One of the most common remarks I hear from my guys is the number of patients they see in the NHS. They literally have patients queuing up to see them. Such a comment is normally followed by the opposite when discussing a consultant surgeon’s private practice.
They want to see and need to see MORE patients.
This, for me, confirms the absolute cultural difference between the public and private sector.
In the NHS, a consultant surgeon does not have to do much in order for patients to be delivered to them.
In the private sector the precise and exact opposite applies.
In the private sector a consultant surgeon, because fundamentally a private practice is a business, MUST do everything he or she can to attract a patient. He must engage in pro-active marketing. He must ensure it is known his practice is there. First of all however he must comprehensively understand WHY a patient is choosing to go private. It is not merely the case of a patient wanting to be seen privately because he or she has private medical insurance. More accurately it is understanding WHY the patient has private medical insurance. I, for one, dispute it is because private care is better than NHS care.
More likely it is because the private patient wishes to be seen quicker.
Even so, a consultant surgeon MUST still engage in marketing.
If the patient can be seen at the private practise quicker than at an NHS location but the patient is unaware the private practise exists then all bets are off.
Therefore a marketing plan of some description, is an integral part of a private consultant surgeon’s business plan. And there in lies the reference to the first and absolute cultural difference between an NHS practise and a private practise.
A Private Practise is a business.
In a NHS practise, patients will be delivered to the consultant surgeon without him even asking.
In a private practise, patients will not just be delivered. They have to be attracted to the practise or more accurately to the business.
Note the use of the word BUSINESS for a private practice is a business.
This is not the time to discuss which marketing strategies will and do work best for a private consultant surgeon. This blog is more concerned with highlighting that due to the differences between the NHS and the private sector, a private consultant surgeon has no choice but to have a marketing strategy.
Just has a consultant must have a robust infrastructure to support the business (secretarial support, invoicing, banking etc), it is equally as important to have a marketing strategy.
Look at it this way, if any business does not have a regular number of customers or clients (in the case of a medical practise PATIENTS) then inevitably the business will not succeed.