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 reaching and building relationships with patients.
There are numerous articles that discuss how healthcare is different from other industries. Healthcare outcomes are uncertain, nonprofit and third-party payors dominate the industry, and the product itself – healthcare – can be vague. But that’s where the differences end. Healthcare consumers – and we are all consumers – have expectations. We expect great customer service and outcomes, we want value in the delivery of the care we receive and we want healthcare services to make our life easier.
As a medical and healthcare marketing company with over 20 years of experience, we have seen a significant change in how healthcare is “done.” Some of the changes are quite positive, and some are cringe-worthy. Here are five tips every healthcare business should start doing to successfully market their practice in today’s business landscape.
Disclaimer: While these tips are directed to healthcare businesses, they are applicable to every industry.
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. The result is that we lose sight of why we became healthcare 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, consider how the patient will be impacted. While some business decisions required for growth may create some pushback, others can be modified to positively impact the patient.
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 you don’t treat them 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. The energy of a toxic workplace can be palpable – even by patients. Take care of employees, and they will take better care of your patients.
Each patient visit provides an opportunity to grow as a business. Implement a simple survey into your business practice that is automatically sent out after a patient leaves. The survey should be a couple of questions at most. We find response rates are highest if the questions include a star rating system and then a place for additional feedback. The best and easiest scenario is to have the emails sent directly through your EMR every day. Even better, have the surveys linked to your Google Business account. Local listings show up on top of the first page of Google results, so the more 5-star reviews you have, the better your practice will appear to potential patients. Review survey data regularly and make adjustments as warranted.
Nurture referral sources.
Referrals, whether from a patient or another provider or business, are extremely valuable and should be treated as such. Whenever possible, create a routine that honors and cultivates referrals. People refer to those they know, like, and trust. Building relationships with referral sources takes time but is a critical part of running a healthy business. Consider implementing a patient referral program, where people receive a small thank you for their referral or are entered into a drawing for some swag from your office. A great prize is a quality, reusable water bottle with your logo proudly displayed. 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.
Going back to the concept of treating employees with respect and trust, encourage excellence in each employee by publicly recognizing them 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!