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Healthcare Marketing to Protect Your Business from Recession, Healthcare Reform, Competition and Change

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Keeping the roof over your head when it looks like the sky is falling.

"Past," "Present," and "Future" text on road-sign arrowsA solid plan for healthcare marketing is a fundamental business tool for coping and succeeding in the face of healthcare reform and other changes. Competition has increased ...the roll-up trend created more groups...and economic pressures push down on reimbursement and elective care.

Here's a checklist of challenges and situations where marketing means business.

Ask one hundred people about what is going to happen and you'll hear at least one hundred different answers.

The operative word is "change," and in our experience, the only effective way to deal with change in any healthcare organization is to operate from the strength of a specific plan. That's true in business in general and no less so in medical practices, hospitals, for physicians, surgeons, dentists, and for healthcare organizations of all types.

What can cloud the horizon is that few physicians see themselves as business entrepreneurs. Like it or not, a healthcare organization is a small (sometimes not so small) company struggling with demanding economic and social forces in healthcare. Medical practice operating expenses have increased over 60 percent in the past eight-plus years. Insurance reimbursements have trended downward and discretionary (elective care) spending is increasingly cautious.

As further frustration, the competitive landscape in healthcare is challenging, particularly for the most sought-after, best-reimbursed cases. Many small practices are facing increasing competition from group practices and hospitals which may have larger marketing budgets. What's more, younger doctors–almost by necessity–are typically more aggressive and competitive than older colleagues.

Marketing is a fundamental business tool

Virtually all healthcare practices and businesses need to think about growth. Most have made dramatic changes to reduce costs and increase efficiencies, and for them, the "fat" is gone. And having a solid marketing plan is not an after-though, a 'nice to have,' a rainy-day option, or a second priority.

Effective and ethical marketing is a fundamental, priority business tool to deal effectively with change and to:

  • Achieve profitable practice growth
  • Attract cases that practitioners enjoy
  • Protect and grow market share against competition
  • Build the professional reputation of the practice with the community and peers.

You can have the most ideal healthcare enterprise on the planet, but without marketing, no one will know about it...and you really don't have a business at all. And you will not go far without a plan...if you don't know where you're going; any road will take you there.

Here's a checklist of some of common challenges in healthcare and reasons for marketing. Check all that apply:

  • Answer aggressive competition which has emerged in my area
  • Attract higher paying, elective and/or cash cases
  • Attract more cases that you enjoy or have special expertise
  • Be able to hire the right people
  • Become more profitable
  • Become recognized as a leader in my field or community
  • Bring cash or ancillary cases into the practice
  • Build a practice I recently joined or purchased
  • Build the organization's reputation (brand) for positive recognition
  • Build volume for new technology, equipment, procedures/services
  • Ethically attract cases that reimburse well
  • Grow your number of new patients
  • Increase revenues
  • Increase your marketing effectiveness
  • Move my office and/or add another office; assure all locations are successful
  • Multiply patient referrals
  • Reach more people to provide service to the community
  • Rebranding for better differentiation in face of change
  • Reduce my reliance on low paying insurances
  • Reduce over-reliance on a small number of referral sources
  • Spend more of my time as a doctor (not an administrator)\
  • Support new providers, new partners, new locations
  • Take more time off for family and/or other interests
  • Win at Internet Marketing
  • Win more doctor (or other professional) referrals
  • Work smarter not harder

Marketing means business

How many of these goals, visions, challenges have been keeping you awake at night? Marketing is one of your most important and effective business tools and the foundation for handling Healthcare Reform or other agents of change.

The worst thing to do in the face of change is... nothing.

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