Announcer: Dr. Marketing Tips. Paging Dr. Marketing Tips. Dr. Marketing Tips, you’re needed in the marketing department.
Announcer: (music) Welcome to the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast, your prescription to the answers you seek to grow your medical practice easier, better, and faster. This show is all about connecting practice administrators and medical marketing professionals with peers working in practices, learning from experiences, making mistakes, and sharing successes. Let’s get started.
Jennifer: Hey, there. Welcome to the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast. This is your host, Jennifer, and today, I am joined by a very special guest. It’s Dr. Maneesh Gossain. Dr. Gossain is a physician that we’ve been working with on the marketing side for several years now. I wanted to get him onto the podcast this week, one, because he’s very hands-on in his marketing, and I think he offers a very unique perspective to our listeners, and two, as you’ll find out as you listen along, Dr. Gossain is an independent physician, and so he really brings a different interpretation of some of the biggest challenges facing independent physician practices out there today.
Jennifer: Now Dr. Gossain is a board-certified radiation oncologist, and he has some particular areas of interest that he specializes in, including prostate cancer, head and neck cancer, and breast cancer. Dr. Gossain is a member of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the Radiological Society of North America, and the American College of Radiation Oncology. Outside of running a busy independent practice, Dr. Gossain is an avid tennis player and enjoys playing basketball and golf.
Jennifer: Dr. Gossain, thank you so much for joining us today. If you don’t mind, share a little bit with our listeners about who you are and the type of practice that you run on a regular basis.
Dr. Gossain: Okay. We have a radiation oncology practice that opened in 2004. I joined the practice in 2007. We have 20 employees. We have two locations. One is in Orlando and one is in Sanford.
Dr. Gossain: My role at the office: I’m one of three physicians in the practice, so my primary role is to be a physician and treat the patients. I’m also managing partner. I’ve been with the practice for 12 years, and so I do end up working with marketing, which is where we are today.
Jennifer: How did you find yourself into that role where you had to step in to be the leader as it relates to marketing the practice?
Dr. Gossain: I think as physicians, we’re not trained in marketing and not very good at marketing. As we had to grow the practice, then there needed to be more of an online presence. We did have a full-time marketing employee who started a family, and so then that job was gone, and so it fell upon me to take over that.
Jennifer: Okay. So tell us a little bit about some of the marketing that you have historically done, whether it’s the online stuff that we’re doing now, or are you still going out and doing referral visits and how does that seem to work for you?
Dr. Gossain: Oh, we are still doing referral visits. We’ve tried billboards in the past. We’ve tried commercials that weren’t as successful. We tried TV, billboards. We did events locally in Sanford and Orlando to try to bring physicians together and get our name out there. We’ve had open houses, which have helped.
Dr. Gossain: Then the market’s changing, so we now work with you at Insight Marketing and improved our social media presence. Now I think we get … When the patients are happy and have good reviews, then you’re also helping us put those online in the right places so other patients and practices can find out about our successes.
Jennifer: If you like what you’re hearing and need some help marketing your medical practice this year, be sure and check us out at insightmg.com. That’s Insight M, as in marketing, G, as in group, dot com. Don’t think you’ve got a budget for this kind of stuff? Think again. We’ve got you covered. Make sure you schedule a free consult today.
Jennifer: Yeah, it’s been positive because we’ve been seeing all the trends pointing into the right directions. I’m curious. Maybe explain for our listeners how you go about the referral relationships and the ongoing building of those referral relationships, and maybe explain a little bit the dynamics of working with large hospital systems in the market as well and how you navigate that entire process.
Dr. Gossain: Yeah, and that’s one of the bigger challenges is that we did develop good relationships with independent physicians, other small businesses like ourselves. We could connect with them. They would send us patients, and we could treat those patients well, and everyone was happy. But with the new market forces, the hospital is now … Hospital systems are buying up those independent doctors, so they’re now integrated in the hospital network. That’s been a challenge.
Jennifer: Would you say that building those referral relationships with the independents is one of your biggest marketing challenges?
Dr. Gossain: I think it’s a challenge just because we have to form relationships with other physicians. Getting together with those physicians helps, but it’s often difficult with the busy schedules. So that is a challenge, especially when the bigger hospitals start employing other physicians because then that opportunity is lost.
Jennifer: Well, if you had to pinpoint one thing that is your biggest marketing challenge, what would you say that is?
Dr. Gossain: It is that, with the hospitals buying up independent physician practices.
Jennifer: Okay. Absolutely. I think with your practice, also, from a marketing standpoint, it can be difficult because a patient has to come to the practice so often. So we had some really unique challenges just when a patient’s undergoing treatment and really honing in on those key differentiators. Maybe you can explain to the listeners. Just summarize what the patient experience might be and how it’s different with the radiation oncology practice versus an orthopedic practice down the street.
Dr. Gossain: Yeah. We really have to … The patient may have a breast cancer or prostate cancer, and so obviously, they’re overwhelmed when coming in. There’s a team of oncologists. We do radiation oncology. There’s medical oncology, who gives chemotherapy, but this is different, where the patient’s coming every single day, Monday through Friday.
