The healthcare industry is more competitive than ever. Independent physicians, group practices and support services can no longer rely on word of mouth or insurance referrals. Today’s healthcare organizations must reach patients by effectively marketing themselves.
Though many health professionals realize the power of marketing, many still view it as just an expense. Or they may feel that “legitimate” doctors don’t market. While this may have been true in the past, we now live in a different world. When strategically planned and correctly executed, marketing your healthcare organization can promote credibility, visibility and profitability—not to mention providing education for the greater good.
Surfing the medical ’Net
More than 62 percent of all internet users—that’s over 72 million Americans—have gone online to seek health information. While this is especially true of younger individuals, this tendency reaches across many demographics.
Well-designed websites can provide current and future patients with information regarding conditions, treatment options, procedures and post-op care. They can also provide preventative information, such as how to avoid cavities through proper brushing and flossing.
In addition to listing office hours and maps, websites can also include downloadable patient forms. A new trend is to securely allow patients to schedule appointments online or receive reminders via email.
(Credible) knowledge is power
As healthcare providers are expected to see more and more patients, appointment times are often shorter than either the physician or patient would like. In addition, when people are listening to their doctor describe a newly-diagnosed condition or explain an upcoming procedure, patients may be overwhelmed and not clearly remember all the details.
Therefore, supplemental patient education (in the form of a brochure or DVD) can reinforce information provided by the physician, answer questions or calm fears. Although some doctors purchase “stock” materials, many are now choosing to have custom items prepared with photos and content about the practice, staff, locations and treatments.
Face time IS important
In addition to providing excellent healthcare services to patients, many medical professionals want to build their practices. And don’t forget— most healthcare providers originally got into medicine because they wanted to help people. One of the best ways to build a reputation AND help people is through seminars. In these workshops, information can be controlled, questions can be answered and trust can be gained between the physician and healthcare consumer.
Mainstream media still works, too!
Don’t overlook newspaper and targeted magazine advertising, direct mail, radio, TV and/or billboards in your marketing plan. These die-hard mediums are still around for a reason. An experienced marketing firm knows how to combine these mediums with seminars, websites and educational materials in order to help you market— and build—your healthcare practice in using an educational, cohesive and effective approach that your current and prospective patients will appreciate. iBi