Steps for Marketing your Psychiatry Practice | Simplemachine
Due to an increasing number of patients who pay for out-of-pocket care, marketing has become critical to any psychiatry practice. Like any business, a practice needs a marketing campaign complete with taglines and mission statements to differentiate from the competition. If you emphasize you are a leader in your specific field, others are more likely to remember you.
One of the greatest marketing challenges within this field is that mental health patients are unlikely to promote your practice via word-of-mouth to friends, family, and colleagues. This means that you will have to find creative methods of promoting your own services. Prior to beginning an advertising campaign, it is important to view your current state of operations to apply to future marketing techniques. Without quality operations, the marketing expense and effort will be wasted.
Step #1 – Determine your Marketing Baseline
You must start your psychiatry practice marketing plan with a quick snapshot of your practice. A baseline review aids in determining the starting point of marketing efforts. Perhaps you uncover that your referral base is solely dependent on the office located down the hallway but you wish to get referrals from other groups like primary care doctors. You may also determine that most of your clients are adults but you would like to be more involved with pediatric referrals. Once your baseline assessment is performed, you can create a marketing plan that is around 12 months out.
Step #2 – Build on your Current Operations
The Medical Group Management Association found that a single-specialty practice with under three full-time physicians spends $1,486 per physician on marketing costs. Most practices spend less than half of a percent of total revenue on marketing and family practices spend just $2,190 per year per physician. Therefore, when reviewing your budget, you will notice expenses like postage, copy machine maintenance, malpractice insurance, and employee salaries and benefits, none of which improves your net profit.
Although these are all necessary costs, marketing and promotions positively impact your revenue. Therefore, the easiest method of improving your marketing process is by building on your current operations instead of drastically changing them. The cost and effort of retaining existing patients who continue with care are minimal. However, retaining patients for a scheduled appointment is a critical aspect of internal marketing. To retain current patients, you need to implement appointment reminder systems by telephone, email or text. Set realistic goals for building on your current operations and achieve them in small steps.
Step #3 – Develop a Website
Websites are now one of the most valuable marketing tools available. With easily-searchable information available at your fingertips, few potential clients use the phone book. A website is well worth the investment as it gives new leads access to your information as well as content about your promotions, events, industry news or anything to do with your practice. Once you have developed content, you can produce a brochure to help patients find your website.
Step #4 – Target Desirable Insurance Providers
An additional critical step is to target specific insurance providers. Once you have assessed your current insurance companies, you can widen the network by going online and researching government agencies that manage insurance carriers within your state. While you are performing the research, you will want to get a list of Employee Assistance Programs for the largest employers in the area. You can contact Human Resources at each company to learn more about the mental health benefits they offer to their employees. Let them know that you work locally and provide specific mental health services as you tout all of the benefits of your practice.
Finding the most commonly-used insurance providers for your practice is critical because you want to accept a wide number of providers to accommodate new patients. You’re losing a client if he or she calls and asks if you accept XYZ insurance and you don’t. This is even worse if one of the major employers in the area uses that insurance provider. You have then basically taken profit from your bank account and handed it to the competition who accepts that insurance.
What to Avoid
There are many common pitfalls that psychiatric practices engage in such as sending repeat bills or “this is not a bill” statement. This is an excessive amount of paperwork that annoys patients and wastes your office supplies. To avoid this, simply tell your billing company to write-off the smaller balances and don’t send patient notices for amounts less than the cost of postage.
Also, avoid being sold a product or service that does not fit into your 12-month marketing plan. For instance, a salesperson could convince you to buy a full-page advertisement within a publication. Avoid this type of “spaghetti marketing,” which is like throwing pasta at a wall and seeing what sticks.
In summary, understanding the end results of your strategy including figures like return on investment will help encourage you to expand upon your marketing plan. One simple method of tracking your result is to list the ways in which you market. You can also ask new patients to provide feedback about what they have heard in the community about your practice. Make sure to check off the goals as you complete them.