Recruiting new patients requires a multi-faceted approach. A rheumatologist must have a solid brand and marketing platform, as well as an active strategy to attract and convert new patients. This might involve embracing social media, having a website, developing a referral network, being involved in your community and nurturing existing patients.
Your brand includes such items as your logo, your office’s decor, how your receptionist answers the phone, how long patients remain in the waiting area and so forth. “Every component of the patient experience affects how they perceive your brand,” says Nathan Yerian, president, Adhere Creative, a marketing agency based in Houston. “Your brand is not what you say it is; it is what patients say it is.”
Brands are built over time and with consistency. When looking to improve your brand, outline the absolute best patient experience and then implement procedures to achieve that. When patients recognize, trust and have positive experiences with your brand, they will not only return—but they will also tell their friends and family about you.
Embrace Social Media
Promote your brand by participating in social media and having a website. Physician-created content (e.g., blogs, presentations, videos) will act as a magnet to attract potential new patients. “If a patient is seeking information online regarding a condition, and your practice is at the forefront of providing that information, they may be enticed to make an appointment,” Mr. Yerian says. Link the content back to your website, where patients can get more of their questions answered and can schedule an appointment.
If a practice continually produces great content, more doors will open, in the form of guest posts or opinion pieces in other media channels. “The goal is to spread your expert opinions as far and wide as possible,” Mr. Yerian says.
On your website, be sure to include the story of why you became a physician. “Patients enjoy learning about a doctor and why they chose this specialty,” says Elizabeth L. Perkins, MD, rheumatologist, Rheumatology Care Center, Birmingham, Ala. Ideally, your brand should tell the patient immediately who you are (i.e., personality), what you stand for (i.e., values) and what to expect (i.e., practice style).
Build a Network
Another way to gain referrals is via face-to-face meetings with primary care physicians (PCPs) and other specialists. “They will quickly gauge your practice style, demeanor, approach to referrals and key traits, which are far more memorable than record sharing across electronic health record systems,” Dr. Perkins says.