Recently we covered the issue of marketing your medical practice to Millenials, the biggest generation group in human history. That got us thinking – what about the other generation groups? We know that they have vastly different needs and wants, but healthcare services are a must for pretty much everyone.
How does medical marketing differ from one group to the next, and what can you do to make your services appeal specifically to each group? Let’s consider the Baby Boomers, for example, which is the group currently reaching retirement age.
Private practices are organized in a corporate model where the physicians are shareholders, or where one or more physicians own the practice and employ other physicians or providers. Private practices are almost exclusively for-profit. Physician practices are organized into corporations for the tax benefits as well as protecting the owners from liability judgments.
Hospitals can be for-profit, not-for-profit or government-owned. For-profit hospitals make up less than 20% of the total hospitals in the United States.
Private practice owners take a salary draw, split any receipts after all expenses are paid, and generally distribute receipts monthly or quarterly. This leaves very little at year end to be taxed through the corporation.
Hospitals that employ physicians typically guarantee a salary and offer an incentive plan where the physicians earn more for seeing more patients and/or being more productive based on work Relative Value Units (wRVUs). Hospitals may or may not use a practice expense and revenue model to measure the margin.
Benefits of Managing a Private Practice
You get to do everything, so if you like or want to learn about HR, marketing, finance, IT, contract negotiation, revenue cycle management, facility management, and lots of other stuff, you’ll get to do it in a private practice.
You are the top position in the practice, so you get to put your imprint on the practice. You can often be more creative.
Physicians can be very laid-back and practices can maintain a more relaxed, family-like atmosphere.
Decision-making can be straightforward and swift, so you can help your practice to be nimble in response to news events, trends and new ideas. If your practice decides to become a concierge practice or stop or start taking a particular payer, so be it!
You may find it easier to get a foot in the door and start your management career in a private practice as physicians don’t always hire managers using traditional means. A recommendation from another manager, a consultant or a physician may be enough to get you started.
Drawbacks of Managing a Private Practice
You report to the physicians who may not have business expertise and may fight you on your well-founded recommendations.
There is no internal career path – you’re at the top in the practice.
Physicians will make less money every time a new non-revenue generating position is added or any time equipment needs to be replaced – expect them to be generally slow to respond to capital expenditure needs, especially if they cannot see that any new revenue will come from the expense.
When physicians “eat what they kill”, taking home the dollars they personally earn less their expenses, they can be pitted against each other and have conflicting priorities.
Your practice could be purchased by a hospital and you could find yourself out of a job, or your job radically changed.
Benefits of Managing a Hospital-Owned Practice
You report to a management professional who should understand the business and be supportive of your well-founded recommendations.
You will receive support from other hospital departments: the Human Resources department will screen, orient and provide benefit support to your staff; the Information Systems department will provide and maintain your practice management system, EMR system and other hardware and software; and the Accounting department will pay the bills and write the payroll.
You may be able to climb the career ladder and manage multiple practices, or become the Vice President of Physician Practices, or the COO, CFO or CEO of the hospital.
You will get to interact with managers of other departments and broaden your hospital knowledge and understanding of the care continuum.
You can learn a lot from the process of preparing for and living through a JCAHO (a.k.a. “The Joint Commission”) visit.
Drawbacks of Managing a Hospital-Owned Practice
Hospitals use different terminology for charges, adjustments and receipts and work on the accrual system instead of the cash system, which most private practices use. It takes time to understand and distinguishes the terminology and process differences.
The entire system will be in a tizzy on a regular basis getting ready for a JCAHO (a.k.a. “The Joint Commission”) visit.
You can expect to have much less autonomy in a hospital system and there may be more red tape involved in getting even simple requests filled.
Hospital administration may find it difficult to relate to the perspective of the hourly staff and it could be frustrating to balance the needs of the staff and the needs of the organization.
Because the hospital is the big-dollar earner, the needs of the clinics may be second, third or fourth down the line in importance.
What do you see as the benefits or drawbacks of your private practice or hospital practice job?
