Two gastroenterologists share their thoughts on the most effective marketing strategies for GI practices.
Ask a Gastroenterologist is a weekly series of questions posed to GI physicians around the country on business and clinical issues affecting the field of gastroenterology. We invite all gastroenterologists to submit responses. Next week's question: Do you think colonoscopy and other GI procedures are a good fit for a bundled payment model?
Patrick Takahashi, MD, CMIO and Chief of Gastroenterology Section of St. Vincent Medical Center (Los Angeles): Marketing a gastroenterology practice is not difficult at all. Most physicians like to think they are doing an excellent job. Often times it is as simple as getting the practice to market itself, as patient word of mouth spreads to family members, friends and other acquaintances. That extra minute spent handing over a pamphlet discussing the significance of polyps discovered during colonoscopy can go a long way towards a satisfied patient and flourishing practice. More and more physicians are prescribing to medical databases on the internet and allow themselves to be reviewed, opening up further doors. Even Yelp can provide another means of a referral source.
Traditional means of marketing a practice have been supplanted with the growth of the internet. By maintaining a website, one can provide pertinent information to prospective patients, including facts about the practice, insurance plans accepted and even services offered such as a patient portal. Procedures can be described to patients with accompanying short clips of video. What to expect from a bowel preparation and how to take the preparation will give peace of mind to those prospective patients who are looking to come in for screening colonoscopy evaluation. Technology has allowed more patients to become savvy and involved in their healthcare decisions at a level never seen previously. Business cards can display a website address, a Yelp review site, etc. to help clue patients in to your services.
Similarly, I find that performing periodic reviews of insurance websites ensures that patients are in tune with the plans accepted at your practice. With financial stringency as the norm these days, this is often times the limiting factor. If you aren't listed on your insurance carriers' websites due to a clerical area, who knows how many patients that accounts for.
Electronic health records have become more sophisticated in the way in which data can be reviewed. Whereas a patient portal can be beneficial to prospective patients, referring physicians can also be given access to their patient's data through links provided by the rendering physician. This is a great selling point to referring physicians who are able to review procedure findings, diagnostic tests, as well as office visits at leisure. This convenience factor will continue to manifest itself and allow for continued growth of a practice if managed correctly.
Leonard B. Weinstock, MD, Specialists in Gastroenterology (St. Louis): There are several unique ways to market your practice. One is to push the internet envelop. We have spent a lot of time developing our website as an educational tool for patients. A recent article came out on line that education on line for colon cancer was lacking. I get one to two new patients per day that say they found me on line and were impressed with our social networking. It is valuable to highlight your research efforts and publications. We also had a photographer come in and take a one minute video of each doctor giving an introduction to people and a bit of their philosophy. New patients get to know who you are before stepping foot into your door.
More Articles on Gastroenterology:
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The Growing Role of Biologics in Gastroenterology
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