I wrote about my plan this year (2017) to start a virtual medical practice. Since making that decision, I have been doing some brainstorming to determine what it is that I actually want out of my practice. Today, I had my first phone session with Karishma, my account manager who is my go-to person for marketing, helping me start/grow my practice. Marketing my virtual medical practice is important so that I can attract the right kind of patient for it.
Before Marketing Can Begin
This goes to show you how little I know about marketing, I didn’t ever really decide on what I want my practice to look like. Do I want a practice where I’m seeing a few high-paying concierge patients? Do I want to provide access to patients without healthcare? Do I want to target patients residing outside of the US?
I’ve thought about this a little and I think I want to start out by offering cheaper prices to patients who don’t have easy access to healthcare. I am thinking to target:
- those who are between insurances
- those who don’t have the means to afford their high-deductible plans
- world travelers needing access in the USA
How much money do I want to earn? When working with another person who handles the marketing for you, you need to be able to answer this question. Without metrics to measure success, a marketer can’t determine whether they are on track or not.
I would say that with any business venture, my bottom line is always going to be to provide for my overhead. I figure my expenses are going to be somewhere in the $2,000/month range, so that’s what I want to shoot for.
Naturally, Karishma smirked at this a bit because this is quite the attainable goal for a virtual practice. That’s great. That means that I should be able to attract the right kind of patients if I am able to offer better prices.
How much time do I want to spend working on my business? Well, I don’t have a whole lot of commitments, I should be able to spend as much time as necessary – once again, a marketer can’t go with that vague answer. They need to know that I will keep my end of the bargain. Therefore, we agreed on 30 hours a week, that’s reasonable.
Advertising My Name
HealthTap itself is a website where doctors and patients are being connected. Just by having a presence there, I am getting free advertisement for my name.
Next, I need to answer questions on their website in order to demonstrate my expertise. There is no cost to patients to ask these quick questions and there is no cost for me to answer them. Well, no monetary cost – I am spending my time. I am always far happier spending my time than my money when bootstrapping a business.
Running Google AdWords campaign. Surprisingly, it seems that physicians have had good luck using Google AdWords to gain new customers through HealthTap.
I will need to research this service a bit before spending money on it, but if I can target specific groups then I would be quite interested in using it.
Starting My Own Website
Check! I already talked about physicians registering their professional names as a website. I like this idea because it protects my brand. If there is some shitty website out there where someone is talking shit about me then at least I have a place where I can “clear” my name.
And who is to say that someone can’t just register my name and run scams on that site? Sure, I can get a lawyer, file a lawsuit etc., but I have ZERO desire to get caught up in that. Instead, I can spend <$100 and protect myself, as well as build my brand.
More importantly, I want to brand myself because I don’t want to be a large medical group’s dancing monkey, not that it’s bad working for a large medical group, there are some great perks, but I think I’d much rather set my own tone.
No need to get fancy here, I simply need something professional and informative. If I wanted to get customers to use my services based on what they see on my site then I would have to take a whole different approach which would involve search engine optimization.
How Much I Want To Charge
I spoke with Karishma a bit about where to set my prices. I liked her input and felt that she had a great grasp on what each pricing point would do for me.
We agreed on the following model below:
The Live Consults will be video or telephone visits with patients. Either in 15 or 30-minute increments. I have the option of giving some patients promo codes in order to charge them less.
I could certainly bump this up a lot, charging up to $300, in order to attract more affluent patients. I am not interested in that at this time, but certainly think it’s a possibility if I can build my name in this practice model.
I would like offer “second-opinion” options at that high price point in the future. This is when a patient, who has seen multiple doctors, is having a hard time figuring out what’s going on with them, or wants to know whether they should undergo a particular procedure.
Inbox Consults are interesting, I just did one (and got paid, cha-ching!) and it’s very easy. The patient has a particular question, has a picture of a rash perhaps, and they ask their question, fill out their health-history and post the picture. They then wait for you to either ask more questions or simply come up with the appropriate diagnosis and management.
The Subscription model is my favorite. I have to think more about it and actually would welcome any suggestions from you guys. This is a service where the patient would have unlimited access to the Inbox Consults by paying a fixed monthly fee. Imagine paying a certain amount every month and being able to ask any medical question to your own doctor – it’s neat… well, as long as a hypochondriac doesn’t get a hold of it.
A marketer will give you all the right advice and answer the right questions. But I think it’s important that I am asking the right questions to myself and trying to build my practice the way I want to.
I am going to put in a little more work on my website and start advertising. It will take time for me to settle on the final prices and figure out my workflow, but I’m certainly excited.