Lesson 25 – How to market a specialty practice

For a sole provider practice, finding one’s niche is extremely important. This will keep the provider engaged in the care that they are providing, and – equally important – patients will notice that the provider is passionate about the care they are providing and, thus, the patient will be more likely to retain the relationship.

The is part of a series of lessons in our medical marketing course. For the entire course, please check out our medical marketing lessons.

Medical marketers are often left hapless on how to market a specialty practice. Marketing a medical practice (or marketing in general) is all about niching down and marketing the heck out of it. Mass marketing and marketing the same material to everyone is a classic way of wasting a LOT of money without much return on that investment.

Are you looking for a way to stand out from the 20 other PCPs within 10 blocks of you? Niche down … on something. Whatever your preferences are – niche down on something.

You’re probably saying that a practice’s niche is its providers’ specialty. That, however, isn’t probably the entire truth. Upon examination and reflection, providers and administrators will probably find that there are certain demographics and diagnoses where a professional aptitude or passion exists.

Some family physicians are interested in weight management, others are interested in diabetes prevention, and others have a passion for women’s health.

Moreover, some providers have an interest in working with senior citizens; whereas, others are passionate about treating whole families.

For a sole provider practice, finding one’s niche is extremely important. This will keep the provider engaged in the care that they are providing, and – equally important – patients will notice that the provider is passionate about the care they are providing and, thus, the patient will be more likely to retain the relationship.

In multi-provider practices, there may be a need – where passions and aptitudes are diverse – to layout the idea niche for each provider.

This individualization may evolve into separate patient acquisition plans for each provider. This can be both beneficial – diversity in the composition of patients/consumers can help offset some risk in over-specializing – and challenging as the practice will need to tailor marketing messages to different demographics.

There are additional benefits to identifying and pursuing a niche.

If, for example, one’s preference is to work with elderly patients, one can then target patient education material to that demographic, assist billing staff in specializing in working with Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans, and focus one’s incentive coordinators on HEDIS measures that those plans incentivize heavily.

On the other hand, if a provider’s preference is to work with families, the educational material would change, and, perhaps, ancillary services would focus on whole family health – e.g., wise food choices, active lifestyles, and more sound family interpersonal dynamics.

In effect, finding a niche isn’t just about marketing in itself; rather, it encompasses everything from back-office staffing specializations to the general ambiance of the practice.

Once a niche has been identified, then the practice must define what differentiates it from competing practices – i.e., it must develop its value proposition. An accurate, concise, and powerful value proposition helps focus the practice team on what their strengths are, who their customers are, and helps to convert potential patients into satisfied patients.

For example, perhaps a practice is an internal medicine group with a focus on diabetic and pre-diabetic patients. The practice may, as a value proposition, perform A1C screenings and micro/microalbumin tests with onsite lab equipment to better convenience patients, and, there may be a registered dietician and care manager on staff that works with at-risk patients to either manage an existing diagnosis or prevent pre-diabetes from becoming diabetes; moreover, financial assistance staff would likely be trained in navigating through patient assistance programs for the major diabetic equipment manufacturers.

The goal is to demonstrate to patients – to retain them – and to potential patients within the practice’s niche that the practice provides optimal value for their current and future health needs and can offer them more value for their healthcare dollars than competing practices.

Don’t believe us? Look at Davita, Sloan Kettering for examples.. And learn from them. They didn’t get to where they are by serving everyone and everything in their specialties.


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