Every time I visit the USA for my own research into the health sector, I get more and more surprised about the aggressive marketing tactics used by the doctors. At the same time, I feel better about the Australian health system where such marketing is highly regulated – both in the interest of the patient as well as the doctor.
The good news is that the demand for a medical service is ever-growing due to an ageing population, new treatments, and rising private health insurance solutions. However, since 2009, the competition amongst the medical profession including hospital systems, private practices, and urgent care networks is increasing.
It is fair to say that the patients (including me) are interested, in being treated by the smartest and most capable expert. They actively search on the Internet for top-quality care. The use of social media, Google in finding health solutions is increasing at an exponential rate.
Under such circumstances, being a good or great doctor is not enough unless and until your patients know about it.
Traditionally, medical marketing was mostly on mouth to mouth publicity. Doctors, their professional generations, are conditioned not to give any importance to marketing. In fact, still today I meet quite a few doctors who detest marketing of any kind.
On the other hand, I see many successful practitioners actively engaged in legal and ethical marketing activities, which result in the success of their private practice. These savvy doctors not only understand but are open to exploring the possibilities that marketing can bring and are bold enough to experiment and test different marketing avenues.
I also come across many examples where many doctors explore ad hoc marketing activities. Some activities get results and some don’t due to their inherent ad hoc nature and the blame is put on ‘marketing’ that it does not work.
What is important is that doctors should understand ‘what marketing really means’ and ‘what is the marketing that can work for medical’ prior to experimenting.
This knowledge will not only save them the money but also will significantly shield them from the risk of reputation damage that might happen due to incorrect marketing.
Adopting a thought leadership model of marketing is a very effective tool doctors can use to effectively market within the legal and ethical realms.