What Do You Offer?
The first P in marketing is “product”. You may think that you deliver patient care, you don’t sell a product, but in this usage, product refers to everything and anything that your practice offers to patients. Especially patient care.
In today’s environment, this may be the most critical aspect of your marketing and to your success if you are in private practice. Whatever sector of healthcare you provide there are undoubtedly multiple providers offering the same general service lines, including large organizations that are growing larger daily. As a patient, why should I choose your practice? I’m not asking rhetorically. You should think this through and write down your answers. And if you don’t like the answers, it will give you a quick overview of things that you need to change, add or delete.
Ask yourself the following:
1) How is what I offer to my patients different than others in my specialty?
Most providers I’ve talked with think that they offer outstanding patient care. And most actually do. The double-edged sword is that, even if you are the sole practitioner in your business, you are being judged on every aspect of the services you provide, from the initial patient contact, through the billing process, to discharge. And the biggest chunk of it has nothing to do with the outstanding care you deliver to your patients. An unfriendly reception or a billing mess will cause you just as many, if not more, lost patients and referrals than anything you do personally. So once you define what it is that you offer that makes you different, everyone on your team needs to know what that is, and how to provide it each and every time.
2) Do I (or could I) offer additional unique services?
I’m not necessarily referring to medical specialties, although it might be. More from the patient point-of-view asking, “What can you help me with that other practices don’t?” And this is where you thrive already. Think about the patients that you’ve helped where the outcome made you feel great. That you love telling your peers about. The tricky one, the difficult ones or the unusual ones. I’m suggesting that you make these into larger focal points of your practice. Let people know that you welcome those types of cases. It may be that adding another discipline or offering products to help those types of patients may grow your practice in a direction that is good for them and good for you.
3) Do I really know what patients like about my practice? What they don’t like?
No offense, but no, you don’t. Not because you aren’t interested or don’t listen to your patients. It’s because patients are still intimidated by “The Doctor” (or equivalent). They do not tell you the truth because people want their Doctor to like and respect them. They can be fuming because they sat in your waiting room (in their minds, unnecessarily) for an hour, then on a cold exam table waiting for another hour (in their minds, unnecessarily), but when you walk in the door they will be glad to see you. And thank you when they leave. Then they will call/e-mail/facebook their friends to tell them about the miserable experience they had in your office. Your staff is not very likely to tell you that a patient is unhappy, most especially if the patient was unhappy about them. So basically everyone tells you that everything is great, and you believe them. The problem with this of course, is that you don’t know what goes wrong, and almost worse, you don’t know what goes right. But you can find out, and it is as easy as asking. You just have to make the information confidential if they choose to remain anonymous, and very easy to share. And (ick) you need to read the posted reviews about your practice.
I’ll be posting more on each of these areas, to share some more ideas on how to grow your practice by improving the “product”, adding services and getting honest patient feedback. Please let me know if you have ideas to share or specific topics you’d like me to discuss.