For some physicians, marketing does not always begin with a deliberate plan.
Virginia-Moreno Thornley, MD, a neurologist in Sarasota, Fla., did not intentionally set out to promote her practice when she attended a charity event for a local epilepsy group. She was primarily focused on giving back to the community, an effort that was encouraged by her boss. She met the CEO of the charity organization and offered to give talks and question-and-answer seasons for a patient group.
“It went so well that patients started coming to see me because of those talks,” Morley says. But even more importantly, Morley believes that a strong work ethic is really the most effective method of marketing for a physician’s practice. “After they see you, patients will return to their physical therapists and family to tell them about you,” she says.
Fierstein’s pediatrics practice also holds direct-to-patient events, giving talks at Babies “R” Us to provide information to parents. She explains that some physicians do not participate in these types of community events, because it is difficult for time-pressed doctors to know whether speaking engagements, which can be time consuming, are effective.
Using print materials is still an effective method of reaching patients and other physicians.
“I feel like I have gotten a crash course in marketing by necessity,” says Susan Maltser, MD, a physical medicine and rehabilitation doctor, who started a cancer rehabilitation program at Northwell Health in Long Island, N.Y.
In addition to attending community events and giving grand rounds for physician specialty groups that refer patients for rehabilitation, she also uses brochures as part of the marketing plan. “I have two types of brochures: one for patients and one for physicians,” Maltser explains. “The patient brochures are disease-specific and cover conditions such as breast cancer and head and neck cancer, and include locations where we provide services,” she says.
Patient-directed brochures are accessible, describing the effects of cancer, while physician directed brochures are succinct and focused on practical coordination of care. “The physician brochures are one page and list all the conditions we treat, but in medical jargon,” she explains.