When was the last time the owners of the office collaborated and seriously put forth a marketing plan designed to attract more patients to the practice? In many practices, physicians are very busy seeing and treating their patients and getting paid. Practices which employ administrators to help manage personnel and financial matters are, too, inundated reading and deciphering 5010 coding and recent complicated Federal and state legislation issues.
Decreasing revenues, patients, fluctuating cash flows and profitability are wide spread and on the minds of most managing partners. Practices need to realize that new and revitalized business and marketing approaches are needed in order to survive in today’s competitive medical practices. Recent patient surveys indicate patient loyalty and respect have declined causing some practices to release staff members, including physicians.
Designing medical practice marketing plans requires time, energy, purpose and expertise. Practices should first review reasons why patient volume is declining and why patients remain faithful to the practice. Reasons for either case might include the practice’s referral base or patients who refer neighbors and co-workers or a physician’s lackluster bedside manner. Other reasons could result from fewer insurance participations or a highly transient geographical area. But no matter the reason(s), patient surveys should be an integral part of everyday business along with statistical tracking all variables and they should be carefully monitored for appropriate actions.
The first step is making sure the practice’s insurance participation status is listed as a participating provider. Solo practices are particularly vulnerable, as some managed care plans will only contract with group practices.
Suggestions for Developing a Marketing Plan for Your Practice
Communicating with Patients
- Understanding the importance of the practice – What is unique, accomplishments about the practice or physicians
- Establish Target to a specific destination – Where do you see the practice – the target and market positions of practice
- Develop Marketing Plan (Goals, Objectives, Target(s), Expertise, Budget, etc.)
- Achieve High Levels of Efficiency – Patients seek high quality of care with fewest mistakes and waiting times – improve cash flow and profitability
- Utilize / Promote use of Website / Accessibility – patient data resources – scheduling
Remember – Marketing is either an investment or an expense. What determines either is the level of commitment of following a structured marketing plan. Make sure marketing plans are set and designed to attracting patients not providers while remaining actively involved in hospital activities.