Courageous Moments in Physician Marketing

courage over fear seesaw Not long ago I was speaking with a respected surgeon and thought leader about competition in healthcare. He brought home the idea that competition is indeed nerve-racking. In the practice of medicine and in business, you don’t have real competition unless there is an element of fear.

Two notions come to mind. The first is that doctors are a courageous lot in their everyday work. The typical responsibilities of a surgeon would be more than nerve-racking for most of us. (But they have decades of training and experience in what they do daily.)

Second, doctors are not fond of competition in the business of health care delivery. Their passion connects them to helping others, and generally, not in business rivalry…much less, taking up (marketing) arms in defense of their practice and what they do.

[bctt tweet=”Competition is nerve-racking. Facing real competition includes an element of fear.” username=”hcsuccess”]Nevertheless, competition in healthcare is a business fact of life that includes a dose of apprehension. As Dr. Thomas Lee, CMO at Press Ganey, pointed out in our recent podcast, there is a beneficial side to the dynamic of fear. “As unpleasant as it sounds, we do our best work when the stakes are high. Fear that you might lose business to someone else—because they’re doing a better job, or doing it more efficiently—inspires and motivates better performance.”

With that in mind, here’s a salute to the practitioners—those men and women we meet in business—who take up the multi-faceted challenges of increased competition in healthcare. Some real-world courageous moments:

  • There’s a lot at risk when a comparatively small practice dares to stand its ground; recruiting new physicians to grow in a service area that is dominated by a large multi-specialty medical group.
  • It is unsettling for a practice to face-off with an area hospital or health system that is rooted in a closed network of providers.
  • Sleep is lost over a shrinking referral stream; where new patients stay within a captured system.
  • Professional reputation is at stake when community awareness and online presence are almost non-existent.
  • The competition has the support of a large marketing department, and we have not had to promote our practice in the past.
  • And, with shrinking resources, how can a healthcare practice be assured that any marketing efforts are efficient, and that the Return-on-Investment is as strong as possible?

Everyone in business would like to “work smarter, not harder.” But for many individuals and organizations in healthcare delivery, it also takes courage to fight aggressive competition, grow the number of new patients, or attract the cases and practice mix you want.

In fact, for some, business survival is an ever-present risk. There is no easy or universal answer, but we can help with a marketing plan that reduces risk and successful achieves goals. Start here with a confidential assessment. Or give me a call at 800-656-0907.

FOR RELATED READING, see: The Short List of Why Healthcare Providers Market and What Doctors Fear Most About Their Own Advertising.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA


Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer & Creative Director at Healthcare Success
Over the years Stewart has personally marketed and consulted for over 1,457 healthcare clients, ranging from private practices to multi-billion dollar corporations. Additionally, he has marketed a variety of America’s leading companies, including Citicorp, J. Walter Thompson, Grubb & Ellis, Bally Total Fitness, Wells Fargo and Chase Manhattan. Stewart co-founded our company, and today acts as Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director. He is also a frequent author and speaker on the topic of healthcare marketing. His personal accomplishments are supported by a loving wife and two beautiful daughters.



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