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Why Physician Leaders Should Think Like Marketers

By Anna Mueller, MS02 Dec 2019
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As a physician leader, your head is often swimming with innovative ideas for solving complex challenges within your organization. But while you know making these changes can help your team meet crucial goals, your colleagues may not always share your enthusiasm.

So how can you gain buy-in for your big plans and drive the transformation you know your healthcare organization needs?

Surprisingly, the best way for physician leaders to gain internal support for projects is to think like marketers.

Here’s how:

Consider Your Audience

The best marketers are intimately familiar with their audience, including their pain points, challenges and personal goals. If you’re looking to earn buy-in from others within your organization, take time to learn more about what’s keeping them up at night and what motivates them each day. Use that intel to better tailor your message.

For example, let’s say you want to increase patient satisfaction scores by implementing a new patient-centered care program. You know you need buy-in from surgeons to keep the program afloat. You also know the surgeons you lead are grappling with stress and burnout, and their goal is to decrease re-hospitalization and improve patient outcomes.

The best way to earn surgeons’ support for your program would be to explain how patient-centered care can curb re-hospitalization and improve patient-provider communication, thereby reducing the burden on the surgeons’ shoulders.

“Try comparing your plan to a successful, historic business development that your boss tends to reference,” says Leslie Zane, founder and president of Triggers Growth Strategy, in an article for the American Association for Physician Leadership. “Use compelling metaphors that evoke images of success.”

Start with a Well-Planned Strategy
Great marketers are meticulous planners. They know that mapping their efforts from beginning to end is the best way to set their campaigns up for success.

Start by defining your primary objective and work backward. Determine the message you want to share, as well as how and where you’ll deliver that message. Consider how you’ll roll out the program, how you’ll boost and maintain engagement from internal teams and how you’ll measure and report success.

It’s crucial you monitor performance and share progress with your teams. When they know the work they’ve been doing is helping the organization meet its goals, they’ll feel more invested.

Find and Empower Your Advocates
When marketing professionals want to establish credibility and interest in a product or service, they sometimes tap well-known figures or “influencers” with a dedicated following to help them promote their offering.

Physician leaders can do the same by identifying the biggest champions of the cause within your organization and asking for their vocal support. Give them the education and tools they need to help you roll out changes and meet your objective.

Driving transformation within healthcare organizations can be challenging, especially when some physicians and other healthcare professionals are change-averse. However, by leveraging a marketing approach, you can overcome resistance and ensure your initiatives take hold.

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