Part 3 of 3
by Scott Mosley, Vice President of Strategy
In blog posts the past two months, I outlined the first two of five strategic focuses as the foundation for effective physician marketing.
I’ll address the final three of these in this follow-up post.
Strategic Focus #3
It is apparent that physicians and practice administrators are looking to their hospital partners for support in staying current on healthcare issues. They value well-designed educational pieces and are seeking credible information which can benefit their practice and bring value to their patients.
They are looking to hospitals for proactivity in pushing information out to them in a concise, focused manner, respecting the volume of information they face on a daily basis. Physicians assess the value of information on its usefulness in helping them care for their patients or develop their practice. Practice administrators value information which informs them of relevant changes within the health system, helps them steer and coordinate referrals and deal with key issues related to the efficient operation of the practice.
Physicians and practice administrators see value in hospital-sponsored educational sessions as long as their content is substantive, timely and of direct relevance to their practice’s administration or quality of patient care. There is diminishing interest in socially-oriented gatherings, particularly on the part of younger professionals facing the pressures of building practices.
Strategic Focus #4
Hospital marketers are often surprised by limited familiarity with the print and electronic publications over which they labor so diligently. Physicians do not invest time in sifting through hospital publications to see if there may be something of value for them. Most of their communication is done from a smart phone or other hand-held device which usually makes it difficult to view attachments.
Practice administrators are more open to receiving periodic publications but also urge their hospital partners to keep it short and simple, providing a contact resource should additional information be needed. Providing access to medical news (i.e. that provided through MGMA and specialty organizations) is usually viewed as a valuable gesture. We find that ListServs for local practice administrators are generally welcomed and can establish an electronic “community” of hospital-affiliated practice administrators.
An e-newsletter obviously provides the hospital with a link to their physician practices, but making the content relevant and easy to consume, with links to more detailed information, is of paramount importance. Practice administrators often suggest archiving high-value digital information in an accessible location to access as needed.
Healthcare organizations are also finding value in the use of social media platforms for the distribution of information to engaged medical partners. This type of digital platform has been used to support communication between hospitals and patients, but is now being used as a way of engaging members of the medical community.
Healthcare organizations are also investing in the development of web portals specifically designed to place information literally at the fingertips of their provider partners, addressing the challenge of leveraging the considerable investments already made in health information technology solutions to accommodate more fluid communication.
Strategic Focus #5
Credible data is the foundation on which any solid marketing program is built. The specific data to be collected should be determined by the need for the following perspective.
Current Medical Staff Profile – A careful inventory of physician resources across the scope of the health system helps identify and prioritize opportunities associated with shifting dynamics/alignments within the medical community, the entrance and exit of physicians practicing within the market, gaps in service offerings and clinical competencies and practice growth opportunities.
Current Utilization Trends – A routine examination of utilization trends is an important element of the physician marketing information platform. The goal is to proactively assess, in as current a context as possible (not retrospectively), emerging trends in utilization patterns so as to pose informed questions about prospective issues at a point where they can be proactively addressed.
Opportunity Assessment – With this base of information at hand, the challenge becomes identification and prioritization of opportunities to either enhance business relationships and utilization patterns or head-off a negative trend with proactive administrative outreach. In highly-effective organizations, this process is hardwired into the administrative routine, as a vital element of the organization’s marketing program.
Medical Staff Perceptions – Remaining attentive to shifting perspectives of physicians and other members of the medical community provides a valuable leading barometer, useful in defining current priorities and forecasting future engagement opportunities. The development of engaged relationships requires continuous awareness of prevailing sentiments on key issues and a periodic, more formal assessment of trends in awareness, attitudes and preferences.