Healthcare marketing doesn't have to be difficult.
This article is fourth in a series of blog articles produced by NueMD focused on healthcare marketing.
You've heard marketing your medical practice means more money, but you're busy providing patient care and navigating administrative burden. Luckily, medical marketing isn't a race. It's the small consistent strides that provide big returns down the line.
Over the next 4 weeks, we'll discuss important healthcare marketing tips for medical professionals who are understandably busy.
How to Market Your Practice Tip #4
Build a brand your patients can trust.
It's no secret that the internet is rapidly changing the business landscape of healthcare. As patients become more empowered as consumers, a growing demand for transparency in healthcare has blurred the lines between medical practice and business practice. Even millennials have a hand in the changing healthcare landscape. These days, it's so important to look at your medical practice through a marketer's lens.
Understand your brand
In the book Creating Powerful Brands, Leslie de Chernatony discusses the importance of a brand as an intangible asset that represents a relationship with the consumer, a relationship that is personified by the company's name or brand (16). Every marketer knows that getting a brand to be successful involves getting a customer to trust in it.
When a customer trusts in your brand, it adds value to your business. As Chernatony says, "given that customers today have as much information about suppliers as suppliers have about them, the most powerful brands will be customer-centric. Successful companies will know the customer and will be the customer's advocate (23)."
Of course, not every medical practice needs to dump tons of money into branding themselves. However, every practice should have an understanding of how the patient relationship affects their brand and vice-versa.
It may sound obvious, but fostering a good relationship with your patients allows them to trust in your brand, which adds value to your practice. If you want to improve your brand, start with improving your patient relationships.
Focus on patient-centric care
The 2018 healthcare buzzword is patient-centric care. According to NEJM, patient-centered care is making sure that an individual's specific health needs and desired health outcomes are the driving force behind all healthcare decisions and quality measurements. Providing patient-centric care means shifting the focus from the provider to the patient by giving patients instant access to their healthcare information. It means stepping out of a clinical vacuum and collaborating with patients on a more comprehensive level. Additionally, when a patient takes ownership of their care, it leads to a more collaborative relationship and allows the physician to shift from the source of health information to the interpreter of health information.
The goal of any healthcare professional is to provide efficient care for every patient. However, several outside factors such as long wait times, stressful schedules, and a lack of interoperability can stand in the way of making patients a more active participator in their care.
Empower your patients
As patients become more like consumers, the goals of a medical practice begin to resemble that of a business. Lists of marketing tips are growing in interest to physicians and office staff because of its focus on the patient as a consumer.
Introducing patient-centric care to your practice will take time and effort, but can lead to more patient satisfaction. As we've shown earlier, when you foster the relationship between physicians and patients, you're also fostering your practice's brand.
Here are two ways to move towards patient-centric care:
- Integrate Two-way Communication Between Patients and Providers - Use a patient portal software to keep patients feeling empowered and engaged. Features such as secure messaging, appointment schedules, and viewing labs are great ways to keep patients involved in their own care with little interruption to your own work flow.
- Make Patient Data Accessible On-Demand - In addition to using a patient portal, giving patient summaries of each visit, providing patient-specific educational information and telemedicine are all good practices in meeting the patient halfway.
Become an influencer
One great way to gain the trust of your patients and audience is to become a local authority for breaking news and events. Stewart Gandolf of Healthcare Success suggests reaching out to local news channels and offering your expertise when a national news story pertains to your field. Gandolf argues that this is especially easy for a specialty in a small market. "If you're a dermatologist, you could offer to speak during skin cancer awareness month in May," he adds.
When reaching out to news sources, keep in mind that your online presence will serve as part of your resume. Media representatives will want to see that you're a credible source before bringing you on.
Curious about your social media presence? Use a website like Klout.com to measure your influence.
Chernatony, Leslie de, et al. Creating Powerful Brands. 1992. 4th ed., Butterworth-Heinemann, 2011.