Spreading the Word
Between patient scheduling, staff training, scoring sleep studies, counseling patients, interfacing with referring physicians, dealing with reimbursement issues, battling with the payor community, evaluating capital equipment expenditures, and considering possible plans for expansion, there is hardly any time left in the day for a busy sleep center to consider adding another item to the to-do list; however, regardless of how hectic the day-to-day schedule might be, there is one thing that you do not want to omit from that list: The job of marketing.
It is not uncommon for health care professionals, especially those in private practice or in a group setting, to get so caught up in the clinical, diagnostic, and treatment side of health care that they do not leave any time for marketing and promoting their center/facility/laboratory and services offered to referral sources. No sleep practice can grow unless it markets and promotes itself within the health care community. Not only is marketing a necessity, but with the current expansion and future growth potential of sleep disorders medicine, opportunities will be left on the table without the implementation of an effective marketing strategy.
With the many conditions directly associated with OSA, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, obesity, asthma, diabetes, cardiac disease, and hypertension, there are endless opportunities to position your center as the practice of choice for referring physicians. Developing a total marketing solution, including brand identity, print ads, radio ads, and a professional referral package to help attract more patients, should be a mainstay with sleep professionals.
While your sleep disorders center may currently be the only game in town or enjoying a backlog of patients, as more hospitals and freestanding sleep centers move into the field, and as more existing facilities expand their number of beds, the competition will only get tougher. Developing, implementing, and maintaining a cost-effective marketing plan will help ensure that your practice is thriving and growing regardless of how many new competitors enter the scene.
Whoever came up with the saying, Build it and they will come, obviously was never involved in the business of health care. Build it, promote it, and market it, and then they will come is a far better motto for todays sleep medicine professional.
Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow
By Paige Smith
Since Sleep Reviews inception in 2000, I have seen many changes in sleep medicine from reimbursement to new pharmaceuticals, to greater public awareness about the importance of sleep. It has been fascinating watching the magazine come to fruition through dedicated writers, moguls in the field, and working with such a talented staff. That brings me to the bittersweet task of saying farewell to the sleep community as editor of Sleep Review. While I will not be straying from the health care arena in my future endeavors, I will take with me the education and experiences this field has brought to me. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the success of Sleep Review, whether it has been by writing an article, sending a letter to the editor, or just calling in with your ideas. With so much on the forefront of sleep medicine, a talented new editor coming on board, and the involvement of the sleep community, I have no doubt the magazine will continue to thrive.
Thank you again, good luck, and sleep well.