Medical practice marketing is now a fairly common concept for many physicians. Every practice should have a healthcare marketing strategy in place so you can market your practice better to current and future patients. How important is the marketing strategy in healthcare? It is important today than ever before; not only do patients use websites and other forms of social media to find physicians to treat them, but healthcare workers looking for jobs use them as well.
A practice website is invaluable to your marketing strategy. Posting blogs regularly on your website allows your practice to have a greater visibility online and helps you connect with your patients. Use what you know about patient demographics and what topics would be most educational. You may even want to focus on frequently asked questions most of your patients and give them answers. Keeping information you provide current and relevant is important for establishing credibility both online and in-person.
Healthcare evolves continuously so you must consider the changes and adapt while keeping patients informed. The way you market your practice is a reflection of how well you know your practice. Also, understand that marketing strategies will be subject to change as well. The tactics that worked five or ten years ago do not apply today. Knowing who you are marketing to including patients and potential employees is important. Strategies for marketing are different depending on who you are marketing to. You might attend annual conferences and bring brochures that highlight what your practice has to offer as well as the work environment. Meanwhile, your waiting room may have brochures that answer common questions and give information about chronic diseases or preventative care. Your website should have similar information in case people are looking up the practice online. You also want to have information about the doctors at the practice and their backgrounds. Whether you are marketing to patients or physicians you should have a strategy in place that is structured but also flexible.
For many medical practices retaining patients is an unspoken challenge. Of course there are always going to be patients and physicians to treat them but during a time of change in healthcare it is increasingly difficult to retain patients. There are six simple ways to help keep your practice on track:
Marketing your practice the correct way will help increase patient retention. A lot of practices still don’t utilize the technology that is available and this can negatively impact their practice. Contacting patients through Email, making them aware of the services your practice offers, is one way to stay in touch with patients. Your online presence plays a huge role in how accessible you are to patients. Creating a website and keeping it updated regularly will also be in your best interest.
Proper Scheduling /Wait-time
When the office gets busy, sometimes appointments can get backed up. Many patients have busy schedules as well and you don’t want to keep them waiting around. Be realistic about how long it will take the physician to see the patient and schedule accordingly. Patient wait-time can negatively impact your practice and cause you to lose patients. The more organized the office is at the start of the appointment (check-in) the less confusion and idle time there will be.
Schedule a time in the day for the physician to follow-up with patients. Regularly notify patients of upcoming appointments either by email or telephone. Not only will patients feel like a priority but the practice will operate more smoothly if you can plan ahead for canceled appointments or changes.
The amount of time the physician is spending with patients matters. A physician can be outside of the room looking at the patient’s chart for 15-20 minutes and then go into the room and speak to them for 5 minutes. A patient is not seeing the amount of time the physician spent on his/her case and that can be discouraging to the patient. The physician should spend more time with the patient; going over the chart and plan for care with the patient in the room will be beneficial to you and the patient.
Patients value how telephone communications are handled by the practice. Have a protocol for answering and transferring phone calls; the last thing you need is a patient complaining about rude front desk receptionists. You don’t want there to be communication gaps; make sure the staff notifies the physician of important calls as they come in.
Sometimes patients may have questions or concerns that come up after their appointment and this is expected, but planning ahead is essential. Be prepared. Make sure the office has pamphlets and other material that will be useful to patients and answers common questions about care and treatment. Try to answer as many questions before the patient leaves the office so the receptionists won’t be fielding questions to the physician all day, which takes up a lot of time.
Retaining patients should be a top priority and ensuring you are able to create good relationships with patients depends on how well the practice functions on a daily basis. Making small changes that enhance patient experience and organization will have long-lasting effects.
Physicians may not see the benefits in hiring a medical marketer but good marketing can help double or triple your current business. Of Course you’d want to hire an experienced marketer with a resume to back it up; a marketer’s salary can be high depending on what state your practice is located in. You don’t want to be paying a marketer to do a job they are not equipped to do that’s why a candidate needs ample experience listed on his/her resume.
Medical practices are using more technology than ever before and patients can search for a practice on the internet before making an appointment. A marketer can help advertise for your practice on social media and manage your practice’s website. Also, a medical marketer should be utilized to handle public relations; this means they may be working odd hours and not the typical 9 to 5 work day. Remember that a medical marketer does not need a healthcare degree, but he/she should have a good understanding of your practice and your practice’s specialty. A degree in business/marketing may be more suitable, but someone who has worked with a hospital or medical practice before is a necessity. You do not want a marketer who has zero experience working with some type of medical practice. If you feel like your practice can’t afford a new hire you may want to ask your office manager if they can fulfill some of the marketing tasks, but make sure your office manager is on board with these new responsibilities. You want to see results and if your office manager can’t commit to that then you should talk to a financial consultant and see if you can budget to afford a medical marketer even if it’s just part time.
Take the proper steps to hire a medical marketer and be involved in the hiring process. Medical marketers can really help a practice on so many levels; it’s better to hire someone else to do the marketing than trying to treat patients and keep track of public relations and social media.