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Daily Archives: 12/11/2017

5 ways to build the brand loyalty of your physicians

Loyalty is something someone bestows upon us. We can’t demand it, and we can’t buy it. Yet, allegiance is priceless, especially in marketing and brand reputation. What role does your brand play in earning the trust of doctors?

The following five strategies can help you partner with physicians and create heightened brand loyalty:

1. Start with your shared promise.        

In my many visits to hospitals across the country, I’m always amazed at the “us vs. them” mentality. When I meet with stakeholders, the differences between physicians and hospital staff seem to come up early and often.

We have been able to bridge the gap when we focus on what unites everyone, as opposed to what is divisive. The uniting element is the brand promise. It’s the unique value proposition you make to patients. When your brand promise comes from a genuine, believable place in your organization, common ground is often found within it.

People are more loyal to a brand when they believe there are shared values, mission and vision. They understand where the organization is today, where it’s headed and how people might work together to reach the collective vision. 

FREE DOWNLOAD: How to manage online patient feedback and brand reputation

2. Build your brand around the needs of the patient.        

Consumers must be the center. Focus on doing what is best for the patient at all points. Move beyond “clinical care” and meet your patients wherever they are.

As health care intersects with retail, we see consumer-based business models and retail’s best practices take root. The consumer-oriented perspective that guides Amazon now applies to you, because patient expectations are changing as well.

Not only will being patient-centered build your brand, it will enhance partnerships. Physicians will recognize a groundswell of patient preference and brand loyalty, and they’ll be more likely to engage and participate.

Physicians want to work with hospitals that treat their patients well and guide them back to the referring physician after treatment. Committing to your physicians about post-op management is essential.

3. Treat physicians as human beings.        

Patients often see doctors as miracle workers; and peers call them superstars. However high the pedestal they are placed on, they are simply people.

To understand human desires, look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Your brand can play a significant role in satisfying these necessities, particularly the top three:

  • Belonging

  • Esteem

  • Self-actualization

By its very nature, a brand creates a sense of belonging in the people who have affinity to it. The stronger your brand, the stronger its attraction becomes.

As a brand gains momentum, it will get noticed by patients, other physicians and journalists. You can achieve esteem that equals the prominence many physicians aspire to. You may hear them say proudly, “Of course I want to work with this hospital; it’s one of the best in the region.” This can bring fulfillment to doctors who want to feel that they (and their colleagues) have reached their professional and personal potential.

4. Encourage two-way communication.

In all relationships it takes work to succeed. Most of the heavy lifting of that work is carried out with solid, two-way communication. Physicians want to be heard. They’ve pooled years of education and experiences into a deep knowledge. Providers may diminish the value of their training if it’s not put to good use. Listening to doctors is essential if they are to feel like they are treated with the regard they deserve. Remember, there can’t be buy-in without giving someone an opportunity to express themselves. Even if their suggestions don’t make the final cut, giving people an opportunity to be heard reinforces that they are relevant and respected.

Physicians also want to hear what is going on within the health system, even beyond their initial clinical sphere. What’s more, they usually want to be ahead of the loop. Giving physicians’ pre-presentations on important topics before the rank-and-file sees the information is an easy way to show you value their time and expertise.

One-on-one messaging is often the most effective communication. We have seen health systems make great strides in physician engagement when they add an in-house physician relations team to their staff. When you have people who specifically keep a pulse on physician engagement, it’s easier to detect trouble and maximize strengths.

5. Invite them to participate, not observe.

Physicians are the product you offer patients. It wouldn’t make sense to leave your product on the sidelines of a brand strategy. Get doctors actively involved. Since they are such a crucial element of the brand-driven patient experience, invite them to help shape your brand.

There are a few ways to accomplish this. You can put providers in front of your community at local screenings and seminars. They can share advice with you on what patients are looking for, as this can help refine your brand’s message points.

Advertising campaigns, while not compromising your strategy, should make your physicians feel they are on top of the world. Allow them to take center stage. Pick the “best of the best” to act as role models for the rest of your physicians. When you feature physicians who can raise the hospital’s brand, you will bring new business opportunities to other physicians. The result? You elevate their innate competitive instincts to perform better.

Building long-term physician loyalty requires time. It’s not created through a postcard and a few meetings. It’s built on an organizational attitude and commitment. Brand loyalty comes from listening, trust and the fulfilment of promises you make. Trust comes when doctors believe that their health system is as committed to their patients as they are.

Tim Roberts is president and CEO at Franklin Street. The original version of this post was published on the company website.

Previously published material.
HealthCareCommunication.com