Looking for affordable ways to increase your practice revenues? One of the most effective and least costly ways is to train the people who answer your phones and the people who represent your practice to professional referrers to better represent your practice’s unique benefits.
BAC Medical Marketing is one of the very few medical marketing companies to offer comprehensive staff and practice representative training programs. Our training services are among the most robust and effective in the medical marketing industry. Staff training is also a critical source of revenue for your practice. It’s been estimated that the average healthcare practice loses $50,000 to $55,000 every year due to lost telephone tracking and appointment-setting opportunities. Staff training addresses:
• Phone Skills Training
• Tracking New Patient Calls
• Successful Internal Marketing
• External Marketing Strategies
• Onsite Customer Service Skills
• Increasing Patient Retention
• Optimizing Use of Marketing Materials
• Understanding the Basics of HIPAA
Practice representative training programs are specifically designed for healthcare practices seeking to increase their professional referrals and build long-term referral relationships. Practice rep training includes:
• Setting Up Your Key Referrer Program
• Tracking Return On Investment (ROI)
• Tactical Planning and Implementation
• Marketing Practice to Physicians and Businesses
• Current Follow-Up to Practice Rep Training
To learn more about our real-world revenue-generating training programs, call us today and you’ll receive a FREE Mystery Shopper call. Learn how your office staff is handling incoming phone calls and how well they are tracking each call to see if one of our training programs can help.
As the name “public relations” implies, this marketing tool includes methods and means by which an organization or individual (your practice or you) seeks to promote a favorable relationship with the public (your target audience of potential new patients and/or referral sources). Public relations (PR) methods and means may include such tactics as:
• Press releases (newsworthy announcements)
• News & feature stories
• Radio interviews
• TV appearances
• Special events (e.g. health screenings or health seminars)
What are you doing that is newsworthy? Healthcare is among the most popular and sought-after news topics in America. Hardly a nightly TV news segment passes without some bit of health-related news being presented to viewers. These stories often cover new treatments, new medical technologies and new ways of coping with various diseases. But they also present stories about doctors, dentists and physical therapists donating their time to worthy health causes in their communities or helping sick and needy people overseas (e.g., Doctors Without Borders, etc).
Many practitioners give to their communities. Many more do pro bono work here and abroad. And all too often, the public never hears about the terrific humanitarian work being done by these hard-working, dedicated individuals.
Public relations can be more cost-effective. Anyone with money to spend and something to sell can run an ad. And that is often the tactic you resort to when you want new patients for a particular treatment or procedure. Of course, advertising has its place in your marketing mix but PR is often less expensive and more effective at building your credibility and gaining trust.
With PR, you don’t pay for space or airtime as you would with a print ad or TV spot. A typical TV news segment, for example, might be three-four minutes long. That’s three-four minutes of airtime you don’t have to pay for. Compare that to a typical 30-second TV commercial that may cost thousands of dollars or hundreds of thousands (depending on the size of your market).
A simple press release, properly written and presented, can often generate much better results at a fraction of the cost of a print ad. If your story is picked up, there’s a much better chance that it will be read and believed than any paid print ad.
For what it’s worth, here’s some food for thought regarding the cost of delaying an important decision such as whether or not to move forward with a strategic marketing plan to gain referrals and new patients for your practice. Suppose you decide to sit and think about marketing for a while. Guess what happens? Nothing! It’s an interesting phenomenon.
Many practitioners read marketing information. Many research and investigate their options. But they won’t commit. The search alone seems to fulfill their emotional need to be proactive. They won’t make a decision. And they don’t feel pressured either. They don’t realize that procrastination has a HUGE financial and emotional impact for themselves, their families and their staff…this year…next year…and for the rest of their lives.
We understand that you may be uncertain about what constitutes a good investment right now. After all, real estate, the Dow Jones, banks and big automakers are all in trouble. The only thing that really makes sense in this climate is to invest in yourself and your practice. The returns will be higher, and you’ll be positioned for greater success when the economy rebounds.
You need to market now—to survive and flourish when things turn around. If you find that your practice needs some assistance with proper strategic planning, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are, by far, the largest and most successful company of our kind and North America’s leader in healthcare practice marketing for 30 years. We are seasoned veterans, working with nearly every type of practice imaginable, from start-ups to established multimillion-dollar practices looking to evolve to the next level.
BAC Medical Marketing works within your budget, puts your marketing plan into action and helps you achieve your practice goals – letting you focus 100% on what you love to do – care for your patients. The results can be spectacular. After nearly 30 years of success stories, results don’t lie. Our workshop and onsite “house call” programs are not just seminars or lectures but intense, in-depth, customized collaborative business meetings specifically designed to focus on helping you achieve your individual practice objectives through proper strategic planning.
