Here are six ways that Dr. Rebecca Fox will market her new practice. She also shares tactics she won't be employing.
I have finally started seeing patients in my new pediatric practice using fee-for-service without insurance participation. It is growing slowly, but the word seems to be getting out and patients are seeking my help. I'm still learning about the new EHR as well as getting to know a whole new set of staff members. My website is in progress and I have already had several telemedicine "office" visits.
The next challenge for me is marketing my new practice. The following is a list of things I think will be useful.
1: Website Optimization: Get the website operational (update as needed) and make sure it is search engine optimized. For those that don't know this term, it is easy to have your practice show up early in a Google search, thus helping patients find you as a potential place to receive care. There can be a moderate fee for this service, but you will receive a huge return on investment. It is especially good if you are offering unique services and want to attract patients to your clinic.
2: Social Media: I maintain a Facebook page. I have yet to run ads on Facebook, although I am considering it. The key to a good Facebook page is to update it frequently and check for messages. I try to post some article, at least weekly, which may be of interest to my targeted patients. It's important to remember, however, that Facebook and other social media platforms are definitely not HIPAA compliant, so never give any medical advice (not even on the messenger or PM module). Any patients that have asked me medical questions are very understanding about my protecting their medical privacy.
3: Specialty societies and networks: I have made it a point to join whatever special organizations for the unique diagnoses that I want to attract. Patients and parents will search through lists of physicians on these websites for doctors that are conversant and willing to treat these conditions. Going forward, this may be a good resource. The only caveat to this approach is that once on these panels, it is very difficult to get yourself removed, should you decide to no longer pursue this type of patient.
4: Direct mail approach: I am planning on sending printed postcards to my previous patients with the special conditions that I will be treating, simply to inform them that I have a new practice dedicated to an integrative approach to their health. Also, I will be sending separate postcards to other physicians in the community, informing them about my new locations as well as a small blurb explaining what integrative and functional medicine is all about, since this is a foreign concept to many doctors.
5: The "Mom" network: I think that this may be the most important marketing tool that I can utilize. Most of the new patients that I have been seeing have learned about my expertise "from a friend of a friend of a friend that has a child with diagnosis X". For the patients and parents that seem pleased with my approach to their medical care, I will be asking that they tell others with the same diagnoses about my services. This is a two-edged sword, however. For those that are not pleased, bad recommendations travel further and faster than all the good reviews!
6: Public speaking: I do plan on giving some talks and discussions to physicians as well as the general public about some of the conditions I which I want to specialize. Not only does this spread the word about my practice, it will also educate others about these poorly understood disorders (specifically POTS and PANDAS/PANS). I do not expect all other doctors to treat these children but rather to recognize what these patients have and refer them for appropriate diagnosis and care.
What I won't be doing: I have no plans for any sort of print advertising. In the past, this has proven to be less than effective. Patients and parents today utilize the internet to gain information. And if they read a newspaper, it probably is the digital version. Do you have any other marketing ideas that you would like to share? I would be glad to hear additional approaches.