Good work was enough in good old days. Word of mouth used to spread (and remain in the ears of people for years!), “family doctor” and “family dentist” were everyday phrases, the growth path of a practice was quite predictable. Good work was the key.
Welcome to 21st century, decade 2.
Focus has shifted to online marketing, social media buzz, big corporate chains, online ratings of doctors, soft skills, practice management skills etc., The speed with which these changes came about has caught most practitioners unawares. Most practitioners still consider social media a waste of time. At a recent gathering of about 70 dentists, I asked how many had a Facebook page for the clinic. Just two raised their hand!
Corporate chains and online rating of practitioners – both have worked towards commoditization of medical work. Chains promise you similar quality of work independent of the practitioner...just as Pizza chains promise the same taste independent of the chef at a particular outlet! Online rating sites let patients rate the doctors just the way they rate mobile phones or restaurants. You see the shift? From ‘God-like’ stature to a rateable commodity! Just imagine – rating of Gods next... “How well did God fulfil your wishes?” ;-)
Good work is still the key, but not enough anymore.
You need few more keys.
Not only do good work but also ensure it gets known to a good number of people.
Not only work with your unique instinct and skills but also use technology/methodology.
Not only deliver quality but also build a systematic consistency & scalability in repeat-work.
All of this, without diluting the ‘noble’ aura of your work.
No matter what the hype makes you believe, a doctor’s work can never be commoditized.
No matter what digital printing guys tell you, an artist’s work can never be commoditized.
Back to the question, “How do I grow my practice?”
Remember, what looks like a threat can actually be turned into an opportunity. This is the attitude which most successful people work. You can too!