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The Twofold Path to Practice Success

by Mark J. Tager, MD

Every health care business has a major goal. You want to get noticed, known, and remembered so you can attract the types of patient you’d like to treat. In the process of caring for your patients, you must also create an experience that meets or exceeds their expectations. The better the patient experience, the more likely you will gain a good reputation and be the recipient of positive referrals.

How can you meet both of these objectives? The best way is to enhance your presence in three dimensions: presentation, persuasion and promotion skills.

Present with Power

What’s the best way to make your presence known and to be remembered? It’s person-to-person. Every other method—print, audio, slides, video—is to some extent diluted. Successful health care practitioners take every opportunity to get in front of people and share their knowledge, skills, and experience. A recent IFM survey testified to the power of personal presentation. Those practitioners who found presentations to be a “very effective patient recruiting method” earned $28,750 per year more than their counterparts. Here are some tips to make your presentations more impactful and memorable.

  • Squash your fear. Anxiety and excitement are two sides of the same coin. You need to be excited to motivate your audience, but fear only gets in the way.
  • Build in interactivity. Plan to get the audience actively involved every 15-20 minutes by doing a poll, throwing out a question, or breaking participants into groups of two or four to conduct an activity.
  • Use the word “you” exponentially more than you use the word “I.”
  • Keep it simple. Don't make them drink content from your firehose. Organize your talk around three to five simple elements.
  • Hook them quickly. Get their attention in the first 30 seconds. The best way is to stimulate the novelty center. Do or say something that is quirky, provocative or counterintuitive.
Become More Persuasive

Mention the word “selling” to any -health care practitioner and they will appear to have just sucked on a very bitter lemon. Selling is “beneath us.” It’s not why we went into medicine. It reeks of snake oil and rekindles many of the bad experiences we’ve had with salespeople. My advice: Get over it. Everyone sells. If you want to generate more business, and help your patients with their health, then you must sell your ideas, beliefs, and recommendations. Selling is the process of delivering your influence.

The best—and I would argue, most noble—way to “sell” is to frame your intentions and ideas as a possibility for others. Rather than being self-absorbed and “right,” see if you can frame your words in such a way that they inspire your ideas to live in others as if they were their own. In the consult, avoid “shoulding” on patients. Instead, utilize motivational interviewing techniques that:

  • Focus on open-ended questions.
  • Help to identify the "why?"—the patient’s intrinsic motivators. Tie your treatment plan to their motivators, not yours.
  • Deal with ambivalence. All patients are torn between wanting to succeed on the one hand and remain just as they are on the other.

Explain the treatment options you offer, including the advantages, disadvantages, risk, and price. Present these options as real choices your patient must make and then use your influence to help your patient make the best possible decisions for their health.

Promote the Benefits of Your Practice

You’ve probably heard about the elevator exercise. I’ve found that many integrative/functional practitioners have great difficulty with this simple activity. Imagine you are in an elevator with another person who asks you a single question: "Why should I (as a patient) come to you?" You’ve got thirty seconds. Doing this exercise with hundreds of practitioners, I usually get back a litany of rambling answers, or a list of features emphasizing the practitioners’ credentials. My advice: Start the process of introspection by listing the features of your practices. A feature is a fact. A benefit is the outcome that helps the patient. Connect facts to outcomes by using bridging phrases like:

  • So that you can…
  • In order to…
  • Which lets you…
  • That’s important because…

Here’s an example: (FACT) “We provide only professional grade nutritional supplements in our practice.” (BRIDGE) “That’s important because…” (BENEFIT) “you’ll be getting an accurate dose of the key ingredients you need.”

Today, the competition for patients is becoming increasingly fierce. The lines are becoming blurred as so many practitioners say they are “integrative,” “functional,” “holistic,” or “wellness-oriented.” Growing a successful business and creating exceptional patient experiences are best accomplished by first attending to your presence. Concentrate on how you can amplify your influence by becoming a more effective presenter, persuader and promoter.

 

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About Mark J. Tager

Mark J. Tager, MD is co-founder of ChangeWell Training Academy. A veteran of more than 800 presentations Mark shares his skills and passion to empower those who attend ChangeWell’s Enhance Your Presence™ trainings. A highly sought-after speaker, Mark lectures for a number of medical device, nutraceutical, cosmeceutical, clinical laboratory and biotech companies. He has authored nine books related to health and performance. The latest, with Robert John Hughes, is Enhance Your Presence: The Path to Personal Power, Professional Influence and Business Results. He attended Duke University Medical School and trained in family practice at The Oregon Health & Science University. He can be reached at www.changewell.com.

 

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