Do you really put your patients first?

First of all, please don't skip this article thinking you've heard it all before. Yes you do know that the patient truly pays your bills, but time and time again, when consulting with new clients, I catch examples of mixed messages going out. Are you trying to attract new patients? Or attract the glorious attention of your peers? I don't know how you practice medicine, but I have yet to see a doctor get a check from one of their competitors saying "I was impressed with your ad, here's $1000."

Let's get down to business. In browsing through a copy of our local newspaper, my eye caught sight of an ad for a local cosmetic surgeon (who is not a private client of ours or an Inner Circle member).

I have not scanned the ad and posted it on this blog, due to internet-sharing rules (plus, most importantly, I don't want to embarrass him). However, the picture shows an upscale, beautiful building surrounded by palm trees, with the granite company sign out front and a picture of a beautiful woman, clearly plucked straight from the runways of Paris. The headline reads “You Come First.”

So, what’s wrong with this ad?

Well, at first sight this ad does grab attention. It's a beautiful building, it contains a bold headline, uses great color and shows the photo of a pretty woman.

Here's the problem.

But supposedly, at this practice, I COME FIRST. If I do come first, why are they showing me a picture of a beautiful office with palm trees and a big granite logo? And a photo of woman who looks absolutely nothing like me (that no amount of makeup or plastic surgery could ever accomplish!) Their supposed concern is about my appearance, right? If they were that concerned, why wouldn't the ad be more about me and my concerns instead of them and their building and the pretty model? Do you see the glaring disconnect here?

All too many times I see physicians' offices make the same mistake. They claim to be about the patient through and through, but their office, marketing, and sometimes attitudes reflect the best interests of the doctor and staff, rather than the best interests of the patient.

Take one simple example, the dental chair. This is built with the comfort of the doctor in mind. All her tools are easily within reach, stainless handles, 400 different adjustments, etc… Now what about the patient? They get an “ergonomic” vinyl banana seat to lay in, with a cold plastic cover. A colleague of mine had a root canal recently, and his only complaint was back pain from lying in the chair. (No root canal pain, just pain from the chair.)

Action to take: Take a look at your practice, and more importantly, take a look at your marketing. Ask yourself, what am I doing to run my practice for best interest of the patient? Then take your marketing and ask, “What am I doing to convey my patient benefits?” Remember, it's the patient who ultimately signs your check!