Many people perceive marketing with advertising and promotions such as television ads, billboards, or direct mailers. Marketing is, however, so much more that just that. We define marketing as the overall influence of how a person views your product or service, or otherwise put, the general perception of you. What does the general perception of you and your practice have to do with managing risk? Everything!
On occasion, there are adverse results from a procedure. What can help your practice minimize the risk associated with these outcomes is the patient’s experience surrounding it. If you have a referral coordinator who minimizes the stress of scheduling the patient, a nurse that informs patients when you are running behind so they can plan as needed, and an online presence that highlights all the positive experiences other patients have had, you will be leagues beyond your peers who do not.
What are some simple steps to manage your risk from a marketing perspective?
Hire the right staff, set up clear expectations, and train them well
Many issues in a practice come from not properly preparing your staff or not being picky enough and hiring the wrong people. This can be avoided by laying the foundation for these positions properly. To begin, create mission, vision, and core value statements. This allows people to know if they are a right fit for the organization from the get go. Next, have detailed job descriptions for all positions. This avoids the confusion of not being sure of who is responsible for what duties. And last, put together a robust employee handbook. This demonstrates the expectations and guidelines for the environment in which their jobs are completed.
This is a quality that needs reinforcement throughout a practice. The best rule of thumb is to think of one of your worst experienced days, and to assume your patients are experiencing it. They could be waiting to hear if they have a malignant cancer, or to find out if they indeed will be losing their job because they have to take four months off for a back surgery. Either way, you should have your practice assume the worst.
Actively monitor your image
When is the last time that you as a physician Googled your name? It is amazing what will be out there without any prompting on your part. Because this information is often exceedingly negative, it is even more important to create a system of positivity. Having a
monitored Facebook business page where patients can let others know about their positive experience is a great resource. Also, having an internal system to encourage patients to go online and complete reviews are equally important. This could be as simple as having a patient survey which includes the questions they will be asked online, or as intricate as making laptops and iPads available in the waiting room for returning patients to be able to complete it while they wait. The other online areas to monitor include both your website and your competitors’ websites. If another urologist in town states that they are the “Only AMBS board certified urologist in the region by the American Board of Urology,” this indirectly reflects on you and your practice.
Minimize public two-way conversations
Exams rooms were originally created for a purpose, to protect a patient’s privacy. That policy should be applied both in the rest of the office as well as online, regardless of the specialty. Office staff should never check a patient in or out while asking if they would like to make their next appointment for their fungus removal procedure, to follow up on their biopsy, or anything of the sort. In the same way online, patients may want to post personal information on your practice’s Facebook page, or another similar site. Whether positive or negative, the conversation should remain as one way as possible. If it’s positive such as, “thanks for a great recovery doc,” then no response is needed. If it’s negative, the comment can either be removed, hidden, or responded to. Depending on the severity of the comment, it may be a better approach to publicly respond generically and say, “We are sorry to hear of your unsatisfactory experience. Our patients are our highest priority and we would like to continue to exceed expectations. Please call our office manager directly at 555-1212 and we will be happy to discuss this with you.”
If used correctly, marketing can be an extremely effective tool in protecting you and your practice’s public image. By hiring and training the right staff, giving them appropriate guidelines and boundaries, and actively monitoring and building on your online image, you’ll be using marketing tools to manage your risk in no time.
Andrew Creme’ is the CEO of MD Practice Consulting. He has worked a decade in the field of medical marketing and business development and consulted with clients in Florida, Texas, Michigan, Indiana, New Jersey, and New Mexico. Some of the leading projects he has been involved with include: medical facility expansion, sales representation management, operational tracking mechanisms, revenue and growth strategies, and public relations training. Andrew has his Bachelors in Economics and Sociology from Calvin College and his Masters in Marketing and Management from Rollins College. He can be reached at email@example.com.