Article Date: 2/1/2013

Marketing
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How to Promote a “Medical” Practice

Consider these seven tips for educating patients on what you do in your clinic.

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LEAH COLBY, O.D.

For me, and maybe some of you, I am always crushed when I hear a patient say, “Well, I took Johnny to the urgent care for his pink eye last week, and it just isn’t any better.” It is a constant reminder that I need to do a better job educating my patients on what we do in our clinic — namely, medical eye care.

Changing perceptions

I think our profession, as a whole, needs to do a better job of changing the perception of the general public regarding medical eye care. In my practice, we have worked very hard through the last 10 years to deliver that medical message in a variety of ways.

Here are few things that we have done to promote our medical services:

1 We build relationships with assisted-living centers. We have contacted our local assisted-living centers and identified their activities’ directors. Via these connections, we have done educational presentations about the aging eye, attended senior citizen health fairs and advertised in their monthly internal newsletters.

2 Each year, we advertise in the “What’s New In Business” section of our local newspaper. In our articles, we focus heavily on new technology we have acquired and how it has enhanced our medical management of patients.

3 At the end of every exam, I stress that we employ medical optometrists in our office and remind patients to visit our office first in the event of an eye emergency, pink eye or other eye-related disease. Almost 100% of our new patients are always surprised to learn that we offer medical services.

4 We offer “medical friendly” patient policies. On the great advice of a colleague, optometrist Michael Greenberg, we don’t have our front staff triage medical phone calls. When it comes to an eye-related issue, we fit patients in that day. Oftentimes, patients wait a while to call for help, and when it comes to their eye care we don’t want them to wait. We offer same-day walk-in emergency appointments.

5 We offer an after-hours emergency call service. I have been on call 24/7 for 10 years, and rarely do I get called into the office more than once a month. Providing on-call care is critical to developing your medical eyecare provider reputation. For example, the word-of-mouth referrals I received from one family for coming to see their son for a corneal abrasion during blizzard-like conditions was amazing.

6 We promote our medical message through social media. When you acquire a new piece of medical equipment… promote it. No matter how minor it may seem to you, even an upgraded piece of equipment like the remote BIO can allow you to more efficiently evaluate your patients for medical conditions.

7 We blog. When I write for our local Internet newspaper, I predominantly choose medically related topics and include a reminder at the end to always see the eye doctor for any eye-related infections.

Worth the investment

Recently, I had lunch with a contact lens representative who told me you can deliver a message as many as seven times to people before they start to change their thought process. While that may seem like a futile endeavor, I know that in my own practice we have seen the fruits of our labor with increased medical office visits. OM

DR. COLBY OPERATES EYEWEST VISION CLINIC IN ROGERS AND ST. MICHAEL, MINN. SHE WAS NAMED THE “YOUNG OPTOMETRIST OF THE YEAR” BY THE MINNESOTA OPTOMETRIC ASSOCIATION. TO COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE, E-MAIL OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.



Optometric Management, Issue: February 2013, page(s): 50