Insights on Healthcare Marketing

Social Media: Think Before You Leap

Seems everywhere you turn today, you read or hear about social media.  For healthcare organizations, social media can be a great tactic to help build and strengthen your base.  However, like any tactic, it is not the “end all be all.”  It comes with its own set of unique challenges. And if not done properly, it can turn into wasted resources or even backfire on you.  Like any new marketing vehicle, we recommend that you think through how social media will fit into your overall marketing plan (meaning it should be just one tactic of many) before you dive in. And remember … the power of social media is in its ability to engage in conversation and build interest and loyalty at a grassroots level.

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Give Back

I am a big believer in giving – whether it be your time, talents or financial resources.  To me, it is a responsibility … a part of community.  So when our clients turn to us to find out how they can better reach the communities they serve, we always recommend giving back to one or two local non-profits, often focused on healthcare, always with missions that inspire them.  However, just giving isn’t enough … you need to make it personal.  Write a thoughtful note or letter to accompany your contribution. Send a photo.  Drop it off personally. Create a memory for the receiving charity, and they, in turn, will remember you.

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Hitting the Mark

Those who are new to marketing (and even some who aren’t) often want to jump in with a pie-in-the-sky approach.  They want an ad in the major local newspaper, a billboard, a drive-time radio blitz, a seminar series or a television commercial.  While these mediums all have a place and purpose in the world of marketing, they also come with high price tags and often are not the best approach for a small business or medical office, especially one with a limited budget just starting out.  You want results. Or as one of my favorite marketing leaders, Seth Godin, emphasizes, you need to build your “tribe.”  Some of the best ways to do that?

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Making the Rounds

So you are new to your community or perhaps you have recently brought on an associate or partner who is.  How do you get the word out and expand your network?  Letters and announcement cards are always great, but almost everybody does them.  Yet, very few new physicians take the time (which they often have in the beginning) to truly reach out.  Visit your neighbors and top referring physicians.  Stop by the hospital and visit the administrative offices, the ER, the Nursing Director.  Let them know who you are, what you hope to achieve and how you are excited to be a part of their community.  Be sure to make it a two-way conversation.

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What is Your Story?

We’re all familiar with the traditional physician bio – medical school, internship, residency and fellowship.  Some are written in prose, some the usual CV format. Either way, the problem is that even with stellar credentials and training, they all start to look the same.  It used to be completing a fellowship made you stand out.  Now it is the standard.  Your potential patients and referring physicians really want to know who you are and what makes you different.  So tell them.  Share your story.  Why did you go into medicine?  Why did you choose your specialty?  What do you enjoy most about it?  What inspires you?  What do you do outside of work that is interesting? How do you give back to the community?

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A Picture Says a Thousand Words

What do your practice pictures and head shots say about you?  Current and cutting-edge  or outdated and old fashioned?  Amateur or professional?  Take the time to update your photos every few years, and hire a professional photographer to do so.  Once again, this may seem like a low priority item or unnecessary expense given all of the pressing needs on your current “to-do” list, but like your office décor, your photos are a part of your brand and convey a message.  Make sure yours communicate the right message. And once you have new photos, be sure to use them.  Update your Web site and any printed marketing materials.  In many cases, these photos are your “first impression” with patients or referral sources.  Make it a good one.

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A Few Ideas for Creating a More Patient-Centric Office

1. Incorporate art.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or even original.  Just choose items that will surround your patients with beauty or nature to help them mentally escape their worries and medical concerns – at least temporarily.  One physician I worked with was an amateur photographer and decorated his patient rooms with bright, lively photos he had taken on his various travels.  Not only did this help to enhance the warmth of his exam rooms, it really added a personal touch and forged conversation and connections as patients often asked about the photos. 2. Use color.  Nothing is more sterile or boring than a white wall.  Choose colors that are warm and inviting. 3.

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There’s No Place Like Home

When we’re worried, stressed and don’t feel well, we all yearn for the comforts of home.    Unfortunately, for too long, medical practices and institutions have ignored this basic need.  In recent years, there has been a ton of research on creating “healing environments,” and I’m happy to see that this is starting to trickle down to medical practices as well, causing a shift in the approach to medical office décor. It is becoming much more patient centric as it should. So what does décor’ have to do with marketing?  Everything!!! Your décor and the impression and feelings it gives your patients when they walk in your doors is all a part of their experience and thus, your brand.

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Ten Ways to Nurture One of Your Greatest Assets

Behind every great physician is a motivated, appreciated and empowered staff. Noted marketing guru and change-agent Seth Godin calls them “Linchpins” (which is also the title of his latest book if you are looking for a good read).  Here are a few tips on keeping your team in tip-top shape. 

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What Referring Physicians Want

Here are six things referring physicians want: 1. To feel as if they’re part of the team.  Report to them promptly and send their patients back to them. 2. To be kept informed.  Send a thorough response – a detailed, diagnostic report – for every referral.  Include an executive summary at the beginning of the report. 3. To be able to reach you.  Be available to referring doctors.  Have a dedicated phone line for them and set aside a specific time each day to return calls.  When appropriate, provide them your cell phone number as well. 4. To get their patients in to see you in a prompt manner.  Schedule referred patients as quickly as possible.  Set aside a block of time in your schedule each day for these referred patients – and let referrers know about it. 5.

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