Marketing Your Ancillary Services
Neil Baum, MD
Neil Baum, MD, is Clinical Associate Professor of Urology, Tulane Medical School, New Orleans, LA, and author of Marketing Your Clinical Practice: Ethically, Effectively, and Economically, Jones Bartlett Publishers.
According to Michael J. Wiley, “Marketing your ancillary services is one of the keys to the success of your program.” Begin within your own practice by letting your existing patients know what additional services you have to offer. This is easily accomplished by placing signs and posters in your reception area. It is likely that your practice may contain hundreds of potential users of your ancillary services and you just need to let them know that the service is available. Use signage that is clean and professional-looking and not a piece of paper Scotch-taped to the window that separates your receptionist from the reception area. In my practice we use a digital photo album that mentions ancillary or new services as well as letting patients know about our presence on social media.
You may also want to have elegant, tri-fold, color brochures that describe your new ancillary services and the benefits of your service that are now available within the office. It is also important to make certain that your staff is fully knowledgeable about the service and can answer the most frequently asked questions about the service. This can be done in an informal fashion, but far better is to have a formal staff tutorial of the service, such as at a staff meeting, or have the staff meet with the vendor who supplies the service when they come to train the technicians on the operation of the new equipment.
Many ancillary services, such as Botox injections, hair transplant, and weight loss programs are not covered by insurance companies and these services will be out-of-pocket expenses for patients. The more money patients pay out of pocket, the more effective and tailored your marketing efforts will need to be.
You can use your Website as a vehicle marketing your ancillary services. Begin by checking the Internet with several key words and see what sites emerge. For example, if you are offering a weight reduction program, you might go to one or several search engines, like Google or Yahoo, and type in weight loss, the name of your city, or zip code and see what sites turn up. If your site doesn’t appear as one of the top 5 sites, then you have some work to do to get your site in an optimum position on the search engines.
No practice can have a successful ancillary service without a highly motivated staff. Your staff can be great ambassador for this service, especially if they have made use of the service themselves. For example, if the practice has implemented LASIK eye surgery and several of the staff have had the procedure, they can be great advocates to your existing patients for the surgery.
Bottom line: Ancillary services are a great way to add income to your bottom line. It is not like a “Field Of Dreams” where you build it or add it to your practice and the patients will come. You must market and promote these services in order to have an effective and successful program.