Dr. Gossain: They have busy schedules, so one of the things we have to do is accommodate the patient in their schedule. If they’re coming every day, we can’t have them waiting an hour. We have to be respectful of their time and treat them well. They connect with our entire staff. It’s not just the physicians, but it’s the therapists and physicists. They’re meeting everyone. So that’s unique in terms of, say, an orthopedic practice where they might come much less frequently with an injury or whatnot.
Jennifer: Absolutely. I think that’s part of the reason that we’ve leaned so heavily into patient reviews online and including the staff in those reviews, and then just trying to get more of those positive stories to put out there because that is ultimately … The cleanliness and the ease of use and the ease of conversation, that all plays in too when somebody has to come multiple times or more than multiple or lots of times for treatment.
Jennifer: So you mentioned staff. You said you have about 20 employees now?
Dr. Gossain: Yeah.
Jennifer: 20 employees. How often are you seeing staff turnover?
Dr. Gossain: We’re getting much better. I think we’re getting them engaged more. Of course, they’re very happy to treat the patients. There’s a positive feeling when you can help someone with cancer. People like that and they want to stay, but I think creating a positive experience at work, our turnover is significantly less because we can focus on patient care instead of the other difficulties of a small business.
Jennifer: Hey there. Replacing an employee can be expensive, upward of 50% of that employee’s annual salary. Did you know that only 33% of your employees are actually engaged at work? Well, what if you could invest in engaging and training your employees for as little as $8 per month with training that’s specific to the challenges you face in your medical practice, like customer service, patient experience, communicating across generations, just to name a few?
Jennifer: Well, visit us at insightmg.com to find out more about how our employee engagement and training platform can help you strengthen employee retention, develop patient service mindsets, and give you peace of mind when it comes time for annual reviews all without creating any additional work for you, and it’s only $8 a month. Check us out at Insight M, as in marketing, G, as in group, dot com. We’ll be waiting for you.
Jennifer: Absolutely. Do you find that you’re having a hard time recruiting employees at this point?
Dr. Gossain: No, I think it helped to help us get focused. We’re focusing more on the patient care and treating the patients. We have people who are specialized who now do the billing, and your group is very good at the marketing. So we can focus our attention more on the patients. When we can treat the patients, then we’re not having as much difficulty retaining staff.
Jennifer: So if you could offer just maybe one or two tips to a practice administrator or a physician out there that’s starting a similar practice from the ground floor when it comes to marketing or engaging their employees, what would be those one or two tips that you would want to make sure that they have when they go to start the practice?
Dr. Gossain: Well, I think referral relationships are important. You have to maintain those. Continue to treat the patients well and connect with your referring physicians. I think a partner like Insight Marketing is helpful because as the environment changes, your team can keep up with that, because you’re experts at that as opposed to us, who are better at treating the patients.
Jennifer: Oh, you’re great, Dr. Gossain. I didn’t expect you to give us a bunch of kudos. I was just really wanting to hear your perspective on marketing for a radiation oncology practice, but I do appreciate it very much.
Dr. Gossain: Oh, no problem. It has helped. It was a challenge to think of the mistakes I made in the past and how to give that to other listeners. But I think we’re a very small practice. Unique. I don’t know if there’s many out there like us. I don’t know if there’s anyone out there like us, so I don’t know if anyone will benefit by what we learned.
Dr. Gossain: Yeah, I think I realized that our marketing person going to the offices was probably showing diminishing returns because they’re not connecting with the physicians. They’re connecting with staff members.
Jennifer: Of course.
Dr. Gossain: It didn’t turn out to be as … I think the direction is probably the online. That’s why I thought we needed to put more emphasis on good patients experiences. Take a video. Take a picture, and start posting those online because otherwise, the material Danielle had was not as a personal just because [crosstalk 00:13:59].
Jennifer: No, and that’s the way … Exactly, and we have to be more personal now. So if you guys get a patient that’s willing to go on video to do a testimonial, you call us immediately because we’re right down the street, and we’ll pop over. We need to get more of those because that’s where it’s at.
Dr. Gossain: Yeah, and because they’re coming every day, they’ll know the people who won’t mind being on there. You’ll know two weeks in advance before they finish.
Dr. Gossain: So I think it’s just a matter of getting the communication to you guys at the right time.
Jennifer: A couple of things that Dr. Gossain mentioned that I think are worthy of unpacking. One is that he’s an independent physician, and he’s constantly trying to compete with the hospitals and hospital-run practices. Two, in order to differentiate himself, he has started to lean into sharing his patient stories, and he realizes from a marketing perspective and a social media perspective that it’s time that his team get a little more engaged and that through that engagement, we will go ahead and grow the practice together.
Jennifer: A lot of our listeners out there are also independent physicians and independent physician groups, and so we hear it all the time. “I’m an independent physician, and it’s very difficult to compete with the hospitals.” So let me tell you how we have done it with Dr. Gossain’s group. We do this with a lot of the groups that we work with, and it has proven effective.
