by Natasha MohrMedicine is about helping people and improving patient lives. You provide services that will enhance and enrich the daily experiences of every individual who comes through your office. The work you do is important. These days, medicine is also a highly competitive business. And business is about making decisions that allow you and your team to thrive and experience a better quality of life as you serve others. Whether you’ve been established for 20 years or are new to the field, choose to raise your practice above the noise of the marketplace.
“In this culture of immediate gratification, results are expected — patient experience is the wild card.”Your patients are inundated with ads and information. Before coming in to see you, they’ve read every ‘relevant’ article online, talked to their friends, identified the brand name of the product they want, think they have a pretty good idea of exactly what you should be doing – and may even be so bold as to tell you. Couple that with that fact that your competition is often delivering the same services that you are and sometimes at a lower price, and it can seem downright difficult to market your practice. Patients – like many consumers today – are no longer simply seeking out services, they are seeking a relationship and an experience. As a result, running a successful practice is no longer only about what you do and how much you charge, but about the way you wrap the delivery. In this culture of immediate gratification, results are expected — patient experience is the wild card. You are a doctor, your patients expect you to deliver results. But their likelihood to return, to try new treatments and to refer others to your care comes down to how they ultimately feel about their experience with you. And you, your office, the treatments you offer, your communications and your staff – these are all a part of your brand. I’m not Starbucks or Nike – I practice medicine! Do I really need to think of my practice as a “brand?” Simply put, yes. Because building your brand enhances the relationships you have with your patients and your community by improving the way you communicate, collaborate and champion the experience and expertise of the care you provide. In turn, this will bring more patients to your office and help you to build a more successful practice. This seems overwhelming. Where do I even start?
“[Patients] are no longer simply seeking out services. They are seeking a relationship and an experience.”Branding is much more than a logo on a pen. It is a way of defining your business to yourself, your team and your external audiences – including potential patients. One of the benefits that a strategically defined brand can bring is the same as those which bring people together in friendship or a relationship: emotional connectivity. In the business world, when customers connect on an unconscious or emotional level – often because they share the same values and beliefs of a brand – it leads to higher sales and better brand differentiation. It also leads to customer loyalty and brand advocacy (i.e. sharing with friends). Additionally, it can help protect pricing in times when competitors rely on promotional discounts to drive sales of cosmetic treatments. Brand loyalty can also provide the ideal platform from which to expand the services you offer in your clinic as you then already have a base of customers who trust you to provide them with valuable and effective treatments, products and services. As a small practice or even as a solo provider, you may be competing against big groups or practices with huge numbers of patients. That’s why you have to find ways to differentiate – with a solid brand of your own. To do this, you must start by identifying what is at the core of all that you do and what you want to be known for.
Determine your area of expertise.What is your area of expertise? Defining it will allow you to differentiate yourself in a loud marketplace. Review each service your clinic offers, pinpoint the space in the market it occupies and research the emotive and rational needs and concerns of your patients. Your brand character should promote your business, connect with your customer base and differentiate you in the market.
Creating Vision, Mission and Values StatementsEach physician is an individual whose character is made up of beliefs, values and purposes that define who we are and with whom we connect. And who we are grows and changes over time and is influenced by our experiences. Your practice – your brand – is the same way. Over the years, you’ve come to understand yourself as a physician differently than when you first entered medical school. Additionally, your personal circumstances have changed, as have your family, your passions and your interests. Defining your purpose for practicing medicine and articulating it in such a way that it can be easily communicated will help you to prioritize your energies in your practice and help your potential patients know that you are a physician with whom they can connect to address their concerns. If you have found a passion and skill for conducting Mohs surgery, are adept at executing reliable studies on new drug treatments or have discovered your artistic side by employing neurotoxins and fillers, then by all means share this! Your staff will by inspired to help you achieve your goals and potential patients will want to be seen by a physician who loves what they do and has become an expert in that area. A vision statement is a practice’s road map, indicating both what you want to become and serving as a guide for transformational initiatives by setting a defined direction for growth. A mission statement defines the goals, ethics, culture and norms for decision-making. A well-developed mission statement is a great tool for understanding, developing and communicating fundamental patient care objectives, and should be expressed in just a paragraph or two. Lastly, articulate and define the values statement for your practice. A values statement expresses the operating philosophies or principles that guide an organization’s internal conduct, as well as its relationship with its patients and partners.
“…differentiate yourself in a loud marketplace.”Here are some examples: Practice A: Vision: “Be the most trusted Mohs surgery provider in the tri-state area.” Mission: “Supporting skin cancer awareness efforts in the region and providing outstanding preventative resources to educate patients and the community, while delivering exceptional care for skin cancer patients from start to finish.” Values: Precision, conscientiousness, education, community, loyalty Practice B: Vision: “To provide patients with the most advanced treatment options for all of their dermatologic concerns while employing a holistic approach to patient care.” Mission: “Deliver highly individualized treatment plans for all patients in partnership with their other health and wellness providers.” Values: Transparency, partnership, integrity, sustainability, open-mindedness Practice C: Vision: “To be the region’s leading group of aesthetic healthcare providers.” Mission: “Deliver highly individualized treatment plans for all patients in partnership with their other health and wellness providers.” Values: Innovation, creativity, patient experience, results, aesthetics Practice D: Vision: “To be noted experts in addressing skin concerns for patients of color.” Mission: “Actively pursue the cutting edge of new and efficacious treatment protocols for patients of color across the spectrum.” Values: Authenticity, curiosity, innovation, responsibility, respectfulness
“The goal is to differentiate yourself from the competition.”Once you have your statements articulated, you are ready to move on. Check your inbox or our website on Thursday (June 1), for our next post and a step-by-step guide to implementing your vision and building a strong, identifiable and successful brand!