event or connecting with patients and referring physicians in a new way. But how do you know if it is working for you? Measuring success means more than just generating “buzz” and measuring traffic. When you are ready to venture into the social media world, know specifically what you want to achieve and then before you jump in, be sure you have a plan for how you will measure those results.

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Dare to Delight

In the world of healthcare, too much is the same.  The experience at one medical office is too often the same as at another.  And among those experiences, there are certainly too many negative ones. Problem is, thanks to today’s technology, these negative stories are instantly amplified on social media sites and the Web.  The good news:  standing out from the pack and generating good “buzz” doesn’t have to cost a ton of time or resources.  It is often the little things that can separate you and get folks talking: 

Smile.

Engage.

Answer the phone cheerfully. 

Return calls promptly.

Write a heartfelt thank you. 

Remember a tidbit about someone’s life or family and ask them about it.

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A Confidence Booster: Healthcare Away From Home

I am spending the holidays at my farm in Wisconsin.  The second day here, I broke out in an itchy rash unrelieved by Benadryl.  Fortunately, I was able to make an appointment as a new patient with a primary care practice in our little town.  Yes, I had to fill out the paperwork of 2010.  Yes, everything was done on computer rather than a paper chart. Happily, it was a wonderful appointment with caring, interest, discussion and engagement.  All in all, a great doctor's visit that helped me while traveling and also boosted my confidence that healthcare delivery is NOT going down the tubes.

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The Season of Giving

Tis the season of giving.  I would argue, however, that “giving” is always in season. To me, it is simply a part of living in and building community. Giving is easy to do, and the gift doesn’t always have to be large to make a big impact.  Support your local food bank, invest in a school health program, deliver refreshments to a nursing home, contribute to your local cancer center, donate to an arts organization you believe in. You WILL brighten someone’s day (and yours as well, I bet.).   Some of the causes near and dear to my heart:

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