Okay, I’m breathing a sigh of relief as I start this! The next part is much easier for me, because it’s not about me, it’s about you!
In my previous posts I told a story that I really didn’t want to tell, but knew was important. It was about my childhood leukemia diagnosis, and all the ways that shaped my life and outlook. And it did something else too. It gave me an intense and abiding appreciation for the field of medicine and the professionals who practice it, committed doctors like you. It showed me how important and underappreciated medical doctors are. They are the first people we meet, and often the last people we see in our lives. They fill this role with respect, grace, and compassion. And they save lives. Lives like mine. It is because of the work of doctors that I lived past the 6 months I was initially given at my diagnosis, 6 months that have turned into 4 decades. That’s 4 decades of joys, sorrows, triumphs, defeats, relationships, career success, motherhood, marriage, friendships, cats, and even more dogs along the way. I have doctors to thank for all of it, and so I have made it my mission to support them where I see that they need it most.
Because of my complicated health I received countless treatments from equally as many doctors. I have met and observed so very many of them. And I love them. But I also see their struggles, and they’re the same struggles today as they were when I began my medical journey all those years ago.
They are struggles that make the marketplace feel more challenging and discouraging than it should.
They are struggles that prevent them from reaching and treating all of the patients they could, patients who need them, and patients whose lives would greatly benefit from knowing about them.
And, most importantly, they are struggles that rob doctors of the joy, appreciation, and recognition that they deserve for the selfless and life-affirming work that they do.
Yes, my life, and the considerable exposure to doctors that it brought me, has shown me again and again that doctors simply don’t know how to market themselves and because of this they miss out on the full measure of patient contact, profitability, acclaim, and customer satisfaction that they so richly deserve.
And it’s not their fault! Everything about the way doctors are educated in the modern world leads to the result that they simply don’t understand how to think about promoting themselves in the marketplace. And if they did their practices would transform!
They would attract MORE patients.
They would attract BETTER patients.
They would attract HAPPIER patients.
They would attract patients who TRUST them.
In my estimation, it really comes down to trust. Doctors want patients to trust them, and patients want to trust their doctors. Sounds simple, right? What gets in the way? Again, it’s no one’s fault, but I think there are three major strikes against doctors that cause trust to break down, and they run deep, deep down to the very nature of the profession and its institutions of training. But awareness is the first step, and so here are the three major areas I have recognized that interfere with doctor-patient trust, culled from observations made over the course of my medically-complicated life, and they work against the doctor before the patient ever walks through the door.
- Training – Doctors are trained to think scientifically, not to communicate persuasively. Yes, every doctor has a doctorate, but it’s almost never in business. And if you’re running a practice, you are an entrepreneur, whether you realize it or not. Doctors tell me and over and over that they were never trained in business or marketing at any point during the numerous years of their medical education and, in larger practices, depend on their CEOs and boards to make business and marketing decisions. When they run their own practices they encounter challenging areas of business that they know nothing about, and for this they pay a price. Google doesn’t care that you’re a doctor – it expects you to know the same things as the hardware store next door to maximize your SEO.
- Technicality – Doctors are used to publishing highly technical papers in journals and presenting at conferences for other doctors, but communicating to the general public is a much different animal. The general public doesn’t care how you perform your surgery, what kind of equipment you use, or what grade of drugs you have access to. As a doctor, if you go to a financial advisor and they start using all of their industry jargon and 3-letter initials, your head will spin and you will lose trust in them. Ultimately, you want to know they will take care of you, solve your problem, and create a result that will make you feel good. And so it is with your patients. They don’t care how you would describe the procedure to a fellow doctor – they just care how their life will improve as a result.
- Time – To be a doctor is to have no time. Between seeing patients, doing rounds, insurance paperwork, medical notes, keeping up with the industry, managing the practice and staff, and everything else, doctors just don’t have time to wear a marketing hat. And that’s okay, because we need you to do what you do best, which is treating your patients. But, you can’t use this as an excuse to neglect your marketing. It simply means you need to find someone who DOES have the time, knowledge, and experience. This is why I do what I do. I believe so strongly in the mission of doctors everywhere that I decided to make my personal mission about using my time to help them do what they don’t have time for, but really need.
Now that you know the three strikes that are working against patients trusting you, you can get to work overcoming them. And the tool that you use is marketing. Because a good marketer looks at the way their business communicates on every level, and trust is cultivated through clear, compelling communication. Need a hand? Like I said, I’ve watched doctors struggle with this as long as I can remember, and I’ve learned to speak the language they need on every level. Let’s connect so I can support you in supporting your patients. Just reach out here.