Kentucky Doc Spring 2016 - Page 28

28 doc • Spring 2016 • Business Section Kentucky Grow Your Practice by Thinking of Yourself as a Brand By Jim Ray For years, the given way a physician grew a practice was through referrals from colleagues and associations with certain hospitals and/ or insurance plans. The environment is changing. While these traditional channels remain important, the consumer is more empowered to seek out information about a specific physician. That shift is impacting how physician groups and individual practioners grow their respective practices. Today’s consumer is much more inclined to read online reviews, visit websites and even online physician directories. The need to establish and monitor information has become increasingly more important to a successful practice. Rather than referring a patient to a colleague from medical school, physicians may be encouraged (even pressured) to refer that patient to another member of the hospital network. Overtime, this may erode the traditional flow of new patients to your practice. I encourage professionals to begin thinking of themselves as brands. This may alter your perspective on how accessible you are to the general public. Let’s consider a few of the implications. Brands such as GE, Apple, Starbucks and even Littmann (the company which may have made the stethoscope you use) all focus on producing great products. More importantly, these brands seek to instill a distinct image in your mind about the product and/or service offered. It’s about the “experience.” The same applies to you and your practice. That’s why you’ve invested so heavily in your education and training. You’re providing a service and you want your patients and their families to be happy with the care they receive. Ultimately, you hope they were sat- isfied enough to recommend you to friends and family. This is simple brand positioning. Consider how many times your patients are given the opportunity to complete surveys about their experience. While we want to know that the care provided was effective and met expectations, there’s another reason we ask those questions. We want to know if there was a problem that needs to be addressed and/or resolved. This fact alone provides insight into an interesting fact. When it comes to effective branding, it’s the market, not the company (e.g. physician), that determines the brand’s value. While we may have logos and color schemes those aren’t your brand. They’re merely representations of it. Your brand is based on the value attributed to it by the