Three Wise Dames

Marketing in the Life Science Industry

Yes, Doctor, This IS a Business April 27, 2010

“Thank you for calling. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  We’re closed from noon to 2 p.m. for lunch. If you have reached this recording during normal business hours, please leave a message. We will get back to you by the next business day.”

That’s the message I keep getting when I try to schedule an appointment with one particular physician.  And I have left several messages with no response.

Under normal circumstances, I would have zero tolerance for this total lack of responsiveness and would simply have called another doctor. But in this case, I have already seen the physician for a particular injury, went through the trouble of getting an MRI and would really like to get the results.

Where’s the Disconnect?

Given the practice’s troubling habit of not responding, I should not have been surprised when I called again this morning only to learn that the phone number had been disconnected.

When will physicians really grasp that they are in business and that to stay in business, they need to start treating patients as their customers?  Ok, I understand that doctors went to medical school, not business school.  Still, somewhere in between anatomy and pharmaceuticals 101, were they not taught that private practice requires more than office space and a listing in the phone book?

Running a successful physician’s practice takes the skills and talents of multiple staff members, from the front desk person who answer the phones to the physicians and nurses who provide the clinical expertise.  The one thing each of these people has in common is their interaction with customers—the practice’s patients.

Basic Customer Service

There is much a physician can learn from studying the successful marketing and customer service standards of other businesses:

  • Return phone calls and emails promptly, and always within 24 hours
  • Provide continual staff training on customer service excellence and how to handle difficult customers in a professional and effective way
  • Provide multiple ways for customers to contact you including phone, email and website

These are a few of the simple fundamentals that physician practices must take seriously, especially in today’s tough economic climate where consumers are judicious in how they spend their money. Mastering the basics is also a prerequisite before a practice can effectively implement a marketing or public relations campaign.

For more information on practice marketing, refer to Lisa’s most recent post and Debbie’s post on ‘Practice Marketing is Not Rocket Science’.

 

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? January 23, 2010

Filed under: Lisa,Market Planning — Lisa Pohmajevich @ 6:57 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Image credit: Matt Windsor/Threadless.com

In an earlier post I outlined criteria useful in determining if your product is ready for a DTC campaign. The first of which is ‘the product/procedure is widely available through providers’. Most of our healthcare is delivered to us through the physician [provider], and as needed, the physician refers us to another provider, or another healthcare service. When we are sick or hurt we go see a doctor.

If our symptoms are tolerable, or we feel like it will pass and we are not yet at death’s doorstep, we may delay calling the doctor. We may first consult family or friends. We may do an internet search to try and match our symptoms to something described on a reliable site. However, if the symptoms persist, and our armchair doctoring fails – we go to the doctor. It is common and proper to defer to the expert and for health and wellness concerns, it is the doctor we should consult, they are supposed to know what to do for us.

We do not typically turn on the TV, or flip through a magazine or even tune the radio, seeking an advertisement about that which ails us.

Therefore, it is a logical conclusion that before broadcasting product availability to consumers, the doctor should be made aware of the product, the application and the appropriate patient for whom the product is best suited. In the medical device field, this awareness may also include product use training so that the doctor is prepared to treat the patient. The next likely questions might be ‘how many doctors must be aware and prepared?’ and ‘how fast can this happen?’

The answer to the first question is likely answered in the company business plan. The number of doctors that require preparation equals the number of doctors who serve patients with the healthcare issue for which the product is labeled. This is especially true if the healthcare concern is rare, and physicians who treat patients with the concern are few in number. This is also true if a goal of the company is to achieve a standard of care declaration that references the product.

However, the real number is that which represents a significant enough population of physicians to serve the patients in a timely manner, to which you direct advertising. To determine how many, who they are and where they are requires a clear understanding of the specialty, patient referral patterns, and regulatory and reimbursement environments. Defining these market aspects is fundamental to establishing good marketing strategy.

Solid marketing strategy supports well coordinated marketing planning. Planning before spending will more likely result in the laying of a golden egg.

How fast can this happen? Stay tuned for that post.

Comments welcome.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting


 

 
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