We sincerely wish you the best of luck achieving your practice goals whether you work with us or not. Remember: Your dreams and goals are clear. 2009 is well underway and a smart, proven solution to your marketing challenges is right in front of you. If you WANT something you’ve never had before, perhaps you must DO something you’ve never done before. If not now, WHEN?
Elective medical procedures including cosmetic surgery and aesthetic/dermatological services present a unique opportunity to healthcare providers interested in marketing their services. Few insurance companies reimburse for these procedures and consequently patients are usually required to pay out-of-pocket. This shift in payment process changes the market for elective procedures in a number of ways as the patient:
* Can now choose any healthcare provider they desire
* Is more likely to comparison shop to find the best/cheapest provider
* May travel significant distances to visit their preferred provider
As a result of these changes, the market size for elective procedures is effectively much larger than that for insurance-reimbursed services as patients can be sourced from outside of the provider’s local geographic area. For example, skilled cosmetic surgeons are highly sought after by patients in high-socioeconomic populations and these patients are willing and able to travel significant distances in order to visit a top surgeon. The large, potentially international, population for these types of elective procedures makes for a highly competitive market – one that also happens to be ideally suited to online advertising.
When people think of online advertising they typically think of banner advertisements, however new marketing strategies such as search engine optimization and contextual advertising are currently providing better returns and, if applied intelligently, can be far more effective at generating new patients and increasing business for a healthcare practice.
Very briefly, search engine optimization is marketing strategy based on targeting existing search engine traffic for terms relating to specific medical procedures. Something of a “black art” - search engine optimization (SEO) is difficult to implement effectively and results can vary greatly between providers of SEO services, however the rewards are considerable.
Example: A prominent dermatologist recently contracted BAC Medical Marketing to provide online marketing for his Los Angeles dermatology practice. Los Angeles is widely recognized as a destination locale for aesthetic/cosmetic procedures and this physician saw an opportunity to increase business by targeting both local and national/international markets via online advertising and search engine optimization. As of the date of this blog entry, his site is ranked highly on Google and MSN for “Los Angeles dermatologist” and he is seeing a 40% increase in office appointments, all made directly through his web site.
In this blog entry I’ve focused mostly on cosmetic/aesthetic services, however almost any type of medical procedure where the patient is granted some freedom in their choice of provider can benefit from online advertising. Other applicable areas include complex procedures relating to oncology or cardiology services. As more and more patients go online to research their healthcare options, online advertising will continue to grow as an important part of any effective healthcare advertising campaign.
I read recently about a gentleman who was discussing his concerns about new heart treatments and medicines with his cardiologist – and about 10 other patients. This gentleman is one of a growing number of patients participating in a new way of providing healthcare – Shared Medical Appointments (SMAs).
SMAs allow as many as 15 patients to schedule an appointment with one physician for a 90-minute session. The physician interacts with individual patients as needed, but usually addresses questions with the entire group. “Physically and emotionally, I feel SMAs have a value and a benefit that regular physician appointments don’t have,” the gentleman said.
The benefit supporters say, is that you get to spend more time with your physician and see others who are dealing with the same issues. SMAs may not be appropriate for every medical encounter, said the gentleman’s cardiologist. But he thinks they have a promising future. “There’s a pressing issue in medicine, and the issue is one of access,” the cardiologist went on to say.
I am a firm believer in the increasing importance of educating and targeting healthcare consumers as part of a well-rounded marketing plan. I advocate providing consumer-level educational materials provided they can be tied directly to the branding efforts of the healthcare provider.
Research shows that 75 percent of people are using the Internet for health information, while 77 percent are getting knowledge from physicians. Additionally, about 40 percent turn to family and friends, while publications such as journals and books serve as a significant resource for 35 percent. According to a recent RAND health study, people surfing the web for health information are much more likely to use a search engine than go to a particular web site, but when they type in "diabetes" in Google, they are likely to get more than 6 million links.
I present the above situation as a case of client information overload that might call for the creation of a more structured form of patient information delivery. While it is definitely true that sifting through several million links could qualify as "information overload", rather than develop new ways of reaching consumers, some healthcare marketers are instead using search engine marketing techniques to place their web sites at the top of the rankings for these patient searches.
BAC Medical Marketing targets exactly this opportunity and our healthcare clients can attest to the effectiveness of these search engine marketing strategies. As a result of our marketing efforts, their patients are finding the information they need and our healthcare clients are realizing an excellent return on their advertising investment.
A business partner of mine had a conversation with a healthcare client which pointed out an intellectual conflict that I imagine is fairly common among medical practices and healthcare providers; The Business of Medicine Conflict.
