INTER-PHYSICIAN MARKETING – What is it ?
One of the goals of CareerMedicine (www.CareerMedicine.com) is to talk about topics which even we physicians hesitate to talk about. Physicians not only market their medical practice to patients, but also to other physicians, who can refer patients to them. It is a legit topic to discuss. For this purpose, lets coin it a term: Inter-Physician Marketing.
We define Inter-Physician Marketing as the subtle (but legal !) art with which physicians try to encourage their other colleagues to refer patients to them.
There is a difference though in medicine. In Medicine, kick backs or commissions are not allowed in return for referrals. Any attempt to do so will trigger Stark Laws and can wreck havoc on the medical practice. Having said that, Inter-Physician Marketing when done ethically without any commissions or kickbacks, is a perfect way of developing a medical practice. For specialist there is no other way to survive a medical practice start up. They have to do Inter Physician Marketing, as referrals is the primary source of patients for specialists. For doctors in primary care, Inter-Physician Marketing is not the first thing they think of, but they can take advantage of this tool to accelerate the growth of their medical practice.
When a new physician arrives to this town, where the referral patterns are already set, how does he break into the circle ?
1) The new physician in town will send a letter out to all other physicians letting them know he has opened a new medical practice.
2) The new physician will go around to other medical offices and introduce himself or herself.
3) The new physician will enroll on the unassigned call list for his specialty in the Emergency Room.
4) The new physician will be quick to respond to consult request, give a good service to the patient and update the referring physician on the treatment plan.
5) The new physician will try his best to accomodate same day appointments for emergency referrals, thus relieving the referring physician.
6) The new physician will try to go to as many professional meetings as he could to get a chance to introduce himself. AKA Self marketing.
All these actions are to break down the barrier other physicians may have to refer patients to a new physician in the town. In our next post we will discuss the details and what are some good ways for inter-physician marketing. Till then think about it…..it is not eew, its just business !