Marketing. Many physicians consider it a bad word. We are not taught much about business in medical school, unlike our colleagues in dental and veterinary medicine. And marketing, in particular, seems foreign to most of us. It shouldn’t be.
There are many ways that we “market” ourselves every day—by being polite and compassionate to our patients and colleagues, through our behavior and appearance, and in a myriad of unconscious ways. But there are also specific opportunities that we can take advantage of.
When our hospital CEO announced that he was going to host one of the periodic Chamber of Commerce mixers several years ago, most of the medical staff scratched their heads and said, “Huh?” But I knew this was a great opportunity to show off our anesthesiology group and explain to the business community what physician anesthesiologists offer for patient care. I mobilized the group and arranged for us to be at the Chamber of Commerce event.
Planning our attendance involved only a few things:
- getting everyone to put it on his or her calendar
- making sure everyone had business cards
- setting up a “booth” display
The calendar part was not difficult, although the usual scheduling issues arose. The business cards took a little bit of work, since we had never had them for the group. Those of us who did have cards had created our own for use at things like the ASA’s Legislative Conference in Washington, DC. There was no consistency in look or feel. I opted to do double-sided cards that all of us could use with the option of personalizing them. On the front I placed our website logo and contact info; on the back I listed everyone’s names (this works well when only a dozen people are involved).
At the time, the CSA did not have any sort of traveling kit, but I was able to borrow the ASA’s “traveling booth” for our event. This was a folding tabletop display using some stock photos and graphics from the ASA, plus literature to hand out. I added some of our own photos to personalize it, as well as a regular laryngoscope, a video laryngoscope, and one of our Massimo pulse oximeters—I walked around wearing it like jewelry.
Setting up the booth was easy, but we did things differently than our colleagues. We stood in front of the table, welcoming people as they walked by rather than standing behind the table, which makes it too easy for them to just walk on past.
We had a second Chamber mixer last year. It was a scaled-down event, since we were sharing with the OR. This time I borrowed one of the CSA’s banner tablecloths and used my old iMac to create a rotating slide show. I included photos of each of our physicians and screen shots from the CSA, ASA and AQI websites.
Recently we did a similar reception for the hospital system’s medical foundation. Presenting to a group of physicians is a very different experience; we emphasized specific techniques that we offer, particularly regional blocks.
|CSA Members Drs. Mark Kenter
and Bobby Mathew
We ran looping video of ultrasound and echocardiogram procedures recently performed. One partner came in shorts and a T-shirt to be our model for how anatomy is visualized with the ultrasound for some of our blocks.
At this event, we finally got to meet some of our primary care colleagues. Although we care for their patients every day, many of these physicians had never actually been to the hospital. And they got a chance to see the advances in anesthesiology since they went to medical school.
Does all of this generate business for the hospital? Maybe. But it definitely makes people better understand the important work we as physician anesthesiologists do both in and out of the operating room. By showing the person behind the mask, we are “marketing” the group and the specialty of anesthesiology to other physicians, hospital administrators, and the public.