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Your Case to Outsource Doctor Marketing…or Not

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Person drawing a thinking bubble with "Outsourcing" text on a deskThere are times when medical practices should get help with their doctor marketing and advertising from a specialist. There are appropriate occasions, and valid business reasons to outsource professional support. To illustrate, consider this parallel illustration from the healthcare profession.

A friend of mine has the greatest respect for his doctor…and for good reason. It seems the GP—an experienced and credentialed internist—detected a potentially serious health issue during a routine physical exam. Although there were no apparent symptoms, the patient saw a specialist, had a relatively simple (if there is such a thing) surgery, and recovered fully.

This sort of thing happens all the time among physicians and healthcare providers. The generalist offers an initial diagnosis, and, when appropriate, the specialist provides the care. For as obvious and routine as that is in medicine, there are times when providers, practice administrators and internal decision-makers fail to reach out for external help with marketing and advertising.

General practice physicians and medical specialists deserve the highest respect for their daily work in (a) the care of their patients, and (b) the business operations of their practice.

Appropriately, a typical office will have the internal (staff) talent onboard for bookkeeping, coding and billing, appointment setting, reception, phone duty and a dozen other skill sets. Then there are other times when short-term business needs require a CPA for tax preparation, or retain an outside firm for Human Resources administration.

But, when it comes to marketing the medical office…

Perhaps the most common reason that a doctor’s office neglects to outsource all or part of the marketing function is a false sense for economy that “doing it ourselves” is cheaper. Good, but misguided intentions aside, the most common outcome is that it doesn’t get done and the results are zero.

In our experience working with medical practices throughout the US, here are several important considerations and guidelines that make the case for outsourcing doctor marketing…or not:

  • Save money; make money. The most precious commodity in operating a medical practice is time. External resources—for a brief term or for an extended term—are most beneficial when outside talent reduces demand on office time and produces a measurable Return-on-Investment through marketing and advertising. The ROI should exceed outsourcing cost.
  • The depth of multiple skill sets. Carefully selected outsourcing provides—through a single service agency—the creative talents and experience of many people. Your internal staff may include some select abilities, but a full-service company brings you many skilled specialists. Be certain that you’re not hiring too small or too large.
  • Specialized resources can leverage technology you don’t have. In addition to the creative talent side, outside resources have, for example, invested in hardware, equipment, software, research, performance analytics, trained and/or certificated personnel, business/media contacts and other technology that they bring to the table. Both client and healthcare advertising agency need to understand what’s available and how to leverage for greatest efficiency.
  • Avoiding legal, regulatory and novice mistakes. Healthcare marketing and advertising involves a complex process, and with it, a few risks. First-time, do-it-yourself marketing efforts can waste precious resources, and worse, can easily hit major potholes. Well qualified outside services bring you the benefit of their real-world experience. Another reason to check credentials, experience and performance before outsourcing.
  • Current knowledge and “what works” experience. Like most professions, healthcare marketing and advertising executives need to stay current with changes in media, technology, and the means and methods that produce results. An external resource will have an experienced understanding of your profession, and the ethical strategies and tactics that are most effective in reaching and attracting your target audience.

Outsourcing your doctor marketing efforts…

Establishing a working relationship with a healthcare marketing and advertising agency is often justified in times of change. Competition is increasing. Historic business levels are shrinking or suddenly expanding. You are involved in a merger, acquisition, sell-off or significant relocation. You need stronger growth and greater profitability.

There are dozens of short-term and long-term scenarios, where outside resources can effectively provide resources for a transitional period, or to achieve new goals and objectives. RELATED READING -- More on this topic is included in these informative posts:

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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