IT’S A NEW YEAR, AND WITH IT COMES THE OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE NEW RESOLUTIONS. Here are some medical doctor marketing priorities to firm up for 2015:
1. Capitalize upon chiropractic successes.
2. Optimize and grow core customer business.
3. Generate great brand and market awareness.
4. Develop a world-class experience for patients, and
5. Create a high-performance culture.
1 CAPITALIZE UPON CHIROPRACTIC SUCCESSES AND TARGETED MARKET OPPORTUNITIES. It’s well-documented in research that doctors of chiropractic (DCs) excel at managing acute and chronic lower back pain and some forms of headache and neck pain. These successes serve as conversation starters with MDs. Each encounter with an MD should allow you to share with providers key points on DCs’ care for these conditions, plus successful achievements, including:
• mechanism of action of manipulation, and
• efficacy/outcomes with emphasis on pain and disability measures.
It should be a priority that once an MD triggers a referral, you monitor your statistics to ensure that you optimize the referral rate of that MD through discharge reports of referred patients and consistent education and outreach. It cannot be underscored how imperative this step is to success and how large a role consistency in communication plays. Make sure you have a plan in place to consistently track your reports, outreach and statistics.
2 OPTIMIZE AND GROW CORE CUSTOMER BUSINESS. In most instances, expect to build referrals with lower back patients and plan to move into neck, headache and other appropriate conditions you excel at treating. Although DCs may initially be associated with the back, you can change that way of thinking. This MD relationship will be fostered for the lifetime of your career, and there will always be opportunities to expand the physician’s horizon on which patients are suitable for referral.
3 GENERATE GREAT BRAND AWARENESS. When looking to your brand, you immediately think about your logo, color themes and tag lines. Those don’t make your brand strong, but they can support the message of a strong brand. When you think about your brand, think about what you want it to reflect.
TARGET AUDIENCE: In order to sell a strong brand, you have to sell it to the right audience. If you focus on extremities, your brand shouldn’t be built on headaches. If you excel at managing the lower back, you shouldn’t build a brand on shoulder pain. The best part of marketing to MDs is tapping into large groups of patients with conditions that interest you through proper branding. Think about the conditions you are passionate about treating, and build your brand with that audience in mind.
GREAT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: Results are a top contender in patient experiences, and great patient experiences build a strong brand. But results don’t define the experience. It starts immediately at first contact and continues a lifetime through proper patient education and contact. Strive to anticipate concerns and meet expectations beyond the standard ones.
OFFICE ENVIRONMENT: Your office environment (e.g. cleanliness, organization, wait times, etc.) reflects your brand. Your bedside manner and your front desk and other staff support your brand. If any of these are lacking or can be improved upon, make it a priority to do so now.
SOCIAL MEDIA: You should market your social media sites in your print material. Any social media where a patient can post a comment (e.g. Google, Yelp, etc.) about your care must be carefully monitored. One bad review can outweigh a host of good ones and instantly put doubt in the reader’s mind. Become present in these reviews either by replying with a thank-you or by responding to problems professionally and within HIPAA constraints.
MATERIAL: Your marketing material should reflect your brand and broadcast key features of your care. It’s worth promoting your commitment to MD communication and referrals as it will build patient confidence to know that their providers are communicating and creating an integrated team. Materials should be fresh looking and, modern and present a clear and concise brand message.
4 DEVELOP A WORLD-CLASS EXPERIENCE.
PATIENTS: Chiropractic has high rates of patient satisfaction, which is a selling point to MDs. At the time of patient discharge, ask the patient to fill out a patient satisfaction survey or consider sending it via an email survey format. Accumulating this feedback helps with marketing and also provides valuable feedback on whether or not you’re meeting your desired patient experience. Make sure to collect your own office satisfaction rates and broadcast them appropriately in print material and in medical conversations.
MDs: If an MD asks for information, make sure you and your staff prioritize the response. Reports are part of this. Quick responses and timely reports instill trust, while professionalism generates high levels of MD satisfaction. If you asked permission from the patient and received it, share the survey results with the physician by sending a copy with the discharge report. If you know an MD has an interest in a certain clinical condition and you see a report or article about it from a chiropractic perspective, send a copy to him or her. If MDs know you’re catering to them, they’re certainly going to know it is important for you to cater to their patients. Be quick in your responses, and look for ways to keep communication flowing.
5 CREATE A HIGH PERFORMANCE ENVIRONMENT. The front desk is a patient’s first experience. Make sure you have proper procedures and protocols in place to ensure a high level of patient confidence and a smooth experience. These days, it’s not hard to stand out from other health practices. All too often, we can hear the fatigue in a receptionist’s voice or wait weeks for a first appointment only to spend a limited time with the physician. With a little effort you can provide a friendly, warm environment that enhances patient comfort.
EMPLOYEES AND OTHER STAFF: Hire strong employees who will support your vision. A friendly, outgoing and energetic receptionist and a professional, firm, but fair billing specialist have primary roles in patient experiences. Any other practitioner in your office should agree with your vision for the ultimate patient experience. You, as the owner, are in control, and if you place these expectations upon your staff, they will follow through. It will certainly