This post is an update of a post originally created in 2014.
Like any other business, medical practices are facing changing times, not only in terms of technology but also in terms of patient acquisition and increasing competition.
In general, twenty percent of patients (the “customer base”) generate eighty percent of a practice’s income. But, the majority of those key patients are no longer coming from primary-care referrals, as they once used to. As large practices and hospital groups buy up many of the small practices throughout the United States, referral sources are drying up.
Specialists need to consider a new approach to keep their practices active and generating new business. More and more, patients are relying on word of mouth and online research to find a specialist.
There are numerous ways, of course, to attract their attention. Newspapers, TV ads, billboards – they can all create a large impression on your community, but will patients remember your name when they are ready to schedule an appointment? What’s more, will they know how to find your phone number or location?
A website utilizing inbound marketing (content optimized for search engines and for people) helps catch patients’ attention at their time of need. Your online presence is the piece of the marketing puzzle that moves patients from considering action to connecting.
The Three P’s (And Why We Call Ourselves P3)
After 15 years of creating websites for doctors, we continually stress the importance of the three P’s to doctors: Patients, Pathologies, and Procedures.
It’s possible to have a website with plenty of traffic and still not have patients – or right kind of patients – for your practice. You need to consider the patients, pathologies, and procedures for which you wish to be known.
Before you come up with a marketing plan, you need to figure out who your patients are. You can’t effectively market to a group of people without getting to know your demographic first. If you’re an orthopaedic practice focusing on sports medicine, then athletes are your demographic. If your practice focuses on joint replacements, your demographic is probably the 50+ crowd. If you are a podiatrist who specializes in diabetic foot care, then diabetic patients are your primary demographic.
And so on.
The point is, each of these demographics have different interests, and different things will catch their attention. You need to tailor your marketing efforts to your target demographic if you want to be successful. For a younger demographic, that might mean focusing more on social media. For an older audience, that could mean focusing more on getting out in your community, like participating in local news segments and health fairs. But you won’t know unless you do the research.
While you may be able to treat a full range of orthopaedic, podiatric, or neurological conditions, being a generalist is an easy way to get overlooked these days. This is especially true if you are located in a large market. There is a good chance that there are certain pathologies that you really enjoy treating, so why not focus on that?
Focusing your marketing efforts on the pathologies you most want to treat will help you get more of the patients seeking that type of treatment. It’s a win for you, and a win for the patient. It helps you stand out from more general practitioners.
Just as you have certain pathologies you enjoy treating, you probably also prefer certain procedures over others. There may also be procedures that you perform that other specialists in the area do not. If you have specialized training in a new procedure, that can give you a big advantage over your competitors if you market it correctly. Often, patients are searching for a particular procedure or treatment for a particular pathology, rather than a specific doctor. They want the doctor who is best equipped to help them with their problem. You can demonstrate your expertise by differentiating yourself from competitors with your marketing efforts.
Do your marketing efforts convey your three P’s to the public? If not, it’s time to try a new strategy.