Managing Your Practice

Four pillars of a successful practice: 2. Attract new patients

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By enhancing your speaking and writing skills and implementing them strategically, you can effectively draw new patients to your practice


 

External marketing is nothing more than making potential patients aware of your service and areas of expertise. The public truly does not mind marketing, as long as it believes you are communicating useful information and providing value. Nevertheless, such marketing—getting the word out to the public and potential referring physicians—takes some physicians out of their comfort zone. Some doctors think that marketing is synonymous with advertising.

The truth is, you can make the public aware of your services and expertise in an ethical and professional fashion without spending large amounts of money on advertising or hiring an expensive consultant.

How?

The essence of external marketing is writing, speaking, and making use of the Internet. In this article, I review simple, inexpensive techniques to increase your visibility among your peers and in your community. These techniques do not require additional staff or anything more than minimal assistance from your hospital’s public relations and marketing departments and the creation of a few PowerPoint slides that will hold the attention of your audience. A future article will describe Internet marketing strategies.


Try your hand at public speaking

Few of us are natural-born orators, but if you get started on the speaking circuit and acquire effective skills, you’ll be amazed at the demand for your presentations and the commensurate number of new patients filling your appointment book. When you take your message to the podium, audiences have an opportunity not only to learn more about your medical topic and how it applies to their health and wellness, but also to interact with you before and after the presentation.

Most of us have been asked to give a presentation to a lay audience at some time or another. How many of us have set off with a PowerPoint presentation from a pharmaceutical company that contains information far too technical for a nonmedical audience? Is it any wonder that so few talks motivate new patients to call our practices?

How to get invited to speak at local events

Even if you have a knack for public speaking, you still need to generate invitations for speaking engagements. I systematically contact meeting planners at various churches, service organizations like the Junior League, women’s book clubs, and patient advocacy groups, such as the American Cancer Society and American Diabetes Association. A list of these organizations and clubs can be obtained from the Chamber of Commerce in your community.

When I began public speaking, I created a public relations packet and sent it to meeting planners in the community. The packet contained a brief biography that outlined my credentials, listed organizations or groups to which I have given talks in the past, and provided a few testimonials from previous audience members. I also included a fact sheet (see the box on this page) and several articles on the topic to be covered. The articles were written by me for local outlets or written by others for publication in national magazines or other lay publications.

After I delivered a talk, I hung around to answer questions. I also made sure to have plenty of business cards to hand out, as well as my practice brochure and articles that pertained to the topic I had just presented.

Sample fact sheet on a possible support group or public speaking topic

Overactive bladder: You don’t have to depend on Depends!

Overactive bladder is a common disorder that affects millions of American women and men. Most people who have this condition suffer in silence and do not seek help from a health-care professional. The good news: Most sufferers can be helped.

Overactive bladder:

  • affects 33 million American men and women
  • can result in reclusive behavior
  • can be a source of tremendous embarrassment
  • can cause recurrent urinary tract infections
  • hinders workplace interactions
  • limits personal mobility
  • can cause skin infections
  • may lead to falls and fractures
  • may lead to nursing home institutionalization
  • is expensive—economic costs exceeded $35 billion in 2008.

Help is available. No one needs to depend on Depends!

If you would like additional information on this topic, or you are interested in having Dr. Neil Baum speak to your group about overactive bladder and other urologic problems, please call (504) 891-8454 or write to Dr. Baum at neilbaum@hotmail.com.

Don’t overlook support groups and group appointments

Conducting a support group is an excellent way to target a specific diagnosis or disease state. If you can identify women who have a chronic problem, such as pelvic pain, incontinence, or endometriosis, and invite them to a meeting, you’ll find that they appreciate your interest and expertise and often become patients in your practice. Women who attend these meetings get to know who you are, what you do, and where to find you.

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