Five Ways Hospitals Can Increase Sales
In the hospital marketplace today, there’s lots of well meaning advice regarding how a hospital can increase their sales. However, most of the information is highly theoretical in nature and focuses more on financial engineering, efficiency and cost saving strategies rather than actual marketing fundamentals.
This article is different because it focuses on how hospital's can grow their actual business. The article will share five simple ways that a hospital marketing or business development professional can increase business and enhance profitability.
1. Remember, The Hospital is the Doctor's Workshop
This simple phrase has been around for years in hospital marketing. However its potency has been lost in recent years due to more flashy objects like the Internet. Marketing professionals often forget the basic partner in successful hospital business development...the local doctor.
Physicians admit patients into the hospital. Doctors perform procedures in the hospital. They also order patients to take tests that only hospitals can perform.
The first order of business for any hospital marketer is to ensure that the hospital has a salesperson who solely focuses on communicating face to face with physicians. This salesperson, needs to conduct regular in person meetings with local doctors.
This sales professional’s job will be to both inform the doctor of the capabilities of hospital services and record feedback from the physician on the services the doctor desire most.
Continuous contact between the hospital physician relationship professional and the doctor establishes a working relationship. This person should constantly take physician feedback to the hospital's administration team. Administration then needs to invest in the technology and services physicians desire from the hospital.
For instance, if the doctor often prescribes a certain test, the hospital should go out of its way to ensure that it has the capability to perform the test. The hospital also should look for ways to customize their relationship with the doctor regarding the test. If this is done the doctor will use the hospital exclusively for patients since the hospital provides the best environment for the test.
By creating an in person relationship, the hospital sales professional is able to establish a partnership with the physicians. As the hospital becomes more and more accommodative to the physician’s exact needs, the physician will begin to recommend and edit patients to the hospital because the hospital’s services are exactly tailored to the needs of the doctor.
2. Ensure All Local Doctors Have Admitting Privileges
It is all to common for doctors to admit patients to one hospital and bypass another due to issues with admitting privileges. In a competitive market, a doctor will not necessarily seek admitting privileges at every area hospital.
This is a key duty of the hospital professional who manages the admitting privileges and the physicians who are on the Medical Staff. The first question to ask is “How does the hospital ensure that all local doctors have admitting privileges?” In a small town it may apparent when a new doctor move into the neighborhood. In a large city, it may be nearly impossible to keep up with this task. Part of the hospital Medical Staff administration team’s duty, must be to continuously search online for new physicians entering the area.
In some cases where communities are small, looking a neighboring community physician can also be a source to grow your base of doctors with admitting privileges. In a large city, hospital staff must search online, attend local physician meetings and use a variety of other sources to discover and authorize new doctors with admitting privileges to the hospital.
If the hospital waits for doctors to request privileges, the facility may lose potential revenue. While in some cases hospitals may not want a certain doctor to have privileges, these situations are extremely rare.
3. Grow Occupational Health Services
Occupational health is an exception area of growth for any hospital. This service allows hospitals to provide responsive health care to employers in the area. Again a specific salesperson should be charged with maintaining relationships with local employers.
The strategy for Occupational Health is similar to that of Physicians. The salesperson needs to personally visit with local employers. The sales professional needs to both communicate hospital services to employers and record feedback from businesses regarding the services they need as employers. A continuous relationship should evolve as employers communicate their needs to the hospital, and the hospital customizes its services to fit business needs.
It is best to create an Occupational Health clinic in the hospital where employees go for employer related health visits. Once employers have begun to send their employees to this clinic, the Occupational Health representative from the hospital should touch base with the employer regularly to ensure that the operation is running smoothly.
A community can have hundreds of even thousands of workers who need Occupational Health services. A hospital Occupational Health outpatient clinic can significantly boost revenue by bringing in hundreds or thousands of patients into the hospital each month.
4. Strengthen Centers of Excellence
Creating a center of excellence can be costly for a hospital, but it often creates a reoccuring stream of revenue that far exceeds the initial expense. Hospitals should always be on the lookout for new center of excellence opportunities.
There are several methods that can be used to determine what type of center to establish. In many cases there will be one or more local physicians who specialize in a particular area. For instance, let’s say that your community has several Endocrinologists. These doctors can be attracted to the hospital, if the facility creates a Diabetes Center of Excellence. In order for the doctors to attracted to the center, the hospital must create a network of services that support the center.
As an example, a Diabetic suffering from Peripheral Neuropathy may need to have an ultrasound scan for artifunction in their legs. By setting up a room in the center with an ultrasound unit, and organizing a hospital technician to person scans as needed, the facility can attract physician referrals.
In addition, if the center combines other tests and technology in one single location, the doctor will be inspired to participate in the center since all the components needed for treatment and testing are in one location.
5. Build Your Hospital's Marketing and Online Presence
Most marketers today focus on this item first. However before building an online presence, it is important to understand that doctors usually refer patients to hospitals.
Patients usually have only a limited say where they will be treated. That is why ensuring that all local doctors have admitting privileges is so key. This means that your online appearance is first and foremost targeted to physicians, not just consumers alone.
There are some exceptions. For instance in underserved communities, some women may only come to a hospital when they are actually ready to deliver. Although this situation is rare today in the United States, since even underserved mothers usually have Obstetricians. In the case of a mother without a doctor choosing a hospital for delivery, the consumer would be more of a target than the doctor.
However, this is rarely the case. For instance, when a mother delivers a baby, her Obstetrician usually chooses the hospital. Often the hospital is chosen based on the admitting privileges of the doctor.
This example shows the importance of actively communicating your hospital's services to doctors in an attractive and modern way. It is important for your website and social media presence be attractive, mobile friendly, active and regularly updated.
Facebook for instance allows a business to create multiple pages. It is good to create a specific page for each of your major servicelines. Keep the pages updated and always looking fresh. Remember physicians are looking at your website and your social media presence. They are evaluating your hospital by the attractiveness of your pages, the professionalism of your content and the activity level on your pages.
Where Do Ordinary Consumers Fit In?
Up until now, this article has largely focused on marketing your hospital to doctors. However, consumers should also be targeted. It just may be a little different than you think.
Health fairs and other community events are great ways to introduce consumers to your doctors. Once a consumer becomes a patient of a doctor who uses your hospital, the doctor will refer the consumer to the hospital for a procedure or a service. This is the goal.
In a similar way, hospital’s should always focus on connecting consumers with doctors in both their offline and online marketing efforts. It is important to understand that establishing a doctor patient relationship between a consumer and a physician is the key goal of hospital marketing.
A consumer does not usually choose where he or she will have open heart surgery. What actually happens is that your hospital's relationship with the consumer's cardiovascular surgeon will determine if the surgery is done at your hospital.
In short, simply remember to target doctors, doctors, doctors and more doctors. They are the one key factor that will drive your hospital marketing success.
Contact us today if you would like to learn more about marketing your hospital or physician group.