July 3, 2018

What Physicians Need to See Before Joining Your System

For the best physicians, being a doctor wasn’t as much of a choice as it was a calling. In speaking with hundreds of physicians, there is a very common set of characteristics I have found almost all shared in their youth.

Many had a very sick family member. Some were sickly themselves and had a lot of contact with doctors at an early age. Others were enthralled with the science of it. But all shared a passionate excitement for what is possible. They liked the idea of what they could achieve as physicians, from research to lives saved.

In short, they liked where medicine could take them.

Even as these physicians have grown more seasoned and start to think about either joining a health system or changing to a new one, those basic motivations are the same: They want to know where your health system might take them. What can they achieve?

There are plenty of ways for a prospective new physician to gauge how your health system might propel their career and feed their emotional needs . In fact, the younger they are, the more likely they are to be evaluating aspects of your system that wouldn’t have been as much of an issue even just ten years ago…before the rise of social media.

But one of the clearest (yet often overlooked by CEOs) measuring points for a physician contemplating joining your system is your brand strategy. Marketing and medical speak have different dialect so they may not say “brand strategy” but the thinking behind your strategy still might be a make or break factor to getting that physician to sign on your dotted line.

How can you expect me to buy-in if you can’t tell me where you are going?

While all of the jargon can blur it for some, at its core a brand strategy is really a roadmap that illustrates where your organization is trying to go. Your brand strategy can tell an outsider (in this case a new physician) exactly the type of system you are trying to be but in more finite, graspable terms. Your Mission/Vision might do this in words but it is your brand strategy that proves those words through action.

Your advertising shows the stories and values that you hold sacred. Your internal-facing communications show how you expect care to be delivered. Your five-year plan shows which audiences of prospective patients that you are targeting. Your marketing plans shows what type of people you are going after and where you are going to meet patients outside of the walls of your organization.

Show me your brand strategy and I can pretty much find out what drives you as an executive, from your worst fears to your brightest hopes.

Your brand strategy is the key to unlocking that excitement that the best physicians first felt when they declared themselves as a pre-med major. It unlocks their desire to dream of the possible again. Take every effort to not only use this as part of your physician visit pitch but also reinforce it to those physicians you already have and are desperately clinging to keep. Detail your overall brand strategy through the lens of where you are trying to go.

I hear CEOs constantly talking about better physician engagement but too many of these otherwise stellar executives can’t really detail their brand strategy past the last annual marketing budget they approved. They are missing the moment that might inspire a physician with a wondering eye to recommit to where the health system is going.

A detailed brand strategy doesn’t just attract new patients, it helps find and keep the kind of doctors that those patients choose.

Some physicians will tell you they don’t care too much about their hospital’s brand. But to me that is also a good thing. Because if a physician isn’t interested in your strategic vision for the brand, I guarantee you that is because they have no intention of being here when that vision comes to fruition. Better to smoke out those that are just punching a ticket early so you can identify those true brand ambassadors that will help you realize your vision.

Your brand vision and brand strategy are crucial for so many reasons…every CEO understands that. But in considering that strategy, don’t forget to shape it to appeal to physicians and for heaven’s sake, don’t ever stop articulating what that strategy is to your clinician audience.

After all, since when has someone passionately committed to an idea…when they don’t even know what that idea is?