Do you remember a movie called Field of Dreams? I was still in grad school when I saw it. It starred Kevin Costner and took place in some place like Iowa. All I really remember is that fabulous voice of James Earl Jones saying, “If you built it, they will come.” Of course that only happens in movies. In real life all businesses must have a sound marketing plan.
Our main plan was to reach out to medical doctors and optometrists. We wanted to be accessible to them, since they are the ones who will most likely make an initial diagnosis and need to refer a patient onward. We attended a lecture by a well-respected ophthalmology practice management expert. He said that one solo retina practice only needed 3 ophthalmologists to refer to it to survive. Since retinal disease is not nearly as common as say hypertension or diabetes, I was skeptical. So rather than establish relationships with just three doctors, we decided to cover the entire island west of Honolulu. We sent a personalized letter to all internists, geriatricians, ophthalmologists and optometrists in this area announcing the opening our our new practice. Doctor Tafoya has tried to personally visit as many of these doctors as possible.
Monday will be our second continuing education seminar for optometrists. We hope to invite a few doctors to our office after hours every month or so for complementary approved continuing education credits. It seems like a nice way for the doctors to get to know us AND for them to see our office, while educating them on retinal disease and treatment. We will also be having our official Open House and Office Blessing in two weeks. We have invited these same docs as well as all ophthalmologists on island.
Why the entire island when I said that we would focus our efforts west of Honolulu? Well, this is one of the flaws in my business plan. As mentioned previously, Pacific Retina Care(SM) was featured in Star Bulletin’s Midweek. What I did not except and what happened was readers brought their Midweek copy to their doctor and asked to see US for their retina care. Ah ha! Patients play an important role in deciding which subspecialists will care for them. Because of this, we have decided to attempt to broaden our range. My assumption was that people selected general doctors near their homes. But what actually happens is that they drive all of the way in to town to seek most medical care. Since we might be conveniently located near their homes, we should give doctors the option to chose us.
Lastly, since people are such good consumers and are trying to make educated decisions about their own healthcare, why not contact them directly? So I have been diligently trying to make arrangements for Doctor Tafoya to speak to senior groups. We’d like to teach people about their aging eyes and about new treatments for diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and more.
Why all of the effort? Because we realize people have options. We hope that they will select us, but how can we be sure? One wise person, our banker Randy Lu, recently taught me a marketing term he called ‘top of head.’ We want to be at the top of everybody’s head. When a doctor diagnoses macular degeneration, we want this doctor to think of us. When a doctor sees a diabetic patient, we want this doctor to think of us. When a patient is newly diagnosed with diabetes, we want the patient to ask their PCP if they can see us. Even though we do not like to think of our medical practice as a business, it really is a business. We aim to provide personalized state-of-the-art care in a nurturing environment. We just have to get the word out. We are here!