Attracting patients is a key concern for doctors starting out in private practice and for those with established practices who want to increase the frequency of their practice sessions.
How are you attracting patients?
Marketing is essential to the success of any business, including private medicine. While unfamiliar to many doctors, it does not have to be complex or time-consuming. So here are some effective strategies to help promote your business.
The most effective way to expand your practice is through word of mouth and via existing patients, friends and family. Are your patients familiar with the full range of services you offer? Are they aware you are actively aiming to expand your practice?
Contented patients will automatically act as ambassadors and refer you to their friends and colleagues. It is also a good strategy to maximise communication with your colleagues – including GPs and specialist consultants.
Traditional marketing methods
With current focus firmly on the innovative world of digital marketing, it is easy to overlook tried and tested methods of promoting your practice.
- A brochure or simple flyer is a cost-effective marketing tool, which can be handed directly to patients and potential referees or simply displayed in your waiting room.
- Articles in relevant publications will enhance your reputation.
- Paper newsletters are another potent tool for marketing your practice; there are many available options once you start thinking creatively.
Check your online profile
Google your name and see what you find. Prospective patients will do this before they book their first appointment. It is vital to take control of your online presence.
Ideally, your website should be prioritised within any list of results. It is not necessary to pay for listings – there are numerous free directories featuring private doctors in London.
You should ensure your details are listed accurately and updated on each one of them. You may get mentioned on websites such as Mumsnet. While you cannot control this, you can engage with the process positively.
A website is an integral aspect of digital marketing and a powerful communication tool – allowing you to monitor, amend and update content as your practice develops. It is often the first port of call for potential patients and a vital component in promoting your unique expertise and services.
Fundamental technical components include:
- 24-hour email contact which is highly visible.
- well-designed, user-friendly interface.
- fully compatible with mobile device access.
Make it easy for potential patients visiting your site. Ensure your phone number and email are highly visible and facilitate this with a one-click appointment process.
Blogs are a vital tool in promoting your business and communicating positively with patients. Frequent blogging is a highly effective way of reassuring prospective and existing patients and letting them know what to expect when they book an appointment. By citing existing patients’ positive experiences, using real examples, you can ensure readers will have highly positive expectations.
Use social media to your advantage as part of your digital marketing strategy. It is a highly-effective way of driving patients to your website prior to booking an appointment.
By posting content related to your personality and practice, you can strategically attract more patients. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are all relevant in this field.
- LinkedIn is primarily used to network with colleagues and patients;
- Facebook to interact with patients and to perfect and control your public profile.
Speaking at conferences
Good speakers are continually in demand both nationally and globally. This could be an excellent opportunity to impart your expertise and expand your network.
- Speaking commitments require careful planning, both leading up and afterwards.
- Focused research to establish the right event, location and correspondence procedures would be logical first steps.
- Allow plenty of time for this process.
With careful planning, a successful event can yield productive results and, ultimately, bring you more patients. It does not have to be ambitious in scale; a well-planned social gathering can be very relevant – if you get the initial focus right.
- Think about your guest list, whether a small-scale occasion or a focused educational event with the aim of referring doctors.
- Allow plenty of time to choose the right venue and location, appropriate catering and, crucially, allow sufficient notice for your guests to plan their attendance.
To summarise: authenticity is always a good strategy – use the marketing tools you feel most comfortable with – but do not be afraid to branch out. Good luck.
Talk to us about how we can help attract new patients. We have a team dedicated to marketing private medical practice and have a wealth of experience for you to tap into. Call us today 020 7952 1460 or via send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Managing Director Jane Braithwaite regularly writes for the Independent Practitioner Today and her latest series entitled Private Practice Growth Guide is a must read for anyone looking to attract more patients and increase the frequency of practice sessions.
Running a private medical practice involves more than just clinical activities. It’s crucial for consultants and managers to stay up to date on any changes to relevant regulations, such as the new General Data Protection Regulations, coming into effect in May 2018. It is also vital that the activities of the practice are conducted in line with guidance from the authorities (such as the GMC and the BMA). Services need to be marketed appropriately, especially when growing a practice. This week, we’ll be taking a look at what needs to be considered when assessing and implementing your private practice’s medical marketing and social media strategy.
A cost-effective medical marketing method, a huge part of many people’s lives, and a main way of communicating for many businesses. However, for doctors there are issues that need to be kept in mind when communicating in a professional capacity with patients, clients and colleagues over social media. These platforms are easy to use and can generate great levels of interested in your practice, but there are guidelines that need to be followed in relation to their ethical use.
- Confidentiality – GMC guidelines state that doctors must be honest in all communications with patients, clients and colleagues. When using social media doctors need to be aware that a patient’s network may be able to see any communications between the two parties – confidentiality, therefore, is key.
- Stay professional – Act with integrity, be honest and be trustworthy. As well as being good rules to play by in business, doctors are professionally obliged to act in this way in line with good medical practice guidelines.
- Know your sites – Designated Medical’s MD, Jane Braithwaite, has written previously about the need to understand social media. Facebook and Twitter are of course two of the most popular sites for businesses and are the best platforms to use to connect with potential patients and clients, with LinkedIn providing a channel for communications with colleagues primarily.
Doctors need to assess the possible risks when using social media, and have a good understanding of the fact that misusing this tool could impact adversely on patient-doctor relationships and your professional reputation.
Medical marketing & advertising
The use of social media may involve more than just communicating with patients. As mentioned above, it is also a great tool for marketing and for advertising your practice. However, there are GMC guidelines to keep in mind for this area, too:
- Any adverts for your practice must be factual and should not take advantage of your patients’ lack of medical knowledge.
- The marketing of certain services and specialities is subject to specific guidelines. For cosmetic surgery, for example, surgeons need to make sure that their marketing makes it clear that a medical assessment will be conducted before any treatments are carried out. Treatments and services cannot be offered as prizes, and surgeons must be upfront about the results of any cosmetic procedure. This is crucial in terms of managing patient expectations.
Our team at Designated Medical know how important it is to work within these guidelines. As part of our thorough induction process are required to read and sign our in-house medical marketing and social media policy. We also have a talented digital marketing team, who specialise in social media strategy and management and search engine optimisation. You can read more about the services available here.
For more information about how we can help you grow your practice through online marketing contact us here or call 020 7952 1008.