Article Date: 6/1/2013

Let's Get Medical: Part 3
marketing

Let’s Get Medical: Part 3

Use these marketing strategies to attract patients who fall under your chosen medical eyecare niche.

DOUGLAS K. DEVRIES, O.D., SPARKS, NEV.

Businesses live or die based on their marketing ability. After all, if people aren’t aware a business can provide a service or product that may benefit them, they won’t go there, and worse, they’ll seek the service or product elsewhere. The same is true of the optometrist who doesn’t market his/her chosen medical eyecare niche: Current and prospective patients will seek a practitioner whom they know does provide this care, and you’ll never get a chance to test for and treat the condition if your services are unknown to them. This is best demonstrated in patients who have ocular allergies or, perhaps, a corneal or conjunctival foreign body. And remember: Your chosen medical eyecare niche is a gateway to treating other medical eyecare conditions.

Here, in the final installment of this series, I discuss both internal and external marketing tactics that should enable your medical eyecare niche to thrive.

Internal marketing

To market your chosen medical eyecare niche internally, think about how each consumer moves through your office. It is essential to remind these consumers constantly of your ability to diagnose and treat various conditions.

Reception room. Have related posters and patient literature that contains patient education regarding the malady, as well as available treatments. (You can acquire these from the pharmaceutical companies that produce treatments/products for the condition.) Just by showcasing related products within your practice, you’ll generate patient questions about them, which can lead to future related appointments. Consider personalizing patient brochures with your practice’s name, so your current patients and/or their friends and family can call you if they require care for the condition. Also, post framed patient education regarding the medical eyecare niche behind or on the reception desk. This way, patients will see it while checking in, completing paperwork or scheduling future appointments. In addition, consider providing digital tablets that contain patient education software while the patient awaits his/her exam.

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Including an on-hold message regarding the new medical service and your ability to provide it goes a long way in attracting patients who have the condition.

Establish an Incentive Program

In every aspect of patient care, members of your practice should look to provide additional products and/or services to benefit patients. To motivate staff, set a goal for the overall increase in medical revenue related to products provided to your patients, and create a staff incentive program.

Pre-testing. Just as you have trained your staff to communicate with patients about vision care products that can benefit them, this is where staff should communicate the education you provided in part two of this series. (See “Establish an Incentive Program,” above.) For example, while taking the patient’s history, the staff person could say to the patient: “How long have your eyes been that red? Dr. X can also take care of your red eyes.”

Exam room. Should the exam reveal the medical eye condition for which you’ve chosen to provide care, continue marketing the niche by educating the patient on the significance of the condition and the benefits of follow-up appointments and proper treatment. Also, include a discussion here on the adverse outcomes of “ignoring it.” (See “Customizing Care,” below.) For example, “Mrs. Smith, I noticed today that your eyes are also pretty red. In your case, this is because of a medical condition that you have (allergies, dry eyes, etc). This is a condition that we can treat if you would like us to. This is a medical condition and would fall under your medical care plan and not your vision insurance.”

Customizing Care

Once you have established the patient’s eye health needs, build a database of his/her ocular health, so you can better manage his/her needs and even anticipate future needs. This customized care approach goes a long way to creating patient loyalty and referrals, and it provides an excellent chance to increase your practice revenue, as you’ll be able to provide patient education on new treatments/products, as they become available, for the patient’s specific conditions.

External marketing

To effectively market your chosen medical eyecare niche outside your practice, consider these two items:

Marketing tools. Include a telephone message for patients on hold that mentions the new service and your ability to provide it. For example, “Welcome to ABC Vision Care where we treat vision disorders as well as red eyes, allergies and many other eye conditions.” Also, announce your chosen medical eyecare niche on the homepage of your practice website and through your practice’s social media sites, such as Facebook, to make both current and perspective patients aware of it. Finally, include the availability of the service in e-mail newsletters and patient-recall notices. Even a pre-printed label that reads “we treat red eyes” would suffice.

Letters. Perform an Internet search of local primary care physicians and pediatricians, among other healthcare professionals, you feel would provide patient referrals, and send them letters regarding your ability to diagnose and treat the condition. Also, send such letters to the doctors of patients whom you’ve already diagnosed to make them aware of the service. Building relationships with key healthcare providers in your area is essential to not only garnering patients who have the medical eyecare condition, but in seeing other patients who may complain of ocular issues as well.

Get started

This three-part series has provided you with practical and effective steps for developing a medical niche in your practice. It’s time you determine that today is the day you capture these patients and reap both the personal and financial rewards of doing so. OM

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Dr. Devries has a degree in financial management from the University of Nevada School of Business and is co-founder of the Eye Care Associates of Nevada, a medical/surgical co-management referral practice. E-mail him at drdevries@nvlaser.com, or send comments to optometricmanagement@gmail.com.



Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: June 2013, page(s): 28 29