Insights on Healthcare Marketing

Be Willing to Bend

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:

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When a Physician Leaves

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:

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Marketing is …. Educating Your Patients

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

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Don’t Tell Me. Show Me.

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:

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Do You Know the Good, the Bad and the Ugly?

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. 

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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.

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Do You Have a Marketing Map?

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. 

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Always Look for the Helpers

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. 

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Examining Your Practice — Inside and Out

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:

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The Power of a Gracious Greeting

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? 

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