Marketing Tips for Eye Doctors
Administrators and managing physicians often view marketing solely as advertising to attract new patients. Depending on the direction you want to take your practice, regular consistent marketing can increase your income, deter new competitors, retain market share, shift payer patterns, introduce new services, recruit new providers, enter new marketplaces or combat negative publicity.
A good management plan for your practice should include strategic planning, patient relations, insurance plan contracting, recall systems, practice hours, practice acquisition, office location and ancillary products and services. Here are some practical tips to help you point you in the right direction:
Tip #1 - Have a Written One-Year or Five-Year Marketing Plan
Practices with a plan typically out-perform practices without a plan. The first and most important part of a marketing plan is the goal, as it is a foundation for all the other decisions.
Tip #2 - Demonstrate Availability, Affability and Ability
Your patients are busy and require convenience. Scheduling is still the most important function in your office after the initial physician-patient contact, for patient-retention and new referrals.
- See new patients and referrals as soon as possible, preferably within the same week of the call.
- See patients on time.
We all prefer to interact with people we like so make sure everyone who interacts with your patients is friendly and pleasant.
- Address the patient by name.
- Make an effort to engage the patient in light conversation.
- Ask patients about their kids, work/school or the weather.
Tip #3 - Get Out in Public Again
One of the first, basic and most successful marketing techniques oftentimes ignored by maturing practices. Have your practice’s ophthalmologists meet and network with others. People refer first to people they know and like affability again.
Tip #4 - Keep Your Name in Front of Patients and Referrals
It is estimated that it takes five or more encounters with your practice’s name for it to be recognized. Your name should appear anywhere potential patients would look. That means listing information in all the appropriate categories of various publications, including the local phone book, ophthalmic directories, physician-listing services, the local paper and mailings to patients and local residents. Your practice’s name, address, phone number and Web address should also appear on every single piece of paper that leaves your office.
Tip #5 - Have an Appropriate Web Page
Build a web site that reflects the office brochure and patient-education materials, so that it serves as a destination-point for local patients in the process of making a choice among physicians. Make sure these potential-patients find your web address on all your print, ad and media materials. It is a good idea to provide patients with a method to communicate with your office, but make sure you are using a secure messaging service, not regular e-mail, so that your office continues to meet HIPAA compliance regulations.
Subspecialty practices that serve broader regions may consider web sites set up to draw patients directly to your practice, increase your visibility among ophthalmologists researching information or to stimulate referral requests.
Tip #6 - Maintain a Commitment to Quality
Focus on providing extraordinary service to patients to increase patient retention and patient referrals. Think about examples of extraordinary service you have experienced at other businesses and how those behaviors might be applied to your office. Particularly pay attention to how problems and disputes were resolved to your satisfaction. Examples might include resolving billing disputes or handling appointment tardiness that was not the patient's fault.
Tip #7 - Change Your Sign
If you have a free-standing sign in front of your practice, after a while it becomes invisible to passers-by who see it regularly. Changing the size, shape and/or color will attract more attention. You may get new walk-in patients asking, "I just saw your sign, how long have you been here?"
For more marketing tips like these, please read our blog - Directly Speaking