March 26, 2018

Marketing Medical Groups: Your Front Door for Patients

Most health systems/hospitals have an affiliated and/or employed medical group. The exception is California, where the corporate practice of medicine prohibits employment of physicians by systems or hospitals.

Some medical groups are faculty models, while others are the result of groups that have merged under one umbrella, and can have primary care and specialty services as part of their cadre of physicians. What is true about all medical groups is that they are the front door to patients you want to attract to your system/hospital.

For many years, healthcare marketing focused on hospital-centric services. But with the growth of consumerism, the recognition of patient pathways and a focus on the patient experience, healthcare marketing must now focus on the front door: the physician’s office. Most patients will have 90 percent of their healthcare experiences in a physician’s office.

What is the impact for healthcare marketers?

  • For many healthcare marketers, this means moving from hospital-centric marketing to medical-group marketing. Access, convenience and a great patient experience are what patients want. Emphasize this in your messaging. Make it easy for them to be your patient.
  • Use Mystery Shopping to test the phones and visit the practices to assess the in-office experience. This kind of research is actionable and very helpful for both office managers and physicians.
  • Make sure your “Find a Doctor” profiles are as comprehensive and attractive as they can be. Patients know your physicians graduated from medical school, but do they also know about their extended office hours, or that they speak Spanish?
  • “New Movers” programs are important to attract new patients to your system. Many healthcare marketers send informational mailers to new movers about their hospitals so they remain top of mind when families are searching for a primary care doctor, or the location of urgent and emergency care centers.
  • National research says that at any given time, 10 to 20 percent of patients would switch to another doctor if they had a better option. Patient retention is a top priority because it is 10 times more expensive to attract a new patient than it is to keep a current patient.
  • Monitor your call center to understand what “kind” of doctors consumers are asking for—gender, specialty, age, etc. This will help with identifying physicians for marketing and recruitment.

Our agency has marketed many medical groups, and we have seen the huge impact consumerism has on messaging, tactics and media buying. With systems expanding their footprint into new geographies, systems must firmly establish their medical group as the preferred group, to ward off encroachment.

Our message is to embrace consumerism and to integrate it into your marketing.

  • Create a message that resonates with consumers. Present the benefit to them if they choose you, and do so in a compelling manner. It is all about them, not you.
  • Embrace digital marketing—consumers are digitally savvy.
  • Get your physicians active on social media and in their communities.
  • Include videos with physician profiles. Research shows that doctors with videos see about a 20 percent increase in referrals.

These are just a few of the marketing strategies we have used to build volumes and brand equity for systems. Let us help you open your front door to more patients.