I was recently speaking with a surgeon who works in the Midlands. He got in touch when he suddenly found that the phones were going quiet and his patient numbers were dropping. Rapidly.
He said, “A year ago, I was the only shoulder surgeon in this patch. I used to get plenty of referrals. But then it all went away. It all changed when three other surgeons turned up.” I could hear he sounded worried and I pictured him imagining a gigantic rival orthopaedic hoover sucking up all of the available patients.
Quiet times in private practice can do weird things to your head. There’s nothing like a couple of empty operating lists to put the wind right up you. What’s interesting, is that the first response is so often a moment of catastrophization.
“Oh No! It’s all over! The market is too crowded and new kids on the block are grabbing all of the referrals!”
What’s also interesting, is that this is the exact same excuse that people will come up with for not setting up a practice in the first place. (Okay, I will agree that there may be some exceptions. Bermuda’s population is unlikely to provide sufficient patients to service seven frostbite clinics.)
Let’s take a few moments to debunk the myths about ‘the competition’, and what you can practically do to ensure that your practice thrives.
If you’re reading this blog, you are almost certainly British. We Brits don’t do defeat, so stiffen that top lip, rise to the challenge and get rolling those sleeves up.
Remember: Athletes succeed by running their own race. Yes, it’s important to know what your ‘competition’ is up to, but don’t let it distract you from taking action whilst you sit whining in the corner about how it all went away. Go and market yourself!
All of the jewellers in Hatton garden don’t do too badly in a small lane near Bart’s hospital, which has come to be known as a great place to buy an expensive rock for your loved one.
In my own private practice, I choose to work in one of the most crowded areas ever. It’s called London. I work in The Shard and the Wellington (which are part of the HCA hospitals group). Currently, 3538 other consultants are also doing the same. Are my clinics fully booked with patients that I love to help? Yep. Absolutely.
Here’s what to do if you feel like you are having a moment of the collywobbles in your private practice…
Everyone goes through this experience. Have a little pity party and a glass of wine. Then commit to sorting it out, the Private Practice Ninja way.
Remember: That so-called ‘competition’ is also raising awareness of your sector’s fabulous skills.
In the past, if you had a knee or ankle problem, chances are, you would automatically be sent to an Orthopaedic surgeon, even if you didn’t need surgery. Now, people have heard of alternatives, such as sports physicians. Why? Because there are more of us!
Get strategic. Nothing makes you feel better than taking action. Forget being reliant on others to market your practice. You need to be very proactive in this task. Yes, it takes time and effort. Be sure to focus your time and effort where it matters most.
Here are three activities that you should probably bin when you are trying to grow your private practice…
1. Give up expending huge amounts of effort, getting in front of GPs unless they are literally working in your building. It’s patients these days who decide whom they wish to be seen by. GP’s tend to be the rubber stampers.
2. Ditch those very expensive Google adverts that aren’t properly tracked. Google can be your friend, but let’s face it, are you really an SEO expert? Do you actually have a properly set up process that shows that the patient who clicked on your advert can be joined up with the patient that turned up at your practice? If you can’t accurately track it, how can you properly tweak those adverts and know you’re getting proper value for money?
3. Stop writing letters to potential referrers. This might have worked a few years ago, but in this day and age, there is absolutely no excuse for not getting in touch with people via social media and then going to meet with them face to face. Nothing gets my hackles up more than people moaning about how they have done a mailshot out to all the people in their location, and then hearing crickets. It’s a bit like writing to people and expecting them to agree to marry you.
Things you should definitely consider doing for your private practice when you’ve got the collywobbles are…
1. Re-connecting with all of your previous referrals, meet them and then follow up after you have met them, and then keep following up.
2. Get busy on LinkedIn and purposefully get those connections going with those people who could be potential referrers. Stop connecting with people who are your mates or who are in your discipline.
3. Call out to ‘Joe Bloggs’– directly. Write content for your website that appeals to the patients and solves their problems. Be slavishly consistent in the production of your content. Turn it into a video, put it out onto YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. This is a long-term strategy but astonishingly, so many people fail to get started with it.
4. Get tough on your time. Got half an hour? Good. Go do some of points one, two and three.
5. Get some private practice business coaching. Stop trying to re-invent the wheel, follow in my footsteps to avoid the pit falls, and come and learn, one-to-one how it works.
Feel like you could do with some Private Practice business and marketing coaching? We can help with systems, gaining referrals, effective ways to work within social media and getting your GDPR compliance done and dusted. Please do not hesitate to contact us
Together we can grow your Private Practice.
email or call us 0207 993 6425