Surgeons' brand exceeds patient outcomes — How you should build your practice's brand

Eric Oliver -   Print  |

Physicians who attempt to build their brand solely by focusing on clinical outcomes are ignoring crucial parts of the picture.

Here, Sean Sullivan, owner of Saltflower Creative and former marketing manager for Gulf Breeze, Fla.-based Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, discussed how practices should build their brand and offered tips around how to do it.

Note: Response was edited for style and content.

Sean Sullivan: Patients interact with your brand every day. They Google it. They click on it. They speak to it. Your brand needs to be on-demand for patients.

What should frustrate orthopedic surgeons to the core is that your brand is not solely based on clinical outcomes. In fact, positive patient experience has little to do with clinical outcomes. In other words, meeting the clinical expectations of the patient is expected. Patient experience is the driver of your brand reputation.

Brand reputation is based on clinical outcomes, online reputation, digital presence, staff friendliness, new patient paperwork, wait times, and office environment, among others.

I am not saying clinical outcomes are irrelevant. In fact, they are paramount. However, think of clinical outcomes as binary. It's the first step once you pass "Go." If you don't pass that test, it's all over. So, don't worry, all that training you did, very necessary.

What I am saying is that patients will leave positive reviews about receiving positive clinical outcomes, but they won't do it often. What they will do, often, is leave scathing reviews on your online reputation accounts about anything and everything other than the clinical experience.

Here are some questions to ask yourself if you want to really make a positive impact on your brand reputation and brand equity:

  • Do I really care about what the patient is going through?

    • If yes, then stop looking at your laptop, look them in the eye and listen. You are busy, we get it. You go from room to room and are expected to shape your attitude to meet the attitude of the patient. That seems like a lot to ask of you. It is.
  • Does this patient feel like I am invested in their healthcare?

    • A patient's interpretation of your investment in their healthcare is key. It does not matter what you think. It matters what the patient thinks you think. … The service industry of healthcare mandates that you provide a service that makes the patient feel special. This is the world we live in. I'm not saying it is right, I'm just saying this is the way it is.

Accepting the fact that your clinical outcomes have very little influence on negative patient experience is the first step on this journey together. Congratulations!

Finally, if you currently have someone running your social media, and that person is not representing your brand on social media, stop letting that person control your brand. You need a social media presence that consistently supports your brand, your clinical differentiators and personal differentiators.

More articles on spine:
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