Saturday, May 12, 2012

So, how do you market the employed physician?

With a dynamically changing healthcare industry, employment of physicians is making a big comeback to the hospital industry. Born of necessity, hospitals and physicians are being driven by reimbursement declines, effectiveness and efficiency pressures, retail clinic competition and new opportunities. The drive to create ACOs in a value-based payment environment demands a different type of physician relationship. 

With this new opportunity to reinvent, revitalize and recapture what previously before had been an adventure on the part of hospitals with mixed results, it's time to discuss how one goes about marketing the employed physician.

First break from the past......

It's easy to look at this and say we'll just do what we did in the past in promoting employed physicians and be done with it. That is a dangerous mistake. Healthcare consumers/patients are making physician choices based price, location and convenience due to increasing co-pays and rising deductibles. If you're just going to throw some ads out there with a picture of a nice smiling doc with copy written in the third person about how wonderful and compassionate he or she is, you can expect dismal marketing failure.

What is needed is a new look at what you are doing and changing to meet the needs of your healthcare consumer, not you.

With great change comes great opportunity. That is if one is willing to embrace that change and find new ways of moving forward and creating value.

Your Brand. Your Value. The Patient Experience.

You need to communicate very strongly your brand and brand promise you are associating with the employed physician. Bring your brand to the forefront and brand the doc to you.  They represent your brand at an individual level. Capitalize on that opportunity and leverage.

Communicate the value that this physician brings to your community and the healthcare consumer. Communicate the value that the doctor brings to your brand. Stop talking at people, talk to them. Talk to them with compelling value driven reasoning why they should select that doctor, or even why they should even considering switching physicians.

Pay attention to the patient experience. How long is the patient waiting? is your web site easy to use. Can they schedule appointments online? How are they greeted? View the patient experience from beginning to end at ever touch-point along the continuum. Remember, a consumer is only a patient one-third of the time they interact with your physicians. Before care and after care, they are consumers, evaluating their experience with you at very touch-point that they come in contact. And just because you have high patient satisfaction results, that doesn't equate to a grand overall experience.

Stop wasting your money putting ads in papers that expect people to take action simply because the doctor is on your medical staff or in one of your buildings. That treats the healthcare consumer like they are idiots. They're not. They are demanding value and acknowledgement that they have a say in what's going on. If you won't meet their needs they will go somewhere else.

If you're not communicating value and what's in it for them for selecting your physicians, then you can put it in the bank that the healthcare consumer will pass on by and go where they perceive the value to be greatest for them in line with the price they are paying.

In the end, it's all about knowing what consumer/ patient needs are and delivering that in a convenient location at a price point that is affordable. If you think this is crazy, then why are the retail clinics taking you to lunch?

Michael Krivich is an internationally followed healthcare marketing blogger with over 4,000 monthly pages views in over 52 countries worldwide. He is founder of the michael J group, a healthcare marketing consultancy dedicated to creating value through strategic marketing for hospitals and health system regardless of payment mechanism, either fee-for-service or value-based to increase market-share, revenue , brand and demonstrate actual return on marketing investment. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.

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