I was listening to a webinar the other day and a question that I have heard countless times asked of me, somehow got turned around in my head. I started thinking of how it applied towards my clients. The question: What differentiates you from everyone else who has the same credentials?
How many physicians' practices are going to say they have no idea? Many practices have board certified and/or board eligible physicians on staff. Many follow the rules and “best practices” they learned in medical school. Many are competent physicians. So what does differentiate you?
The next question: Why do you care? You are a competent physician who receives referrals from other physicians and the hospital, what can possibly make you interested in knowing what about your practice is different? Let’s take it from another angle. You receive referrals from other physicians. Why? Is it because you do something extra or is it because they have to give out a list of at least three physicians in your specialty? You receive referrals from the hospital. Why? For the same reasons as the other doctors?
And from another angle, why do you give referrals? Because a practice is nearby? The physician gives something special to the patient experience? They are the only specialist in your area with that specialty expertise? These are questions you really need to have a handle on. And, if there is nothing that differentiates you then I see a very dim future for your practice.
Let’s say you decide you want to join other physicians in a group; or conversely you want other physicians to join you. Why would they want you to join them or vice versa? Let’s go to the next step and you decide you want to sell your practice; either because you are retiring or you want a hospital to deal with all those things you don’t want to have to handle. Why would they want to pay top dollar for a practice that is the “norm”? Would you want to pay top dollar for anything that is average? I don’t think so.
So, what can you do or be that differentiates you from the pack? The following are a couple of suggestions that you have probably heard before; either from me or other bloggers, patients, etc.
1. Be a huge proponent of the Golden Rule.
2. Use technology to make your life easier as well as for your staff and patients.
3. Have hours that actually mean something to a working person.
4. When running late, let a patient know and help to reschedule
5. Use the Internet for contacting those patients who are comfortable with that form of communication.
6. Have front desk staff that actually care and portray that each day to each patient.
7. Teach your staff good customer service.
8. Use current information and don’t rely on what you learned just in medical school.
9. Work with people.
10. Have knowledge or a skill no one else does.
These are just some of the things you can do to differentiate yourself with your patients. If you have happy patients, they tell others 20 percent of the time. If they are upset, they tell others 80 percent of the time. Word-of-mouth on the street is either working for or against you. There is no in-between.
I then believe you need to have the same type of attitude with other physicians as well as with the hospitals in the area. The more you work with them, the better your reputation and the more they will work with you.
All of this work to differentiate yourself and your practice is worth money. It is either going to garner you more patients and let you remain independent, if that is your goal. Or, it will garner you interest from parties who might just be willing to pay top dollar for your practice or they may want to jump on board with you. It gives you options!
Find out more about Sue Irwin and our other Practice Notes bloggers.