The deceptively simple concept of “breaking bread” is actually a powerful healthcare marketing tool. It’s an idea that seemingly has little connection with hospital or medical practice marketing. But the reality is that people bond over food, and here is how physicians, administrators, physician liaison representatives and others can make more effective use of “food power.”
Although there are many marketing and public relations reasons for sharing a meal, for purposes of this post, let’s consider the connection with a professional referral system. In healthcare marketing, professional referrals seldom, if ever, materialize out of thin air or among strangers.
Doctors and staff members will refer to people and provider practices that they trust. Professional referrals happen in situations where the parties like each other and where they have a sense of competence and confidence. And—to our point—a trusting relationship is nurtured by sharing a meal.
Why is there bonding power in food? There are several theories, but clearly, some form of positive connection and chemistry often comes from sharing a meal. By one philosopher’s account, “The table is one of the most intimate places in our lives. We invite our friends to become part of our lives. Every breakfast, lunch, or dinner can become a time of growing communication with one another." But that, as they say, is the good news.
On the other hand many professionals resist the idea of “doing lunch.” Physicians, surgeons or office administrators are busy. Everyone’s busy. It seems that nobody has time for lunch anymore, especially if there’s a concern about feeling like a “sales encounter.”
Here are four tips about getting past resistance, making a connection and having a positive experience when physicians connect with colleagues or representatives to connect with doctors or staff: