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Rethinking Healthcare Marketing: What Would You Do If You Could Not Fail?

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

doctor looking at the camera[The second of two articles. Our previous post identified The 4 Biggest Reasons to Rethink Everything About Healthcare Marketing.]

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”  In just 13 words, motivational speaker, pastor and author Robert Schuller presents a clean-slate approach to goals, priorities and actions.

Some of the most rewarding goals are risky. Physicians and healthcare providers understand that there is a risk/reward equation present in every patient encounter. And healthcare marketing is not without some element of business risk.

In general, there are two options in rethinking and redefining your healthcare marketing plan. The first of these would be to do nothing in the belief that inaction has no downside. The reality is that doing nothing (a) has no reward, (b) inaction benefits the competition, and (c) your situation or circumstances worsen.

The other alternative is to devise and institute a plan of action that minimizes risk. A carefully considered and resource-conscious marketing plan can embrace the significant elements of change discussed in our previous post, and successfully attract patients and increase revenue and profits.

Some (but not all) medical marketing strategies to seize opportunity today…

  • Deeply understand what the consumer needs and expects. The empowered and engaged patient (healthcare’s new consumerism) primarily determines the healthcare services to provide and promote. Step away from a physician-centered perspective (what you want to sell), and be guided by what the patient-centered orientation says the consumer wants to buy—then deliver it.
  • Embracing Internet marketing has two big rewards. The common fears about doctors, hospitals and healthcare marketing online—HIPAA, confidentiality, compensation, time management, and constrained resources—are legitimate, but quite manageable. Chief among the value of working through these issues is that your prospective patients are already online. No disrespect intended, but the business adage goes, “If you want to catch fish, fish where the fish are.”

An additional benefit here is that an active online presence puts you ahead of the competition. Only a few marketing savvy practitioners and hospitals aggressively use their website, blog, Facebook page, pay-per-click advertising and social media to proactively engage patients. As an example, Patients Want Online Appointment Scheduling, but Few Medical Providers Claim this Marketing Differentiation.

  • Give leadership to an office culture of patient-centered service and satisfaction. The most successful physicians and surgeons that we know are both exceptional clinicians and outstanding leaders. It may be difficult for some office cultures to recognize and disconnect from the white-coat-and-ivory-tower mindset. But creating patient-centric office environment begins with the principal provider. As does the boss, so does the staff. What’s Your Plan for Leadership, Culture and Training?

The payoff for “rethinking everything” is that your hospital or medical practice marketing is significantly better prepared to work successfully in a healthcare delivery system that struggles to reinvent itself. As we approach the 2014 launch of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, your healthcare and hospital marketing plan has to be more than, “same-stuff-new-year.”

There is more to this concept than fits in these two articles. Nevertheless, challenge yourself to rethink everything about healthcare marketing.

[SEE ALSO: Our previous post on this subject, The 4 Biggest Reasons to Rethink Everything About Healthcare Marketing, is available online here.]

Lonnie Hirsch

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