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Acupuncture Today – December, 2015, Vol. 16, Issue 12

How to Market to the Medical Profession

By Drew Stevens, PhD

The world of health care is changing dramatically. When situations occur that cause expenses to increase, it is time for you to develop strategies that maintain and grow revenue. In order to maintain, sustain and retain business, doctors today must become allies with the medical community.

Let's discuss a scenario in which you and your local MD can engage in a fruitful relationship in which both sides win.

For many, starting any new relationship is as frightening as giving a public speech to 100 people. Ask any doctor, building alliances and creating new marketing opportunities is not practical. Yet the biggest hurdle is starting, and you really only have two options – you can wait for a medical doctor to call you or you can call them. I believe the latter is in order.

One of the three best methods for discovering the right doctor to speak to is to begin to ask for referrals from your friends, colleagues and patients. Asking your circle of influence will decrease the amount of time to seek a new alliance and also will decrease the barriers to communication. Since others are referring you, the barriers toward an initial conversation are lowered simply because you were referred by someone the doctor knows and trusts.

Second, you really must be actively networking; one of the best marketing channels is attending association, community and other health care events. The biggest challenge is not becoming a wallflower. You must have a goal in mind of meeting that one new person who can help bridge the gap between where you are today and where you want to be. And don't just attend any event; attend events that have a potpourri of talent you can meet and be introduced to.

Finally, another good method to "break the ice" with a medical doctor is to go on the Internet and find physicians you want to meet within your geographic proximity. To help lower the barriers of communication, send a very short, benefit-based introduction letter. It might say something similar to this:

"In the past several years, I have treated numerous patients who have illnesses I was unable to aid them with. In my practice, I have worked with patients who have been diagnosed with migraines, kidney and other digestive issues, neuropathy and heart disease. I do not have all the answers, and believe alliances and relationships are the best way to aid a patient. To that end, I would love to learn more about you, your practice and your practice modalities in the hope we might leverage our respective businesses. My plan is to call you on Thursday morning, Aug. 8 at 9:30 a.m. to set up a brief 20-minute meeting. If this is inconvenient, can you have your office manager call me to establish a time more convenient for you? Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you."

This non-sales letter provides a means for you to establish a relationship and follow up on a letter that opens a door for you and develops a pathway towards a relationship. The main idea to remember is to follow up. If you initiate the relationship, you must follow up if you have any hope of building it.

Once you've established the initial connection/relationship, it is best to provide each other with as much research and evidenced-based information to aid patient conversations. You and the practicing physician need to feel confident and comfortable with a patient as you forward them for additional care. Time, therefore, must be invested here to learn not only about each other's practices, but also how future treatments aid patient success. Remember, this relationship ideally is all about the patient!

Finally, one of the best ways to cement a new relationship is to visit each other's practice. They should visit you and you them. If needed, perhaps you or your family might become a patient of the other party – you never know! However, visiting each other's practice, meeting your respective staff, and understanding treatments and processes will give both of you a better understanding of how each works and how best to refer patients.

Two simple concepts must be emphasized to assist you with this seemingly counterintuitive effort to cultivate relationships with medical doctors. It's an easy recipe for success, if you think about it.

Step 1: Get Started: If your practice is not moving in the direction you desire and you want more revenue, then building relationships within the medical community will help sustain and build your practice. But you have to get started - now.

Step 2: Communicate: Similar to any relationship, whether it is staff or old and new patients, the key to success lies in actively communicating. In other words, follow up via phone, lunch meetings or even coffee sessions to maintain contact, check results and plan for the future.

The health care world has changed and will continue to do so; that means you need to change your ideas, your practice model and your relationships. For decades, there's been a barrier to the medical community. It doesn't have to be that way. You have the power to change it all with one phone call, one letter or one meeting. Innovation is sparked by changing the status quo; now go out and conquer your world.

Drew Stevens, PhD works with acupuncturists that desire to dramatically accelerate patient volume and revenue. He is the author of 6 books including his most recent Patient Acceleration and writes frequently for acupuncturists and natural path periodicals. He can be reached at 877-391-6821.

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