The incomes of many medical practices will be impacted as the healthcare industry continues to go through its own changes and new payment patterns begin to evolve; the result could be a stagnation or decline in the revenue streams of some practice units. Therefore maintaining and growing revenues will most assuredly become a priority for many medical offices. How a practice markets itself will depend on whether it is a primary-care practice or a referral-based practice. Regardless of the specific type of practice, some marketing efforts are common to all medical practices. Some of these strategies can be adopted by other health care providers as well.
Internal Marketing Strategies
Most internal marketing strategies a medical practice can adopt are common sense, but sometimes their importance is understated. The internal decor, behavior of the staff members, and policies of the practice must create a friendly and professional impression in the minds of its patients and referring physicians.
As a bare minimum, the following questions should be answered during analysis of the internal office environment:
1. Is the reception area comfortable for the patients? or do the patients feel like they are sitting in a morgue?
2. Are patients provided with activities, such as a television or magazines, while they wait for their appointments?
3. Do the patients have to wait a long time in the reception area for their appointments?
4. Is the front-desk staff courteous and willing to help the patients and the offices of the referring physicians?
5. How do the nurses and other clinical staff treat and interact with patients? Do they go out of their way to help patients? Are they friendly and composed? How helpful are they over the telephone?
6. Are the office’s policies and procedures creating bad impressions?
7. Are thank-you cards for new patient referrals; both to physicians and patients; routinely and consistently mailed out?
8. Does the physician spend adequate time with the patients in the exam rooms?
9. Does the office have a recall system? Many primary-care practices lose revenue simply because they do not have a system in place that will prompt patients to come back to the office for visits.
I'll talk about some external marketing strategies in Part II of this discussion.