Big-name businesses dominate the conversation and are the major employers in town, but every city has its share of local businesses.
These are the smaller, locally owned companies that are the backbone of a community. These are the people who sponsor Little League teams and Pop Warner football. And when combined, these businesses generally employ more people than the big name in town. Your practice is one of those local businesses.
At the same time, your practice should also be part of the backbone of the community. And becoming the “company physician” to your local businesses is a great way to build your place in the community and grow your practice. It’s not that hard.
You may already know many of these business owners, and the human resource directors who work for them. In fact, you are likely to find them among your patient panel now. And that is the first place to look.
Using your practice management system, identify the employers represented among your patients, and then from that, identify among your patients the “leaders” in these businesses.
Consider meeting with these leaders, making sure you are known to them beyond just being their doctor. Prepare a presentation for your local businesses, with information about you, the credentials attesting to the quality of your care, and the health plans you participate with. Then add your willingness to accommodate their employees with some added-value propositions.
Local businesses need a workforce able to work, and they want their employees and their families to be healthy and able to punch-in. Absences can affect them more than they would a big company, so if you offer wellness as a complementary service to your local businesses, you can improve your relationship with their employees while marketing your practice.
For example, give them a hotline—a phone number your office manager answers—that they can call and fit in a sick employee on demand. If you participate with workers’ compensation, let them know that you will fit in employees hurt on the job for minor injuries, saving them hospital emergency room costs and lost worktime.
Offer to teach
And take another look at your diagnosis mix among the employees of a particular business (while maintaining HIPAA security). Propose some educational programs at that business to improve the health of the workforce or reduce the risk of illness or injury.
If a business is too small to host an educational program, use your own waiting room after hours, or perhaps find space at a local church or school. And if the program is offered off-site, open it up to the community, turning it into a larger marketing opportunity.
Your program topics can come right from the common diagnoses among your patient base, which keeps the topics relevant. Augment your own teaching with the services of friends (those to whom you refer to or receive referrals from). Include other physicians, and non-physicians such as nutritionists and podiatrists. You might even invite your local pharmacist to do some education, too.
Educating the community is one of the least costly marketing strategies available to medical professionals. Hospitals routinely host lunch-and-learns, and dinner-with-the-doctor programs. Using your relationships with local businesses, you have a ready avenue for promoting your programs. Your local newspaper can post your event in their calendar.
When you position yourself as the doctor that local businesses turn to, their employees—your patients—become recommenders and referrers.
Generally, you cannot compete with the massive advertising budgets of hospitals and larger groups, and there is no reason to try. Instead, outsmart them by creating a broad-based network of local businesses that you provide with special advantages, and who see you as their companies’ “go-to” doctor.
You will be positioned as the expert and find that business leaders will reach out to you for guidance when considering their health benefit plans, and here you can have a real impact on helping your patients and influencing what happens to your practice.
Alex Tate has served leading health IT organizations for the past 20 years. Most recently, he was vice president and CIO at a leading private-practice EMR organization. His work with startups and academic research centers aims at technologies to improve health care. He can be contacted at email@example.com or through curemd.com.