Recent figures from the MGMA indicate that owned physician practices by hospitals and health systems are losing an average of a $150K - $180K annually. The continuation of angst in leadership is a replay of the 90s when owning physician practices was all the rage. Funny, one would think that over time, the lessons of the past would make things different today.
And everyone knows these losses are unsustainable. There are of course many reasons for this, some are structural, some are organizational, some are cultural, some are management decisions made all playing a part in why the practice is losing so much money.
When you think about it, there is no one single strategy to make them profitable. It comes down to an integration of four strategies to lower the losses. Of these four strategies: improve the operational processes and workflow; develop financial management and collections process; management of ancillary and specialist referrals, so patients are not going outside the network; and building the practice through marketing, I will focus on the marketing.
But one of the contributing reasons to practice losses should never be because of bad marketing and business development. Sometimes, hospital leadership and practice management just need to get out of the way of marketing and business development and let them do their thing.
Medical practices are one of the few remaining opportunities to drive volume and revenue. The drive to create ACOs and networks in a risk-based or value-based payment environment demands a different type of physician relationship, but that doesn't mean ineffective marketing.
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.
A 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. Healthcare consumers/patients are making physician choices based cost, location and convenience due to increasing co-pays and rising deductibles. Stop the outbound interruptive advertising with a picture of a nice smiling doc with copy written in the third person about how the physician is wonderfully compassionate and caring.
Practice the three E's of physician marketing- Engagement, Experience, and Execution.
Communicate the values of the doctor. Answer the healthcare consumer’s and patients for that matter, the question of what is special about this physician and why should I select her or him? Stop talking at people, talk to them. Speak to them with compelling value driven reasoning why they should choose that doctor, or even why they should even considering switching physicians. No more doctors looking contemplatively skyward or ad copy that talks about them in the third person.
Employed physician marketing is perfect for inbound marketing techniques, SEO, blogging, social media.
Pay attention to the patient experiences. How long is the patient waiting? Is your website easy to use? Can they schedule appointments online? Can the patient receive texts and updates via a portal or email? How are they greeted? View the patient experience from beginning to end at every 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 at every touch-point that they come in contact.
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 for the cost and acknowledgment that they have a say in what's going on. If you don't meet their needs, they will go somewhere else.
Focus on executing the brand promise by meeting the engagement and experience expectations of the consumer and patient all the time, every time.
Value, value, and more value.
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 healthcare 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?
And the losses keep mounting.
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Tags: Value Marketing, Hospitals, Healthcare, Consumer, ACO, Marketing Physicians