It's hard to turn on the television without being bombarded with dire news about the healthcare crisis. Costs are skyrocketing as the industry's credibility plummets. Now more than ever, physicians need to build customer loyalty to promote their medical practices. Some are promoting themselves as experts to their local media. Others, like Kenneth Cooper of the Cooper Institute in Dallas, are vertically integrating their practices in the "healthy lifestyle" market and combining with fitness centers. The keys are communicating clearly with and engaging patients.
Exceptional Customer Service
The cost to gain a new patient is five to seven times higher than the cost to maintain an existing one, according to Stephen Beeson, MD, author of "Practicing Excellence: A Physician's Manual to Exceptional Health Care." Therefore, it behooves medical practitioners to provide exceptional customer service. Unfortunately, while numerous studies have linked patient loyalty, satisfaction and profitability, a 2008 survey conducted by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation found that 40 percent of all patients said their doctors made them feel rushed, and 36 percent felt their physicians were rude or condescending. The study also noted that one dissatisfied patient will tell at least 25 people.
Today, most medical practices have a website, so it's important that yours is easy to navigate and it specifically targets your market. The website for UI Medical at One Tower Place in Indianapolis (indianapolisfamilymedicine.com) does exactly that. Medical Director Jeffrey A. Kons, MD said his group wants urban professionals to know they can get quality, same-day medical care just minutes from their offices. "When a sudden illness has you struggling to be productive at work, don’t lose half a day driving out to the suburbs for medical treatment," the website notes.
Dr. Paul Ehrmann, DO and founder of Family Health Care Center in Royal Oak, Michigan, got fired up about childhood obesity trends when he heard Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson speak about the problem, according to Prosper reporter Megan Pennefather. Ehrmann decided to be proactive about the problem and developed a pilot program called Health Education and Living (HEAL), a 90-day program designed to help patients with weight management, fitness and lifestyle modification. Tailored to individual needs, it includes nine office visits, health screenings and professional consults with dieticians and other healthy-lifestyle practitioners. Erhmann said he hopes to encourage other general practitioners to promote healthy lifestyles since they tend to have long-term access to patients.
Social Media Marketing
MacArthur Obstetrics and Gynecology in Irving, Texas, is growing its business through social media, according to USA Today. Clinic physicians use their Facebook fan page as a community bulletin board, posting articles and responding to patient inquiries. As of July 2010, the clinic had 600 Facebook fans and 1,600 Twitter followers. A recent Prudential Life Insurance survey predicts that social media will become more important as a marketing tool with clients born around the 1990s and later.
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