My father-in-law always told us that if we didn’t “market” our practice, it would be like a guy winking at a girl in the dark. That pretty girl wouldn’t know that guy was alive :). Audiologists have historically been reluctant marketers but I think we all can agree that it’s a necessary part of being (and remaining) independent. Sara Bloom, in her recent article written for Hearing Health Matters makes a great point. We are in “business.” Yes, it’s a helping profession and we are highly skilled clinicians, but those of us in private practice, in particular, are running businesses. Marketing is critical for us– marketing that makes sure referral sources as well as consumers are aware of and attracted to our individual brand.
Don’t Docs Already Know About Us and Aren’t They Too Busy?
There are roughly 250,000 primary-care physicians (PCPs) in the United States. It is generally accepted that only 15%-20% of PCPs routinely screen their patients for hearing loss. Marketrak VIII reported that this percentage increased to approximately 40% for patients aged 45-64. Screening of the 65+ population increased by a very small amount. Clearly, we would like to see screening for the latter age group increase.
The physicians themselves are the primary revenue generators in their practices and their time is very valuable. They depend on support staff to help them to be as productive as possible during their workdays. It may be that when we introduce ourselves we may only get an audience with the front office staff, assistants or nurses. But these people are extremely important to the physician and to us. Make friends :)! It’s through them that we can create lasting referral relationships. We need to bring an engaging personal interaction, information and value. By value I mean that we bring things that help to make their jobs a little bit easier, whether that be regarding the referral process or with reports and follow up. Of course, we must convince them that we are a partner in helping them to provide top quality care for their patients.
Do Patients Ask Their Doctor About Hearing Loss?
Based on information provided by Bob Tysoe, a consultant with the Hearing Healthcare Marketing Company, 63% of people who admitted to having hearing loss said that their primary care was the most important source of information. These physicians and their staffs need to know who we are and what we do.
Building and Maintaining Relationships
We all think we do great work. We all think, “If they only knew, they would send all their patients to my office!” It’s our responsibility as independent professionals to let them know just how good we are.