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Your Most Promising Referral Source

When your primary care physician (PCP) tells you, “you need to see a specialist,” who do you ask for a recommendation? – Probably the doctor in front of you. Patients with hearing difficulties are no different. Marke Trak IX, a survey of 17,000 households, tells us the majority of people want a hearing aid recommendation from an MD (Abrams, HB, 2015). The survey concludes: “The PCP has an influence on a sizable portion of the market” (Abrams HB, Kihm J. 2015). Patients are more likely to follow a physician’s recommendation. Yet many university clinics are not committed to a viable Physician Outreach Program with an individual who assumes ownership of the program and has the responsibility and authority to coordinate and execute activities.

Doing the Math

A Physician Outreach Program can be your most powerful marketing tool. Let’s do the math. There are 441,735 PCPs in the U.S. PCPs have client panels of 1,000 or more people. With health care consolidating into large group practices, a Physician Outreach Program can influence a group of physicians who impact referral decisions for multiple thousands of patients. PCP practices focusing on senior health are exceptionally fruitful. A well-run Physician Outreach Program will allow your university clinic to help more people, increase new patient acquisitions for training students, grow patient revenue valued by the university administration and become an integral part of the medical community. Having a Physician Outreach Program is an opportunity you cannot afford to miss.

What PCPs and Their Staff Need to Know

  • The importance of hearing health and early detection of hearing difficulties, and how they will benefit their practice.
  • The value added by audiology, including the importance of audiologists as hearing health gatekeepers and primary care providers for hearing health.
  • Your clinic’s value proposition. Why your clinic is better than the competition, and why they should send patients to your clinic.
  • Comorbidities associated with hearing loss.

The University Advantage

Trust is the crucial factor in Physician Outreach success. Physicians want to refer their patients to a responsible clinic where they will receive expert care without being sold a product or service they do not need. A viable Physician Outreach Program will focus on building trust between the physicians’ practices and your university practice. Auspiciously, university clinics are better positioned to build PCP trust than other practices. As nonprofit clinics, university clinics are in the business of patient care, not producing a profit. Notably, nonprofit clinic excess revenue must go back into serving more patients, not to line the owner’s pockets. A vital part of a university Physician Outreach Program is to educate the physician group that you are a nonprofit and your mission is to serve patients, not create profit. That differentiates your clinic from the for-profit competition. Once that is understood by the physician group, it is more evident to them you will not sell their patients products or services they don’t need.

Another PCP trust-builder unique to universities is the university brand. Universities spend millions of dollars building a strong positive brand. Your physician marketing and educational materials should build on that brand. Because universities are educational institutions, people expect to be educated by university personnel and are receptive to that education. Peer-reviewed articles and lunch and learns to inform physicians and their staff and hearing educational materials for their patients will be more readily accepted, thanks to university branding of the university’s position as one of authority. By marketing your clinic as the clinic that teaches future Doctors of Audiology and conducts research, you can build on university authority, establish your clinicians as experts and differentiate your clinic from the non-university-based competition.

Conclusion

Physician Outreach is a powerful way to educate physicians and patients and win many patient referrals. With their nonprofit and university branding, university clinics are uniquely positioned to capture the physician referral market. Patients want, and are more likely to follow, a physician recommendation. Start a Physician Outreach Program at your university now.

For details of, and professional assistance with, Fuel’s ten-step process to start a Physician Outreach Program, or to obtain expert Physician Outreach tactics and materials to improve your ongoing Physician Outreach Program, contact your Fuel regional manager or account manager. If you are not a Fuel Medical member yet, contact us today at contact@fuelmedical.com or (360) 210-5658.

Citations:

  • Abrams HB, MarkeTrak 9 (MT9): A New Baseline. American Academy of Audiology presentation September 11-12, 2015, Baltimore MD. Found at: https://www.audiology.org/sites/default/files/conferences/Final%20MarkeTrak%209.9.16.15.Harvey%20Abrams.pdf
  • Abrams HB, Kihm J. An Introduction to MarkeTrak IX: A New Baseline for the Hearing Aid Market. Hearing Review. 2015;22(6):16. Found at: http://www.hearingreview.com/2015/05/introduction-marketrak-ix-new-baseline-hearing-aid-market/