May 31, 2017 Physician Branding: A New Approach to Medical Marketing
Healthcare is far behind other industries in its approach to marketing. Gone are the days of being able to rely on advertisements to gain an edge over the competition. Advertisements are uninteresting to us because they provide little or no value. On the other hand, we can now access information that is of value almost instantaneously. Consequently, we rapidly scan incoming information and block out marketing messages that don’t offer the information we are seeking.
Marketing strategies that have replaced standard advertisements with evidence-based strategies for effective communication have seen tremendous success. Applying these approaches to medicine requires developing strong physician brands.
The medical marketing opportunity
We ignore medical advertisements, but we are more eager than ever before to get our hands on reliable medical information. Searching for health information is the 3rd most popular online activity in the United States, and patients consistently report wanting more information and better communication from their doctors.
Though consumers across industries ignore advertisements, they seek out and engage with content that’s valuable to them. If you provide that content, people will willingly digest your messages. At the same time, patients and prospective patients will appreciate that you dedicate time to satisfying their longing for trustworthy content. Physicians who provide timely and valuable information can therefore simultaneously enhance patient satisfaction and recruit new patients to their practice.
This content marketing strategy was the approach the Cleveland Clinic used to become one of the most visited healthcare destinations. In addition to developing novel content, a growing number of physicians are strategically using social media. As a result, there are now data demonstrating the fruitful opportunities that social media provides for medical practices.
By distributing valuable medical content online, you can efficiently communicate with a large volume of patients and prospective patients and also provide people with the conveniences they enjoy in other industries and that they now seek in healthcare. Indeed, improved physician communication produces several beneficial outcomes, including enhanced patient satisfaction, increased adherence to treatment plans, reduced likelihood of litigious behavior, and improved clinical outcomes.
The challenges for successful medical marketing
Time pressures limit the quality and volume of the information you can provide in the clinic, which unfortunately affects patient satisfaction. Digital content marketing through social media is a powerful – and cost effective – instrument to overcome this challenge because it offers a way to complement your in-person dialogue. Unlike advertising, though, content marketing is time consuming. In the field of healthcare, it requires interdisciplinary knowledge across science and communications.
Physicians rarely have the time to create ongoing content or the marketing experience to support brand development. At the same time, marketers rarely have the scientific training to critically analyze medical literature.
The solution for implementing a medical marketing strategy
Clinical credentials may differentiate physicians in the eyes of their colleagues, but patients put more weight on the way physicians communicate with them. Establishing a strong physician brand should therefore focus on improving this aspect of the patient experience. These improvements can be achieved through relatively low-cost in-person and digital strategies.
Physicians and researchers increasingly recognize physician communication as critical to both patient satisfaction and health outcomes. As a result, relevant research efforts and training programs are growing. These resources can be invaluable for supporting positive physician-patient interactions in the clinic. Between visits, digital strategies provide an efficient way to nurture relationships with patients. As with in-person communication, digital content is enhanced by 3 keys things:
Today, creators of highly valuable content understand aspects of both communications and behavioral science, which allows them to strategically develop the words, structure, presentation, and mode of delivery for their content. Though physicians carry the biomedical expertise required to build valuable medical content, it’s rare for a physician to possess all the skills required for effective ongoing communications because marketing is understandably absent in the grueling training process that physicians undergo. Those that do have all the relevant knowledge likely do not have sufficient time to execute even a well-crafted strategy.
All the necessary skills may exist within the physician practice, while some may need to be sought externally. Either way, it should be feasible to collaborate on a medical marketing strategy upfront and then delegate the majority of the work. What’s critical for establishing effective communication is that none of the 3 important aspects of valuable content – accuracy, relevance, or digestibility – is compromised.