I think it is safe to say that anyone in O&P knows that everyone is a potential customer or patient, right? Anyone, at any time, could end up needing an orthosis or prosthesis. I think it is also safe to say that dentists have a similar target market. Everyone at some point will end up needing dental work. There are no gender- or race-specific targets. Your target market and a dentist’s target market are the same. Everyone.
There are well-documented similarities between O&P and dentistry in reimbursement issues and insurance coverage — or lack of insurance coverage — and delays in claim payments. Dental work, like O&P, is necessary. Who wears braces — on their teeth or on their body — for fun? Likewise, most people wouldn’t choose to need a prosthesis or a root canal if they didn’t absolutely have to have one. Dental work, like O&P, can often be a high dollar transaction.
Good dental practices
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Now that we have established the similarities let’s talk about marketing. If you are looking for marketing inspiration, ask your dentist about his or her marketing plan. Successful dentists are keenly aware that they have a relationship-based practice. As such, they know that:
• A patient relationship has the potential to be a life-long relationship;
• Front office staff can make or break the relationship. (True story: I no longer go to a fantastic dentist because his new front office person is not very nice. I don’t even like calling to make an appointment.);
• The walk has to match the talk;
• If they say they are friendly, patient-focused and helpful in our marketing, they better act that way in their daily interactions;
• Interviewing or consulting with a new patient is a critical step in patient retention;
• In health care, time spent listening can be their most powerful marketing tool;
• Newsletters are a key component in maintain the relationship;
• Virtual interactions are a perfectly acceptable way of strengthening a relationship provided the content is of value.
Dentists and O&P professionals now have more knowledge, more sophisticated techniques and more technologic advances at their disposal to help people more than at any other time in history. Savvy health care professionals understand that all the knowledge, techniques and technology are available to any provider willing and able to pay for it. Therefore, the key to differentiation is the relationship between patient or customer and provider. What are your relationship-based practice marketing tools?