As a young practitioner in a large group, I’ve come to realize that the greatest asset I have is my patient base.
I fully enjoy working with and servicing ALL patients, but as new optometrists
, we cannot
deny that there is added personal value if you have the power and skills to curate your ideal patient base.
It is of equal, if not more importance, that the people on your schedule not only require your service but are also the type of people YOU wish to serve.
Identifying your ideal patient base
For me, ideal patients are the ones who emotionally recharge me (that I laugh AND cry with), challenge my current understanding of diseases (specifically patients with glaucoma
and dry eye
), and support our local business (which indirectly supports me).
My ideal patient base keeps me going, even in the weeks when I’m feeling burnt out
. Achieving the ideal patient base may seem far away and out of reach for new optometrists, but it doesn’t have to be.
In this article, we’ll discuss five different strategies for boosting your word-of-mouth marketing as a new optometrist to attract and retain your ideal patient population.
1. Showcase your expertise
As a new doctor, it can be intimidating and overwhelming to try to communicate your “expertise” to patients.
According to a study
by Stanford Medicine, one in four doctors experience imposter syndrome, which is a feeling of incompetence or inadequacy despite being fully qualified for the tasks at hand.1
Nevertheless, the ability to showcase your capabilities to patients is vital to marketing yourself and expanding your personal practice.
One indirect yet impactful way to demonstrate your achievements is by framing and hanging your professional degrees
and publications. I often walk into my exam room only to find an inquisitive patient standing to read—and later remark on—articles that I’ve either written or have been written about me hanging on the wall.
It’s hard to deny your professional achievements in a room that speaks for itself! Showcasing your expertise makes it easy to build the patient’s respect well before your first “Which is better, one or two?”
2. Leverage social media
If there’s one mutual skill ANY practice can benefit from, courtesy of us New Optometrists, it’s our savviness and familiarity with social media
Social media platforms can assist in sharing:
- Health tips
- Information about common medical conditions
- Updates about the practice and/or raising awareness of existing practice promotions
Additionally, social media channels like Facebook and Instagram offer a variety of options to assist in acquiring new patients/customers.
Using social media to promote your services
Business accounts have opportunities to run sponsored ads—paid content specifically targeting users interested in your product or service. You can specifically target users based on location (down to a specific postal code), demographics (gender, age, race), interests, and habits.
While administrators run our main clinic’s page, I’ve taken a special interest in starting a supplementary account for our specialty dry eye clinic
Creating your own personal brand around your specialty can be a unique way to differentiate yourself in your practice and on social media. Content can look like anything from comments on the latest online research, information about you and your specialty services, and/or your expertise regarding your specialty.
3. Participate in on-call services
Participating in your practice’s on-call services
is a great way to not only serve your community but also build a loyal patient base. Tending to a patient's urgent situation quickly strengthens the patient's ties and loyalty to you as a provider and the practice.
New patients often remark on how our office was one of the very few—if not ONLY—optometry offices to “offer the emergency services I needed.” From corneal burns to retinal detachments, patients requiring urgent attention quickly feel connected to their eyecare provider and, more often than not, turn into lifelong patients.
4. Utilize physician/provider services liaisons
Large healthcare organizations frequently have provider service/physician liaisons who serve to represent the physician(s) or group practice they work for to other healthcare groups and practices. A provider service liaison’s goal is to create and foster relationships among providers and build trust and engagement among physicians. They play a vital role in the growth of their practice.
Engaging with other provider service liaisons can be mutually beneficial. Most recently, one of our providers coordinated with our large ophthalmology group’s provider service liaison to set up a meeting with our local cataract surgeon.
This gave us both the opportunity to have face-to-face conversations about how to improve our referral processes
, premium intraocular lens (IOL) options, and ways to mutually co-manage
for a superior experience. As we continued to converse, our surgeon showed interest in our dry eye services.
The next week, the provider service liaison stopped by our office to pick up information on our advanced treatment options for distribution at the large ophthalmology group practice. For us, utilizing the right avenues and point-of-care references like the physician liaison helped not only foster relationships but also create an opportunity to benefit our own practice at zero cost.
5. Partner with local community events
Getting involved in your local area is a great way to become rooted in the community. Participation can look like presenting information on kids’ eyecare to parents and teachers at school meetings, volunteering for local sports screenings, and networking
at other young professional organizations.
Our practice currently serves as the “team eye doctors” for our local college’s athletes. We offer screenings and have a doctor either on the sidelines or in the stands at each football and basketball game.
In all of your marketing efforts one focus should be paramount: enhance patient care and give value to the community.
Effective marketing for doctors revolves around showcasing expertise, sharing valuable information with patients in creative ways, building loyalty, working with other healthcare providers, and integrating your services into the community.