Preparing to market a medical practice

In today's competitive medical fields, including spine medicine, orthopedics, neurosurgery, interventional pain management and physiatry, physicians must proactively market their practice in order to be competitive. Going beyond merely competitive to "leading" requires a carefully designed and focused marketing plan that furthers the strategic objectives of the practice.

If you are considering adding more firepower to your spine practice marketing, due to flat practice revenue, an aggressive competitor, addition of a new physician or office, etc., the following case study will give you a framework for developing a successful strategic marketing plan.

This Case Study is based on an Interventional Pain Management practice including two ambulatory surgery centers with multiple operating rooms in two locations in adjoining states in the Southeast United States. The practice profiled here developed and implemented a targeted marketing plan, achieving a 58% increase in new patients and a 26% increase in revenue from the prior year - far exceeding projected growth targets.

Establishing goals of marketing the practice

The goals of the practice's marketing efforts were to increase the overall revenue of the practice 20% by year-end and to create exposure for the practice by establishing a positive, best-in-class public image within the community.

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Understanding the difference between good marketing and advertising

Good marketing challenges management to evaluate aspects key to the successful operation and continued growth of the practice. Marketing includes demographic research into areas the practice intends to serve, knowing its competition, and analyzing the practice's strengths, weaknesses, unique opportunities, and potential pitfalls. These activities culminate in the development of a Strategic Marketing Plan that focuses on tracking results. Further, good marketing can educate patients, referring physicians, and the community about the services the practice offers.

Advertising is a quick, impersonal means of reaching a large demographic audience with a particular message and/or product. A drawback to advertising is the people it reaches may or may not be good potential patients.

Outlining parameters for the strategic marketing plan

The practice did not employ a full-time Marketing Director. Therefore, it was crucial to develop a detailed marketing plan that specifically outlined what the practice needed to meet its goals. The plan was to include:

  • a mission statement
  • specific goals
  • objectives
  • actions plans, and
  • a budget