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Free Consulting! Loyalty, Branding, SpongeBob

March 24, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Practice Management
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Why do patients come to a radiology clinic?

“A recent poll of a healthy facility,” says radiology consultant David Rushing, “demonstrated that for every patient that came in ‘because my doctor told me to come here,’ three patients came because they were pleased with a prior visit.”

He adds, ominously:

Without this type of loyalty, it will be difficult to survive the impending overhaul to healthcare.

Rushing is operations manager for Medical Imaging Specialists, which has offices in New York, Atlanta, and New Orleans. He shares some advice in an article for Diagnostic Imaging titled “Turbulent Times Ahead for Independent Imaging Facilities.”

In essence, he advises: Look at your operation from your customers’ point of view. Then make the experience better for them.  Or, to put it another way: Make things more convenient for your patients, even if that means less convenience for yourself.

How? Some snippets:

  • “Diagnostic mammo should not be scheduled out more than one week—four days or less is preferable. Just ask yourself if you or your wife/mother would be happy to wait longer.”
  • “Your analysis may also lead you to discover that you would benefit from extending your service hours to accommodate more patients (think 30 MRIs instead of 17).”
  • “We have employed an audio/video entertainment system for our MRI patients at several facilities. … Sedation and claustrophobic cases went down, making the facilities more efficient. Imaging children became less of a production once we were able to allow them to watch SpongeBob.”
  • “Having a radiologist who is willing to offer face time to patients is one of the ways you can differentiate yourself from your competition.”

Speaking of differentiating yourself: Lonnie Hirsch says it’s crucial. He’s another consultant—cofounder of Healthcare Success Strategies, based in Irvine, California. His article “The Image of Imaging: Creating a Powerful, Distinguishing Brand” is on ImagingBiz.com.

“The good news is that, in health care marketing, there is no need to be a commodity,” he says. “The bad news is that imaging centers and radiology practices are doomed to remain invisible if they don’t differentiate.”

And you differentiate, he says, by developing a brand—a distinctive image of your business that immediately comes to your customer’s mind at the mention of your name.

“The ‘customer,'” Hirsch says, “is the individual physician who makes or could make a referral, the individual who self-refers and perhaps others, such as professional peers and the community at large.”

Why bother to develop a brand? Hirsch lists seven reasons, starting with: “People prefer to buy brands because they reduce perceived risk. Consumers (physicians, patients, prospective patients) are likely to turn to a recognized name expecting consistent and high-quality products or services.”

Check out both articles. In this economic and political climate, you need every edge you can get.

Related seminar: The Business of Radiology

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