I just moved to Iowa from Chicago and, for the first time in eight years, I am on the hunt for new medical providers…I need a new optometrist, dentist, family physician, dermatologist, OB/GYN, pediatrician and even a new pharmacy. I find it interesting that my quest to establish myself within my new community is preparing me for my new role at HRB as a Senior Healthcare Marketing Manager. Even though I’ve been working in the medical marketing industry for more than 5 years, I am just now becoming the ultimate healthcare consumer. This hunt is making me a better marketer.
The fact is, I’m able to take a more active role in my personal medical care than ever before. I have a seemingly endless amount of choices. So, where do I start?
First, I cast a wide net. I asked for opinions from trusted family and friends. I asked who they used and what they like and dislike about the providers. I want to know things like how quickly you can get an appointment, how long you have to wait in the office and how much time the physician or provider spends with you. People love giving their opinions – and trust me, their opinions are strong.
Next, I compared the names provided by my trusted advisors with the list of “in network” physicians on my insurance company’s website. There I’m able to see how long they’ve been in practice and what hospitals they are affiliated with. I can also see how close each provider is to my home. I narrowed my search to physicians within 10 miles. By doing this, I was able to cross off some names and come up with a short-list of finalists.
After that, I took my search to the internet. I Googled each physician and, when applicable, their partners. I read the reviews on Yelp.com and looked at their scores on RateMDs.com. I was pleasantly surprised that a few of the providers even had websites of their own for me to peruse. This online search enabled me to definitively cross a few names off of my list. One provider in particular had a long list of negative reviews. Even though a family member spoke highly of the practice, my online peers thought differently. Those negative notes were enough to completely discount a trusted personal source.
After I had whittled down my list to one or two providers in each category, I subjected the offices to the ultimate test – a phone call. I have worked with hundreds of medical practices over the last several years and I firmly believe that you can tell a lot about a practice just by the way the receptionist answers the phone. Three things I was looking for:
- How quickly was the phone answered? (in my book, a call should never ring more than twice. I don’t mind if you ask me to hold, but I want to know that you are responsive.)
- Is the receptionist friendly? (Chaos always ensues at the front desk of a medical practice – phones ring nonstop, patients are checking in and out, nurses are looking for charts. It goes on and on… but, that doesn’t mean it is OK to be short with the patients.)
- Is the receptionist knowledgeable? (I expect the front desk team to know the answers to basic operational questions, such as “What is the earliest appointment time that you offer?”)
So, my search was not a short one. However, it is complete and I feel completely confident in my choices. And, I feel even more confident that this experience will be an asset to my clients at HRB. I know that earning and maintaining patient trust is at the heart of every healthcare organization’s mission. In theory, hospital networks and private practice physicians build trust within their communities by providing unparalleled medical care and personal attention. But, it isn’t always easy for patients to know why they should choose one provider versus any other.
Perhaps I am extreme – some people would have stopped after getting a recommendation from a family member. Others may have called the first name on the list provided by their insurance company. My experience in the medical industry has taught me to be thorough and I will carry that to my clients. HRB Healthcare can help you engage your patients because we ARE your patients. We know what they look for and we will help you craft a message that builds your brand and builds the trust of your patients.