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Healthcare has become a highly competitive business. Patients have evolved into healthcare connoisseurs with high expectations of their providers. Most consumers do a significant amount of homework before choosing a provider or having a procedure. With this evolution, providers have had to become more creative in marketing how they reach and build relationships with patients.

A recent blog posted on KevinMD inspired further research into the ways healthcare should be different from other businesses. As a medical marketing professional with over 19 years experience, I have seen a significant change in how healthcare is “done.” Some of the changes are quite positive, and some make me cringe. Here are five secrets for marketing and growing a successful medical practice in today’s competitive landscape.

    1. Never put profits before patient care – This may seem like a no-brainer, but we often get caught in a cycle of gains and losses and lose sight of why we became health care professionals in the first place. Always keep patient care at the heart of your vision. If patient care is your focus, it will be easier to stay on target with business and marketing decisions. Before making any big decisions, ask how the patient will be impacted. While some business decisions required for growth may create some pushback, others can be modified to produce a positive impact on the patient.
    2. Treat employees with respect and trust – One of the most significant downfalls for a business is a lousy employee. Even the best employees will get worn down over time if they are not treated with respect and trust. It is a fundamental human need to feel appreciated in our place of employment. If employees do not feel valued for their contributions, they will either find another place to work or do the bare minimum required, which adversely impacts the practice. Take care of employees, and they will take care of you.
    3. Solicit feedback – Each patient visit provides an opportunity to grow as a business. Implement a simple survey into your business practice that is immediately sent out after a patient leaves. The survey (couple questions max) should ask the patient to rate their experience and provide a place for open feedback. We recommend delivering surveys through marketing automation software that are sent through email automatically and without extra work for the staff. Review the data regularly and make adjustments as warranted. Don’t forget to ask patients to share their experience on sites like Facebook and Google by providing a direct link to simplify the process and improve conversions.
    4. Nurture referral sources – Referrals, whether from a patient or another provider, are extremely valuable and should be treated as such. Whenever possible, create a routine that honors referrals. This can be done by implementing a patient referral program where people receive a small thank you for their referral. Provider referrals should also be acknowledged. Send a card or pick up the phone and thank the provider for entrusting their patient to your care. This small effort can make a significant impact.
    5. Recognize excellence – Going back to the concept of treating employees with respect and trust, encourage excellence by publicly recognizing it whenever possible. Encourage employees to recognize excellence in each other and allow them to nominate one another for doing a great job. Create an environment that is positive and nurturing. Your patients will notice that your employees are happy, which is contagious!