Building a Patient Base in Family Practice



The whole point of a family practice is treating patients. Once the clinic is set up, staffed and all the necessary systems in place, it's time to cultivate a client base.

Referrals
The first step in getting referrals from other physicians is in letting those physicians know you are available. If you've applied for and been approved for hospital privileges, attend meetings and get to know other physicians. Make an effort to meet local surgeons and other professionals. Social workers, dentists, nurses, daycare owners, chiropractors, and pharmacists come into contact with large numbers of people.

Advertising
Run announcements in local newspapers and on radio. Consider using a professional mailing service to send out announcements. A professional mailing service will have targeted mailing lists making it possible to send the announcements to those people most likely to seek treatment at the family practice.

Some physicians swear by postcards. The postcards announcing the family practice are sent to both medical professionals and individuals. It costs less to send a postcard than it does a letter and people are usually more likely to read the postcard. The hospital marketing department may have a service in place for announcing new physicians in the area.
Ads aren't the only way to get the family practice noticed in the newspaper. Health information articles, notices of special prices for certain services, and frequently asked question columns in newspapers are good ways to advertise.
Create brochures advertising the family practice and give them to local Chamber of Commerce and Welcoming Services. The brochure should state general information including where the family practice is located, what services are provided. The physician's photo and personal information, including credentials, should also be in the brochure. It's generally recommended that staff photos not be included.

Website
Internet websites aren't considered productive advertising methods. They are a necessity, however. The Internet is becoming a household tool and people hearing about the family practice are likely to check it out online.
Do make sure the family practice has an Internet presence featuring a website that reflects the tone and general target audience of the practice. This is a good place to feature staff photos and information. It's much easier to update a web page if staffing changes than it is to change brochures and print information.

Newsletter
A family practice newsletter can be a good way to build and maintain the patient base. With the popularity, ease and low cost of email newsletters, the newsletter has become a cost effective means of family practice advertising. Some family practice newsletters are available in both print and electronic editions. Easy to use software makes it possible for clinics to do their own newsletters in house and save money.

When considering a family practice newsletter, it's important to decide how often the newsletter will be published and in what forms. The minimum frequency is four times a year. Monthly newsletters require more dedication as well as time. Delivery will have to be decided, whether print, electronic or both.

One advanced marketing method using the electronic newsletter is to create a series of health information emails. Put a signup box on the website and in the newsletter, giving readers the option of subscribing. By using an autoresponder, the health information emails can be delivered over a dedicated period of time. The more people hear or read the information, the more they remember the family practice. Even if they don't need healthcare, they may be asked by a friend or neighbor to recommend a health care facility.

Getting patients to a new family practice is all about getting the word out. Attend medical meetings, organizational meetings and community gatherings. Let pharmacists, social workers and others know the family practice is open and accepting new patients. Get in touch with surgeons and others who refer patients. Advertise online and in the community. When patients do arrive, let them know that you appreciate the opportunity to help them manage health issues.




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