Need for Marketing of Professional Medical Practices –
Taking the programmatic approach with clear strategies, and effective tactics and implementation…planned, targeted and economic use of resources…hallmarks of the well-organized professional practice development program…
Marketing, promotion, advertising, public relations, special events…these are all elements of professional practice development. “Advertising” and “marketing” in the complex and diverse world of healthcare has been changing dramatically…and rapidly. Just as important dynamics in society, medicine, hospital affiliations and the healthcare professions have changed, professional medical practice development has shifted from an informal or periodic and more casual approach to a dedicated effort…proactive, highly-focused and a very competitive activity.
Where once a few low-key medical practices really were the only games in town, and the local hospital was low-key in its promotions, it is now common to find several hospital-centered or office-based practices competing locally and regionally head-to-head for market share (and competing for referral sources and new patients, as well as striving to retain patients ).
To maintain and build your practice’s market share, expand your patient base and to gain maximum leverage of your personnel, technology and equipment, thereby increasing practice revenue -- marketing has become one of the key components of virtually all medical practices.
Marketing is no more about an occasional expenditure in a community organization’s ad journal or sending a “thank you basket” or small gift to a referring physician. Practice marketing must be a well-organized, well-planned and an effectively-executed approach focused on educating existing patients; reaching out to the potential pool of new patients; maintaining professional contact with current referring physicians and their support staff, and constantly searching for new referring physicians.
While the start up costs for such a marketing plan are typically significant (as compared to the more casual promotional approach) a well-organized marketing plan usually levels off costs over time so that it can be easily budgeted and amortized, both for the upfront investment and for maintenance of the program over sustained periods of time.
Marketing should be viewed not as a cost center, but a profit center for the medical practice that helps to increase revenue by meeting the practice’s short-term and long- term goals including maximum uses of resources, increase patient referrals and the building of the practice foundation for the future. Information is the currency of the realm in medical practice development.
Medical practice marketing is about developing relationships with referral sources by informing and educating them about the specific services that you provide, about your capabilities, and accommodating their needs (and especially their patients’ needs). This might include arranging evening or night time and weekend hours that are more convenient to their patients; improving communications between your practice staff and the referring doctor’s staff; conducting outreach programs that include in-person visits to referral sources, follow up phone calls and distribution of communications materials.
The best programs are built on a solid base of research – with in-depth knowledge of the market area, its demographics, cultural practices, ethnic make-up considerations, economics, and many other factors.
Consider that partners and members of your staff are medical professionals, not marketing specialists. A marketing plan developed by experienced and savvy marketing professionals, reviewed periodically for effectiveness, designed for physician input, and with built-in evaluation of progress being made are necessary components for success of any established medical practice.
The medical profession is changing and as healthcare professionals initiate marketing programs, more accurately described as professional practice development programs, it will become increasingly more important to educate and inform referring physicians and potential patients. It is also important to maintain the financial base and grow the practice.
The team members at Boerner Communications have considerable experience and expertise in the creation and implementation of programmatic practice development programs – we welcome your inquiries.