5 Marketing & PR Tips For Your Medical Practice

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By: Emily Schmitz, Founder, MedVoice PR

The medical landscape in Central Texas has become fiercely competitive.  Declining reimbursement, increasing regulations, a shift to value care, and a rise in healthcare consumerism has all turned the heat on physician practices.  And gone are the days where your patient base came from referring physicians alone. 

What can you do to stay competitive, while maintaining and even increasing your patient volumes? A comprehensive public relations and marketing strategy is a smart place to start. 

 Here are 5 tips for developing and maintaining effective communication efforts for your medical practice:

1)  Keep your physician and community outreach constant: Physician liaisons are a vital part of a practice’s communication efforts. It helps maintain an open line of communication between you and referring physicians so that your practice can retain and grow your patient referral base. Staying active in the community through speaking engagements and relevant sponsorships is a great way to elevate your practice’s brand awareness. 

2)  Add credibility with traditional media exposure: Traditional media exposure (TV, radio, and newspaper interviews) is still relevant! Patients love to see their doctors in the news. But what you do with those interviews afterthey air or go to print is what’s really important. Repurpose the interview links via your social media channels (promote on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, & YouTube) and make sure you optimize them with key words.  Being quoted in the media also adds a very important layer of credibility to your practice. It helps frame you as a ‘go-to’ expert in your field.  

3)  Build robust content marketing and proactively ‘serve it’ to your audiences:  Maintain fresh content on your website through blogs. This helps you create a resource library of educational content for potential patients. And it adds a new level of credibility for you when a visitor goes to your website and wants to learn more about a certain condition or treatment. If the content is nonexistent or outdated, you’re missing a prime opportunity.  And make sure that you optimize those blogs with relevant key words. Then promote that content through the right social media channels. 

4)  Maintain a strong social media presence: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are wonderful platforms to keep consistent information flowing to your patients. It’s also a great way for your patients to ‘share’ your information to their friends and followers. This organically opens the door to many more potential patients for you. And now that Facebook is a primary source for reviews, it’s a platform that you can’t afford to ignore. 

5)  Educate and attract with videos: Patients are researching their physicians and recommended treatments to learn more.With short videos, physicians are able to “meet” current or potential patients by communicating their passion for medicine or explaining a condition or procedure. While we all like to think shooting videos on our phones is a simple, inexpensive way to go, hiring a professional will take your videos much further. 

Maintaining public relations and marketing can be a full-time job. Investing in a public relations firm in Austin that specializes in medical and healthcare can make all the difference. Contact MedVoice PR, if you would like more information about communication strategies for your practice.  

 

When a Crisis Hits, Follow This One Rule

By Ellen Decareau, Chief Strategist

It’s hard to predict a crisis. The ones that are predictable, well, if you think they could happen, they are easier to plan for. It is the unexpected, strange, and traumatic ones that test the agility and aptitude of a communications team.

-     Mice turned blue in a preclinical trial. 

-     Someone was shot in the parking lot. 

-     The third-party organization managing your clinical trial just went bankrupt mid-trial. 

-     A multi-million-dollar fee was just assessed due to a new government law. 

-     A senior leader was killed in a car crash.

 I could go on and on (yes, all of the above have happened), but you get the point. In all of these situations there is one rule that prevailed for what was a considered a successful response — assemble your team ASAP and respond quickly. This might seem logical — but there are countless examples where companies waited to get the message and story ‘just right’.  And in that time, their brand and reputation crumbled.

1)   Assemble the team.These are your high-level executive company decision-makers, likely one or more C-level representatives. Add also key persons relevant to where the crisis is concerned (medical affairs, IT, marketing/communications, Human Resources, regulatory affairs, etc.). Do you have a PR/communications agency? Bring them in early on to help manage the message. While legal does not need to be part of your “inner” crisis team, they need to be abreast of the situation and action plan. Aim to keep the crisis team ‘concise’ – only key individuals who will help you understand the problem and its possible ripple effects. The larger the team, the harder it is to achieve the next step.

2)   Respond quickly even if you’re not sure of the solution or cause. Look no further than Mr. Facebook himself as an example of what happens when you wait too long.Facebook’s “Delay, Deny and Deflect” strategy for addressing crises of late seem to be taking its toll on the brand with consumers deleting their accounts and industry leaders calling for leadership changes. Eek. But the guy who built a media platform that thrives on immediacy should know better. Even if you don’t have all of the answers, staying quiet only brings more scrutiny and questions. Distrust starts to form, which is typically hard to recover from.

Key Takeaway: At the end of the day, the vast majority of organizations rely on their relationships — that may be investors, patients, consumers, doctors, other businesses. Most are reasonable — they don’t expect you to know all the ‘why’s’ and ‘how come’s’ hours after the crisis was discovered. But, they do expect you to be transparent, express remorse (when appropriate), agree to take action & responsibility (if relevant) and communicate frequently.