Friday, May 10, 2013

Reaching out to patients directly

Hospital CEOs are smart and understand that in order to fill their beds and to maximize their revenue, they need to reach out to patients directly. This is after all what marketing, advertising and branding is all about . However, these are expensive propositions – and though these traditional methods have been used for many years , they don't work well for multiple reasons. This is why lots of hospitals incentivize doctors to refer patients to them. This can be in the a form of kickbacks , cuts, “referral fees”, “assistant charges” “ medical consultant fees” or commissions . This works initially,  but is a broken model for multiple reasons .

For one thing the hospital is effectively signing away 10 percent of their profit to the doctor . Even worse, he's not likely to be loyal at all , because if another competing hospital offers 15 percent, the doctor will then start sending his patients to the other hospital !

CEOs realize that they need to establish a direct one-on-one relationship with their patients, rather than go through a middleman. This is a challenge,  and he needs to know how to do this cost effectively. After all , his priorities are to provide high quality medical care , and he has a limited budget . He has to chose how much money to spend on marketing, branding and advertising – and which channels to use . There are multiple opportunities , but because one of them is right under his nose, he often fails to see this !

When a patient is admitted, the focus is on providing good medical care. Unfortunately very little attention is paid to the needs, wants and desires of the people accompanying the patient – the patient's friends, relatives and neighbors who come to visit the patient in hospital . All these visitors are potential future customers and clients , because they're all going to fall sick at some point ! If they have a good experience when they come to the hospital as visitors, this will create a positive experience, so that when they fall sick at some point in the future, they're much more likely to choose this hospital , rather than go somewhere else.

What can the CEO do to make sure that all the visitors have a wow experience , so that they are happy to talk about how great the hospital is ? If we assume that the technical care which is provided by the medical staff is good , then you only need to do so basic simple stuff so that visitors feel like valued guests, rather than as barely tolerated pests !

However, because hospital CEOs are so focused on things like maximizing bed occupancy , keeping their doctors happy, and buying new equipment , that they don’t spend enough time thinking about what they can do to provide a better experience to the visitors who come to his hospital !

1 comment:

  1. DR.R.K.SHARMA12:52 PM

    Congratulations Dr. Malpani on this thought provoking write up.Indeed we all tend to neglect various aspects of marketing especially the Indirect one as you pointed out.
    Moreover as the whole world is changing fast & so does the technology.We must keep pace with it or be prepared to be left behind.It is high time we realized the immense potentials of this media in marketing at relatively inexpensive costs!


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