If you’ve ever moved to a new town, changed jobs, or had your employer change the company health plan, you’ve probably had to search for a new doctor. More than likely, your search involved word-of-mouth, a health plan directory or a gazillion internet hits. Because most community hospitals and health systems don’t typically promote their physician medical groups beyond their physician referral web page, finding a doctor can be arduous.
Hospital and medical group leadership – especially physician leaders – often shy away from promotional tactics due to budget constraints, fear of looking like ambulance-chasing lawyers, or because they feel “above” the need to advertise. Yet, in an increasingly consumer-driven healthcare world, hospitals and health systems need to start thinking of their medical groups as a product line and be willing to promote them the same way they promote women’s health, sports medicine, urgent care, cardiovascular services, neurosciences and bariatrics.
A hospital’s medical group can be packaged as a product that allows consumers to seamlessly navigate through both primary care and specialist physician offices and ancillary services, as well. Here are six strategies you can use to turn your employed medical group into a true product line:
- Provide a nurse navigator for the network. This concept utilizes a concierge or case manager to help guide consumers through the entire medical group continuum of multi-specialty care.
- Ensure standardized processes and data collection. From medical records input, to intake, to clinical order sets, to discharge instructions, to billing, each process within the medical group should be consistent regardless of practice location or specialty.
- Build interdisciplinary physician relationships. By connecting physicians electronically and physically, comprehensive care can be standardized and communicated along the care pathway, in turn increasing the likelihood that patients will stay inside the network.
- Create benchmarks, metrics and targets and continually improve. By developing standardized quality and consumer satisfaction benchmarks and dashboards, medical groups can share outcomes and consumer experiences, identify areas for improvement and celebrate successes together. Some areas to target that will increase consumer satisfaction include punctuality, courtesy, length of time to get an appointment and convenience.
- Make access convenient and settings consistent. Ever notice how a CVS is always located on a busy intersection’s corner and the store aisles and products’ placement are the same? You can apply similar tactics to your physician offices through consistent color schemes, room sizes and amenities, and by strategically locating both small offices and “big box” medical buildings to improve access and increase market share for your hospital.
- Brand your practices and then advertise them. Brand your practices and then advertise them. Though branding your physician practices with your hospital or system name can have regulatory implications, it will increase the visibility of both your employed network and your hospital within the communities you serve. And don’t rely on consumers to “pull” knowledge about your network. Instead, “push” it to the community using social media, advertising and events, from health fairs to walk/runs to speaking engagements.