What are the top issues in a medical practice that are NOT do-it-yourself?
A key area where many go it alone – and do it themselves – is practice marketing and social media. Marketing (which to many means ‘a website’) regularly falls on the practice manager’s shoulders, and oftentimes the practice manager gets it wrong.
Why is marketing so important? It’s important because – as we hurtle toward the implementation of ACA – patients will have more (not less) choice in the decision-making process of finding their preferred physicians. This means they will want and need more relevant information to make those decisions. A practice website, its social media presence and patient reviews will make or break the decision for many new patients, and many practices are still not online and do not actively manage their reviews. Some 90% of all medical practitioners use social media (personally and professionally), and the AMA reported that 71% of state medical associations have already had disciplinary proceedings against physicians for violating their codes of conduct. It’s a potential powder keg (see my blog post here: http://cranecreek.com/wordpress/ama-advises-doctors-to-be-responsible-in-their-communications-and-regularly-track-their-online-presence/).
Although most physicians rely on referrals for bringing on new patients, the AMA reported that only 15% of new patients came from direct specialist referrals (see appended infographic). That means 85% of patients are finding their doctor another way. What has become commonplace for patients is to use search engines (Google) and review websites to find a practitioner. More than 55% of new patients found their doctor this way; but only 20% of doctors have websites (also according to the AMA) – and more than 65% of them were rated sub-standard for consumers.
A vast majority of medical websites are botch jobs that were done by website designers who know little about what medical practices need to achieve from websites and marketing (mainly because most medical practices don’t know what they need to achieve). This is both unprofessional and alarming, and shows a lack of understanding of the market, patients and the internet savvy medical consumer. In many cases, it is insulting to patients who want to have a greater say in their medical care.
2. Why is the “do-it-yourself” philosophy becoming so popular?
DIY has always been a popular option for professional practices – doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc. – especially when it comes to areas of the practice where the practitioner has a ‘bit of knowledge’. Many say that ‘a little knowledge can be dangerous’, and in many DIY instances, it’s true! DIY is best left for gardening and car repairs (if you are an enthusiast), although I wouldn’t recommend changing brake drums and pads unless you are very confident in your ability.
Although many professionals bring in large incomes, the last thing they want to do is spend that income on what may be considered extraneous and superfluous expenses. This includes outreach to patients, marketing, business development (“what is that?” they might ask), and many other practice related areas including websites, social media and networking.