Hospital marketing requires a two-pronged integrated approach. Not only do hospitals need to market to patients, but physician loyalty is also driven in part by effective marketing. According to NPR, “Physicians drive health care spending.” So, what does that mean for hospital marketing dollars in 2010? As hospitals continue to compete for physician referrals, it has become increasingly more important for them to provide resources and tools for doctors to help them get new patients as well help them to create meaningful experiences for existing patients.
With this approach, hospitals are likely to increase physician loyalty to their hospital and thus put more “heads in beds.” A hospital in Dallas, Texas recently introduced patient/doctor “speed-dating” as a way to help doctors acquire more patients. While it seems funny at first, it actually proved to be helpful for not just the physician, but for the patient too. By coordinating the speed-dating events for the physicians, patients were able to ask the doctors candid questions, which is critical to establishing trust. Other hospitals are experimenting with things like providing physicians with a platform to write articles and record podcasts on various medical issues to position them as experts to potential patients. This requires little investment on the physicians part and the return can be outstanding.
Developing patient/physician forums or message boards so that doctors can stay connected with patients is another tactic that hospitals are beginning to employ. Determining metrics for success at the onset of the marketing initiative is critical and sharing the results with doctors can make a huge impact on them.
For example, if a hospital launches microsites for their physicians, provide volume tracking reports for incoming phone calls and online inquiries so the physician can see how many patients are finding them as a result of the hospital’s marketing efforts can be a huge driver for physician referrals. In conclusion, actively soliciting the engagement of physicians in hospital marketing efforts will continue to foster stronger senses of loyalty to hospitals.