In April 2017 GCR.org conducted an insightful survey of 88 GCR.org Accredited clinic & hospital owners asking them this question:
“What is the very WORST thing that could ever happen to your clinic?”
A variety of short & long responses came in, therefore I have summarized the answers here, in order of prominence:
- Unsatisfied Patients (e.g. leaving bad reviews, taking legal action against the clinic)
- Unsatisfied Staff (e.g. core doctors or team leave the clinic)
- Clinic Closure (e.g. by health authorities, scandal, unnecessary death of patient, local building development)
- Political Struggles (e.g. causing financial crisis, changes in law affecting health care, taxation)
- Environmental Problems (e.g. flooding, hurricane, tsunami, landslide)
What was most interesting is that all these prestigious clinics and hospitals mentioned that “loss of reputation or decreasing patient numbers is their no.1 fear.”
Video: Clinic owners at @IMTJ 2017 react on the worst thing that could happen to their medical business:
These situations can happen to any clinic in any country. I work with many top hospitals that have been affected by the middle east conflicts. Also, a dental clinic that recently became GCR accredited suffered the unexpected death of a prominent patient last year. Even though the clinic is clear of malpractice, the event immediately halved the number of patients that they were able to treat during that time.
Even my own dental clinic was hit firsthand by an environmental situation in 2010 with the eruption of the Icelandic volcano “Eyjafjallajökull” which stopped flights from the UK for many days. This event left my team with no patients to treat for a couple of weeks – and I learnt the lesson firsthand, with zero local reputation – I wasn’t able to immediately attract local patients.
I’ve also seen the currency exchange rate change dramatically causing treatment prices to change rapidly, and the closure of leading flights to my nearest city take their toll on the numbers of patients I have been able to treat during those times.
Problems and catastrophes will and do happen, and all clinic/hospital owners must be prepared for it. Here’s how:
Minimise risks with “The Golden Bullet.”
While healthcare consultants would suggest any number of ways to minimise the risk of any of the above 5 “worst things” happening, I believe that the “golden bullet” for protection against such situations to be: building a solid reputation.
Here are some ideas on how to get moving:
There’s a whole volume of techniques that I’d recommend to build the reputation of your clinic or hospital, many of which I’ve covered in other articles & videos, however here’s a short list of “Must To-DOs” to get you taking action today:
In theory, the easiest of all to do, but so hard for many clinic owners. It takes courage and a good dose of honesty.
However, patients will love you for it. Do a full assessment of where your clinic stands today and let your patients know. If you’d like to know the reputation of your clinic to a patient that doesn’t know your clinic yet – use GCR.org to do it. It’s completely free, and will allow you to see then how you compare to other clinics worldwide.
If you’re not doing it already, start collecting patient & clinic outcomes and publish that data to an official source. Share your case studies on social media and your website.
Internally, let your team know exactly where your clinic stands and where you want it to be.
Share your financial data, outcomes, reputation & feedback scores with them.
Daily ask the focusing question:
Is what you are doing right now in the clinic:
- or improving your clinic reputation?
Just maintaining your current reputation is the most dangerous place to be – and the place where so many clinics are at currently. They’re simply doing the same thing, in the same way, day in and day out. If decreasing, there’s usually a quick fix. Improving your clinic daily – that’s where you want to be. Every day, implementing systems and processes to make things easier, safer and provide a better overall experience for the patient.
Clinic accreditation & certification is an excellent way to get started with this or bringing in an external business advisor or mentor on a weekly basis.
Build raving fans
Not every patient is going to become a real fan of your clinic or hospital. Even if you go out of your way to do something memorable for every person you come in contact with, not everyone is going to connect with what you do on an insatiable level. And that’s okay.
How do you find patients that are willing to spread the word enthusiastically about your clinic or hospital?
Here are some quick ideas on you can do that (warning: they all require work):
- Personally, call and thank every patient that has treatment in your clinic.
- Create a short, personalized thank-you video for patients that use your clinic on a regular basis.
- Create an unexpected bonus for patients that contact your clinic.
- Answer every single email, phone call and message to your clinic.
- Release a movie-style trailer about your clinic, or do something unexpected.
- Reward your best patients with something memorable that relates to your treatment type. Personalize it.
- Hold a contest with one winner, then surprise everyone by giving every entrant a prize.
- Spend a month giving revenue from every treatment to a charity related to your message or cause.
Most importantly, do something different. There’s little competition at the leading edge because everyone is afraid to do something that hasn’t been proven to work.
An excellent article on this can be found here by Kevin Kelly:
Focus on geographical markets
Focusing on just one local market or demographic for patients put the clinic in a hazardous position should one of the “worst case scenarios” occur. I have learnt that firsthand if you read my example at the beginning of this article.
If you’re not building your reputation nationally or internationally – start doing it now before it’s too late.
If necessary, hire the right people who can work in the languages needed, and provide the level of service required to attract different demographics of patients.
Another idea would be to start also specialising in new medical treatments – so that you’re the only go to place in the region for that type of therapy.
I am a great advocate of building multiple smaller clinics instead of one huge hospital. If one site goes wrong, you can always close it and focus on the locations that are working – however still share the costs of the lab, materials and even staff if need be.
Richard Branson has covered this is well in the building of the Virgin Brand.
Still not convinced on the importance of reputation?
Let’s take a look at the influence of clinic reputation on those “top 5 nightmares of medical clinic owners” mentioned above:
- Unsatisfied patient? A clinic with a high reputation has 1000’s of raving fans who will vouch for the clinic at any time – online or offline.
- Unsatisfied staff? A clinic with an excellent reputation can connect the staff to a bigger vision, work stability as well as provide greater educational and financial rewards. It will also attract more new talent to the existing team.
- Clinic closure? A clinic with an excellent reputation is always taking steps to excel in any government spot checks on hygiene or finance controls, as well as implementing international (not just local) protocols to ensure the highest level of safety, satisfaction and care of all patients. The clinic has multiple locations so that whenever work is being carried out around or on their building, they can continue at the same or increased levels elsewhere.
- Political struggles? A clinic with an excellent reputation is visited not only by locals, but by patients from overseas who travel to that particular clinic not because of cost savings, but because of their stunning reputation. Reputable clinics & hospitals can lobby the local government to change policy and support them in many cases.
- Environmental problems? A clinic with a great reputation can move location anytime and take it’s excellent reputation with them, and are fully booked from day 1 of opening a new clinic.
this article was inspired in part by my keynote at the IMTJ 2017 conference in Croatia – here are my slides:
Building clinic reputation is a solid, free insurance policy
It will protect your medical business, should the anything bad happen. Having said that, however, the path of creating a solid reputation for your medical facility that continually grows is more of a marathon than a sprint. It’s more like farming than hunting. I’ve seen that most clinics won’t do it because it takes too much work and time. And they often don’t see the results immediately.
But I guess you’re not like most clinics or hospitals. And I assume you are reading this to do more than what’s currently done in the provision of healthcare. Let me help you get there through my work at GCR.org – or leave me a comment below – I’d be more than happy!