Marketing Physicians to Grow Market Share

Bringing on a new primary care or specialty physician is a time-consuming and expensive feat. However, no matter how much time or money is spent during the process, hiring a physician is just half the battle to actually growing an organization's market share — the new physicians need to start seeing patients.

One of the main ways to attract patients to new physicians is through various forms of marketing. "Marketing is important because of the financial investment [in a physician]," says Tammy Tiller-Hewitt, FACHE, the chief motivation officer of Tiller-Hewitt Healthcare Strategies and a physician relations expert.

For hospitals and health systems, marketing physicians does not always mean putting up billboards or buying advertisement space in local news outlets. "The best marketing for physicians is always word of mouth," Ms. Tiller-Hewitt says. Here, she shares some tips on effective ways to market physicians.

Get information out quickly

Timing is everything when it comes to physician marketing. "There needs to be a blitz," says Ms. Tiller-Hewitt. She recommends hospitals and health systems get basic information about the new physician — name, niche and contact information — out to local referring providers as soon as possible. This helps the new physician jump in and start seeing patients quickly, keeping him or her satisfied with the new job from the start as well as rapidly growing the hospital's or system's patient base.

Target unexpected referral sources

Traditionally, hospitals and health systems let aligned physicians know when a new provider is added to the network. While doing that is important, there are many other populations that should know a new physician is in the area.

Hospitals and health systems should not be afraid to market their aligned physicians to providers who are aligned or employed with other systems. "Even if they're employed by our competitor, we'll still go in," she says. "We don't let that scare us away."

Ms. Tiller-Hewitt also suggests reaching out to pharmacies and urgent care centers when a new physician comes on board. Increasingly, patients are relying on urgent care or convenient care centers for their primary care and not going to a set primary care physician, so connecting with providers at those locations can help grow referral streams and tap into a new patient base.

Don't forget staff

One of the best patient referral bases is right under an organization's own roof. "The nursing and ancillary staff [can] become your biggest sales team," Ms. Tiller-Hewitt says. She suggests sending around a newsletter or postcard with the physician's information and picture as an introduction to employees in addition to physical introductions. "Have [physicians] walk around the hospital and introduce themselves…to get to know people," she says.

Marketing physicians to staff is important because hospital workers often provide referrals and healthcare advice to family and friends, according to Ms. Tiller-Hewitt. "They alone can fill your practice," she says. "If you work in a hospital, people will ask you your advice on…physicians. That's why you have to have those people on your side."

After the initial marketing phase, the physician can take it from there. "It then comes down to [the physician] doing a good job to retain the patients," Ms. Tiller-Hewitt says. And that, in the end, is the best way to maintain a strong patient and referral base.

More Articles on Physician Relations:

8 Top Drivers of Physician Satisfaction
Physician Turnover at All-Time High
4 Main Drivers for Hospitals' Physician Practice Acquisitions

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