Jennifer: Here’s the thing. The hospitals, you’re never going to compete with them dollar for dollar. There’s just no way that you’re ever going to want to spend the kind of dollars that the hospitals are capable of spending, and you’ll never be able to match them from a marketing perspective.
Jennifer: So a couple of things that I would suggest to our listeners out there. One is if you can get a copy of whatever the editorial calendar, the media planning calendar for the hospital groups or hospitals systems are for your particular area. For example, let’s say that the hospitals are looking at third quarter of this year really making a push for head and neck cancer awareness. If you know that this is going to happen … A lot of times, you have call with these groups, so you just have to ask what they’re planning for the year ahead.
Jennifer: Let’s say it’s head and neck cancer awareness, and you know that they’re going to focus on that come September. Here I’m recording this in early June. So if you know this, then go ahead and look at your content calendar for July and August, and you lean heavily into head and neck cancer awareness. You create videos for head and neck cancer. You maybe make a couple blog posts for head and neck cancer. You get some photos in your office celebrating or bringing awareness to head and neck cancer awareness month. If you do this, let’s say, 60 to 90 days in advance of the hospitals, then when the hospitals put the dollars behind the head and neck cancer awareness come September, you are most likely going to show up in all of the organic search listings alongside the hospital’s paid search listings.
Jennifer: We’ve had great success in this not just with Dr. Gossain’s practice but with practices for colon cancer awareness month, head and neck cancer awareness month, athletic trainer awareness month, things of that nature. We know that the hospitals are focused on certain service lines, and they’re going to focus in certain times of the year. If you can get in front of that and focus on those service lines, their rising tide will float your boat as well. That’s one thing that you can do to compete a little bit with the hospital systems and the marketing giants that they’ve got there.
Jennifer: Another is we always advise practices … where it makes sense, but Dr. Gossain’s practice specifically. We advised him to lean into this whole ‘I’m an independent physician group’ because a lot of times, consumers or potential patients don’t understand the difference between independent physicians and large hospital-owned physician groups. Not that there’s anything wrong with a large hospital-owned physician group, but there’s just something about supporting a small business or an entrepreneur. Sometimes, we lose sight of that when we’re trying to choose our care.
Jennifer: So for Dr. Gossain’s group, we have really leaned heavily into that messaging. We have videos of the physicians talking about their choice to remain independent, and we’ve used it on the website. We use it in all of our articles that we write for them, and we use it on all the videos and in social media. We’re constantly reinforcing this idea that they’re an independent physician group and really, we’re doing this because a lot of times, somebody get diagnosed with something. God forbid, they get diagnosed with cancer and immediately think you have to go to where you’re told to go. Once you understand that you have a choice and you don’t have to stay with that particular referral that you received or stay within the hospital system, the very first thing that you’re often going to do is you’re going to go online and you’re going to do a quick search. We’ve made sure that Dr. Gossain’s group shows up as an independent physician group when people are taking a look.
Jennifer: Dr. Gossain touched on it really briefly, but when it comes to radiation oncology, the type of radiation that his practice administers, as a patient, you have to go there 21 days in a row. They’ve got patients that are coming every single. They might just be there for 30 minutes on their way to work, or a caregiver is driving them. When you’re at the hospital, they may not tell you you have to come 21 days in a row or that you choose who your own physician is. So we’ve leaned into this concept of one, that they’re independent, and two, we’ve identified what those potential hurdles or challenges or questions that potential patients might have, and we’ve made sure that we’re available with the right answers when it comes to search.
Jennifer: Those are just a couple of things that you can do if you’re an independent practice and you’re trying to compete with a large hospital system practice, a couple of things that you can do to really take advantage of what’s available to you out there.
Jennifer: Another thing that Dr. Gossain talked about … maybe you picked up on it, but the whole idea that we’re doing social media for his practice, but we have to engage somebody in the practice to really help us be in social media. What I mean by that is we put out a lot of what’s referred to as evergreen content, which is stuff that can be recycled. The leaves don’t fall off that tree. We know it’s going to be good whether it’s December or whether it’s June, and this way, at least his practice has a steady flow of content on a social media standpoint.
Jennifer: But we had to have somebody in the practice now that we’re working with to help us identify patients that are willing to take photos after their treatment closes, maybe the ringing of the bell after the last day of their 21 days of treatment, maybe even a patient who’s willing to tell their story on video. That is the biggest differentiator, and if you can lean into your patient stories to tell your stories of why you’re different than the practice down the street, nobody else can duplicate your patient stories. That patient is your patient, and they’re going to tell it from their words, from their mouth, and that is what is going to resonate.
Jennifer: So two things you can think about if you are an independent physician group trying to compete with those big hospital systems out there. One, lean into those patient stories as heavy as you can, and two, tell the world that you’re an independent physician.
Jennifer: Hopefully, you’ve taken something from this that is valuable to your practice. Let me know. You can hit us up on insightmg.com, or feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if there is a topic that you want us to cover. Hopefully, you enjoyed this episode. Until next time, I’m Jennifer and this is the Dr. Marketing Tips podcast. Thanks for joining us.
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