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Considerations When Marketing Physician Dispensing to Patients

September 20, 2017
Posted by: Michael Szczepkowski, Director of Account Management, Onsite 340B

Prior to opening your physician dispensary, it important to understand that most, if not all, of your patient population will be unfamiliar with the in-office dispensary service and how it may improve their lives. Unfamiliarity often breeds skepticism and uncertainty, which can lead to hesitation or even refusal to use the dispensary. So, how best to introduce the dispensary and encourage patient acceptance? Below are several effective marketing strategies that may help you persuade patients to use your physician dispensary.

Understand and Leverage Patient Perceptions

Many research studies have been conducted to determine patients’ attitudes towards physician dispensing based on their experiences with the service – see our blog, “Physician Dispensing – Researchers’ Findings on Health Management and Patient Experience.” Such findings can be used to highlight perceived benefits when marketing, such as the convenience of “one-stop-shopping”.

In addition, expressed concerns can be leveraged, such as misperceptions of cost and wait times. I have seen many patients approach the dispensary and ask to have their prescriptions sent across town because they have already spent more than an hour in the health center. Use your marketing materials to proactively compare the waiting time at the in-office dispensary (typically a few minutes) to the time involved in driving across town and waiting in-line to be serviced. Be clear about copays and describe opportunities your dispensary service offers your uninsured patients.

Know How to Reach your Patients

Your practice’s patient population is likely not homogeneous with respect to how they receive and digest marketing communications. Younger patients are more reachable through their phones or tablets with social media and texting while older patients are more accessible though printed material. Patients with internet access may actively seek out your website or Facebook page, yet patients with less financial means and education may access more passive media such as radio or TV. Hence a “one-size-fits-all” strategy is not optimal. Spending a little time to understand the best channels of marketing communications for subsets of your population will result in a more effective marketing strategy.

Remember the Value of In-Person Marketing

With the advent of social media and texting over the past decade, the simplicity of printing color handouts and signs in the office and the ease of sending a Constant Contact email to patients with the press of a button, it is very important to remember the extraordinary power of in-person, one-on-one interactions and just what a highly effective marketing tool they can be. Each human interaction during an in-office visit, whether with the front desk staff, the Medical Assistant or with the prescriber in the encounter room, presents an opportunity to persuade the patient of the dispensary’s benefits. All health center staff should be able to speak knowledgably and comfortably about the dispensary service. Create or seek additional in-person marketing opportunities such as hosting a dispensary open-house or speaking at local community events.

Assess What Works and What Doesn’t

With very little effort, you can obtain feedback on the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. While a brief written survey may be effective, consider a more personal touch. Have the providers ask their patients about their experience during follow-up visits or routine phone calls. Have the front desk staff solicit feedback from the patient as they are leaving. Solicit and consolidate feedback regularly and then present the feedback during practice meetings and develop adjustments as a team.

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