A QR (Quick Response or Quick Read) Code is a two-dimensional matrix/bar code. Users hold their phone up to the code displayed on a sign, in a book, on a computer screen, tv, or almost anywhere. The phone camera snaps the code and takes the user to a website or video with more information – no typing needed – just point and click.
QR Codes are most common in Japan where they are currently the most popular type of two dimensional codes. (definition courtesy of Mashapedia = wikipedia and Mashable)
Billboards advertising hospitals and medical groups will have QR codes so travelers can get more information about facilities or get directions to the closest Emergency Department, Urgent Care or family practice.
Television advertising for pharmaceuticals will have QR codes so viewers can get more information on the spot.
Healthcare facilities will have QR codes for all types of information and videos that providers and nurses will instruct patients to scan based on their health problems.
Magazines and newspapers will have QR codes that readers can scan to get health information and health product coupons.
Scanning QR codes when exercising or purchasing healthy foods will get you reward points with your health plan, your doctor or your employer.
Comparison of foods that you should or should not buy in grocery stores based on your individual health problems will be easy when you scan the food’s QR codes.
Caregivers will scan QR codes to receive information and videos for caring for their loved one at home.
When purchasing over the counter medications, vitamins and supplements, you will scan the QR to make sure the medication isn’t contraindicated for any prescription medication you are taking.
Scanning the QR code on food or cleaning products will let you know if they contain anything that you are allergic to.
At health fairs, attendees will scan QR codes for more information on health topics and your facility and services.
Disposable diapers will each come with a unique QR code that Moms (and babies) can scan to get childcare tips, games, songs and medical advice.
Urgent Care facilities and Emergency Rooms will have QR codes for instant access to wait times.
QR codes in healthcare facilities will let users download helpful mobile healthcare applications like those that help you control your chronic illness or lose weight.
In print advertising for physicians, potential patients will scan the QR code to view the physicians talking about their background, their specialties and their desire to have you as a new patient!
Referring patients to facilities or specialty practices will be much easier when patients scan the QR code for the referral and receive information, instructions and directions to the appointment.
Healthcare facilities will give out t-shirts and carrying bags promoting their services and the QR codes on them will spread the word to others. (Yes, people will scan each others’ t-shirt codes!)
Patients taking home holter monitors and CPAPs will be able to scan the QR code on the machine to get a “how-to” video on using it.
Patients taking home sample medications from physician offices will have QR codes on the bag to scan to remember how they are to take the samples.
Temporary tatoo QR codes will identify those patients who won’t wear identifying bracelets, have dementia, or tend to wander away.
Hospital patients will scan the menu broadcast on their TV to order their daily meals.
If you are going to be late to your doctor’s appointment, you will scan a QR code to email an alert to the office that you are on the way. (Wait, maybe that’s too easy!)
Pharmacies will have QRs loaded with prescription prices by insurance company plan on their website so providers can compare different drugs and chose the best drug for the patient at the best price.
I am about to use SurveyMonkeyagain. The first time I used SurveyMonkey was to ask the staff questions about benefits. I knew that we were facing some big health insurance premium increases and I wanted to know what employees’ priorities were. SurveyMonkey walked me through the process of designing a simple survey (10 questions) and compiled the results for me.
I presented the results of the survey at my first quarterly staff meeting and discussed what my challenges were in trying to meet the needs of the employees and the needs of the organization in choosing a health plan. The use of the survey tool and my discussion of the results let the staff know that their feedback counts.
Now, we’re designing a new office and I am soliciting information (not anonymous this time) about what people value in a workspace and what their needs are for technology and comfort. Feedback from the staff is that they like being asked what they think and enjoy the surveys. Feedback from me is that SurveyMonkey is easy to use and at $20.00 per month for unlimited surveys, it’s a tool that delivers the value.
Here are some other ways you might use surveys:
Put a survey on your practice website.
Put a survey on a computer monitor or tablet in your reception area.
Send a survey to patients via email.
Ask the staff or docs at referring physician practices to complete a quick survey about the service you provide to their patients.
If you’ve sent patients for tests, therapy or surgery, have them complete a survey about their experiences.
Have a computer for surveys at health fairs asking visitors to participate for a chance to win a prize.
Add a link on all marketing materials to a community survey.