WHAT SOME DOCTORS LEARNED As a Result of COVID-19: When A Doctor Goes “Radio Silent” Patients Wonder Why and Leave the Practice.
By Michael Tetreault, Editor-in-Chief
We often receive calls, comments and emails from Direct Primary Care (DPC) Doctors asking ‘What can I do to increase my practices’ name recognition to obtain more new Patients?’
I find this is conversation usually goes one of two ways:
First, we talk about “being a star in your own backyard …” To us, this means discussions around local marketing, local community involvement, rotary participation in your community, non-profit branding and the like.
Or, second, the Doctor or office staff simply wants to know if their ideas are going to work or not.
We usually prefer the first conversation. Why? Because the Physician or office staff understands that there is absolutely no silver bullet for growing a medical practice. They also know that sweat equity gets the job done. It’s hard work acquiring a new patient and simply waiting it out … meaning, waiting for the next Patient to make a new referral to their practice is a fools errand. If you don’t believe me, ask your Physician neighbor whom you respect and see has a busier practice than yours or listen to the hundreds of interviews we’ve recorded with Doctors over the years at The DocPreneur Podcast.
Of course, building any subscription-based medical practice based today is hard. It is particularly challenging if you are in a rural area and price is your value proposition. Slogans, platitudes and recycled statements about how you have a medical degree and now you operate like a Netflix (ie. monthly subscription/membership) is a marketing strategy that all consumers are already quite familiar with.
The truth is, every new patient wants value and they want your time.
How can your put a price on that? Well, you already have.
If you ask most Doctors today ‘How do you market your practice or acquire new Patient subscribers?’
Most of the answers you will hear from your peers will sound something like this … ‘Most of my new Patients come from existing patient referrals.’
But when the rubber meets the road Monday morning and you’re left paying the bills on Friday … are you really willing to stake your career, your business, your practice and reputation on this one word … ‘Most.’
If and when you are talking to your peers and you hear the statement or something similar … ‘Most of my new Patients come from existing patient referrals.’ — politely finish the conversation and move on. When you don’t hear that statement from a peer or colleague, that’s when I really want you to lean-in, listen and get ready to take notes.
When you find one of your colleagues who is not and does not rely on Word of Mouth referrals … you know you’ve struck oil (so-to-speak).
Increasing your name recognition or brand in your local community isn’t easy. Successful medical practice owners understand that Word of Mouth marketing is great but it is only one aspect of the puzzle. Albeit an important one but you cannot and should not stand on simply one leg for too long. It is particularly head scratching to a DPC Doctor that is well-known market, but overtime is disappointed at the lack of referrals upon hanging the shingle of DPC outside his office.
So, what can a DPC Doctor do to increase new patient awareness, build your name recognition, and brand in your community? Here are a ten ways you can begin branding your DPC practice:
Six Ways to Brand Your DPC Practice
- Write and issue press releases to the “local” media about healthcare topics you are an expert on. This doesn’t mean find the largest newspaper in your city … find the local, small newspapers and weeklies that people in your community actually read.
- Regularly write and post press releases to your website about healthcare topics, not political rants.
- Beware of what you write on Twitter and DO NOT use profanity. This may seem silly, but for younger Doctors, you don’t have to be on social media very long to learn ‘what not to post.’
- Develop a relationship with your local HOA (Homeowners Association) Boards. Pitch them feature story for their community newsletters and suggest doing a free health education seminar at their local neighborhood club house. Oftentimes, these are great meeting places and they are free or cost very little. One we recently saw only cost the Doctor $150 to rent the club house for an entire day and he talked about heart attack and stroke prevention.
- Participate (attend, speak, host, present, show) in at least one local rotary or community event.
- Participate and sponsor local charitable efforts. One Physician we recently talked to supports her local pet rescue, donates her time and invites patients to volunteer time at the rescue as well. This activity makes for great social media posts and pictures!