A reported 80% of doctors are either at capacity or over extended. More than half of physicians say they wish they worked fewer hours per week. Your days consist of seeing patients, multi-tasking, charting, checking emails on your phone, etc. Taking a break and actually leaving the office for lunch is out of the question. You don’t always sleep through the night. Your pagers or phones are always on. You rarely make appointments to take care of your own health. In such a demanding profession, simply meeting the main objective of treating patients can be overwhelming enough. There is often little time left to give to thinking about a marketing plan to grow the business. However, especially for a private practice, it is crucial.
There are indeed doctors that understand the business side of their medical practice and make it a priority. They understand marketing and the importance of a robust referral network and planning for the future. But for each doctor that gets it, there are many more that don’t or don’t want to, much of which is due to the lack of business education in medical school. Patients should certainly be doctors’ primary priority; however, it is essential for physicians to understand their practice as a business in order for it to grow. Clinical expertise is simply not enough. Implementing key marketing strategies to attract new referral sources and patients is crucial.
Here are 4 ways that a busy doctor can implement marketing strategies to grow their practice and increase revenue:
1. Do what you do best and hire great people to help you with what you aren’t great at.
Knowing how to best promote your practice to patients and other medical providers is a big task. Less than 10% of physicians routinely refer to physicians they don’t know and about 40% say they know something specific about the specialists’ outcomes or quality records. The more well-known you are in your community, the greater your opportunity for referrals from other medical providers (namely PCPs). No time for this? Hire a Physician Liaison to make connections on your behalf. This is a very effective model that has shown time and time again to help specialty practices build patient pipelines that ensure long term success.
2. Online Reputation
Your online reputation as a physician is crucial. These days, the Internet allows patients and referral sources to easily access information on you and your practice and they are increasingly relying on the reviews they find to influence them in their decision-making process. It is important for medical providers to claim online profiles, check for accuracy and actively manage reviews. Add pictures and as much information as you can to your profile. Most importantly – be proactive. Encourage current patients who are satisfied with your services to leave a positive online review and respond to the negative reviews promptly.
3. Get Active on Social Media
Digital marketing can greatly enhance a referral marketing campaign. According to a recent study highlighted by the American Academy of Family Physicians’ (AAFP), more than 70% of primary care physicians and oncologists use social media at least once a month to explore or contribute health information. In addition, nearly 70% of adults use social media to connect with others, engage with news and content and share information. It is essential that you use social media to engage and connect with your current and potential referral sources and patients, but you have to be CONSISTENT. Designate a member of your office staff to be the social media lead or use a medical marketing firm to do it for you. Share smart, useful content, follow and engage with other referring medical providers and use visuals.
4. Create a blog
In addition to relationship marketing for referrals, blogs give referring medical providers a chance to get to know you, the scope of your practice, your expertise and your passions. The more they get to know you, they more they trust you. The more they trust you, the more comfortable they are sending their patients to you. Your blog is a platform that you can personally customize to help other physicians get to know more about you and your specialty. Short, newsy pieces with clinical information that PCPs can use are a great way to win points. Think carefully about what your referral sources need to know. Then give it to them in brief. Post to your website and social media sites and invite referring medical providers to follow it. Again, a Physician Liaison can help with this.
It is true that physicians are often already overworked, but taking time to strategize marketing can increase the profitability of a medical practice. Ask for help so you can get back to doing what you do best!