Healthcare providers rightly feel that their primary purpose is the provision of medical services. Conflict however seems to arise from the idea that providing care is their only purpose and that attending to the details necessary to successfully provide this care, namely promotion and advertising of the practice, is not only unnecessary – but actually contrary to the ideals of practicing medicine.
Healthcare providers operate on a classic fee-for-service business model; however it can distasteful to some physicians to view their “care” as a “business”.
This fundamental business/medicine conflict underlies poor business and marketing decisions that negatively impact the success many healthcare practices:
* No Advertising – “We provide excellent care – people find us by word of mouth.”
* Insufficient Marketing Budget – “Advertising cuts into our bottom line.”
* Weak Practice Branding – “I’m a physician, not a product.”
From an emotional viewpoint these statements are understandable – they stem from a common desire by the physician to view their work as something unique that should be recognized on its own merits. The pragmatic reality however is that medical care almost entirely a commoditized service; outside of instances of medical malpractice, there is very little to differentiate one physician’s care versus any others.
In the end a patient’s choice of one physician over another often comes down to a name in the phonebook, the results of an online search, or personal recommendations from friends and family. It is the patient’s perception of the healthcare provider that governs their decision.
Based on experiences with the coercive tactics of pharmaceutical companies, it’s perhaps not surprising that many physicians view advertising as distasteful. Advertising however takes many forms and there is an important distinction to be made between manipulating public perception and simply publicizing an honest and useful service.
We live in a world of flaccid 'me-too' medical marketing, where hospitals and doctors trade bragging rights over the latest whiz-bang device or treatment. A world where TV stations and billboard companies are happy to take your money to run ineffectual medical marketing that leaves ordinary people (you know, those people you’d like to get as new patients) unconvinced. Or even worse, apathetic.
Would you like to find new ways to take your medical marketing materials to the next level? Maybe even prove to your administration that advertising really works? Incorporating a few ideas from direct response commercials might be just what you need. I’m not suggesting your hospital or medical practice start running commercials with flashing phone numbers and a hyped up announcer shouting “Call Now! Time is Running Out!”. But if you want your next healthcare organization marketing plan to deliver results, it won’t hurt to take a few hints from marketers who live and die by results.
Time for a little honesty: none of these tips are the holy grail of marketing. If you’re a student of advertising, you’re aware of many, and maybe all of them. They are truly fundamental. But that’s what you do when your game is off — you go back and study the fundamentals. Take note of these tips, and think about how you could use them to make your medical marketing more effective.
First of all, the people you’re appealing to only listen to one station: WIIFM. If you want new patients to take notice and respond to your message, you’ve got to play it on the only station that matters: WIIFM - 'What’s In It For Me'. You’ve got to showcase the unique selling point of your medical practice or healthcare system quickly, and then quickly explain why it matters to them.
More You, Less We. Reduce the ‘WE’ (as in “WE now offer Cyborg Knife Gamma-Ray Surgery, the most cutting-edge surgery known to modern man.”) and replace it with more ‘YOU’ (as in “YOU will have a smaller incision, less pain, and a speedier recovery with Advanced Cyborg Knife Gamma-Ray Surgery.”). When you get people to picture how your health care system will make their life better, you’re well on your way to having a patient for life.
Words Matter. They matter a lot. Keep your unique selling proposition short. Use as few powerful words as you can. Use language that will be easy for regular people to swallow. Then repeat as necessary until maximum results are achieved. This tip alone will help you stand out from the sea of medical blather out there.
Use the Undeniable Force of a Dramatic Demonstration. This is a technique you see over and over again in DRTV and infomercials - a man soaking up a whole bottle of soda with a high tech shammy, a formerly horrible golfer who can now drive a golf ball 300 yards, even the before and after pictures for weight loss products. The power of a dramatic demonstration cannot be overstated.
If Advanced Cyborg Knife Gamma-Ray Surgery results in a smaller incision and a virtually unnoticeable scar - show people how insignificant the scar will be. If it helps patients get back to their normal life quicker, show a patient on the golf course only a few days after surgery. Every Direct Marketer understands this simple fact: In the battle for mindshare, a dramatic demonstration is your secret weapon. It’s human nature.
I’ll share more Direct Response tips with you later that will help you add power to your healthcare organization marketing plan. But for now, let me leave you with a crucial one: Don’t neglect to tell people how you want them to respond. People want to respond, you need to make it easy for them. If you want them to call and sign up for a free health screening or prevention guide, tell them that, then show them your phone number. Don’t try and hide it - make it easy to read, and leave it on screen long enough for someone to go get a pencil and paper, come back to the screen and write it down. You know how you want people to respond to your marketing - make sure they know. After working so hard to make medical marketing materials with real impact, don’t lose it in the inches here.