It Takes Will to Fight Commoditization
Over the past ten years, medical imaging has evolved to a highly competitive specialty in which patients and referrers are failing to see the value of your facility over another. “Commoditization” is the word that has been used ad infinitum. What may be surprising is that the evolution was not only avoidable, it is still correctable. What is required for the course correction, however, is not a new business or marketing plan, nor a new CEO or any other administrative change. What it takes is the one element that is responsible for the success or failure of any business: It takes will. If you underwent an honest evaluation of your efforts to stay competitive over the past ten years, could you truthfully say that you gave it your best effort? Most readers could not. Most readers would say that they made an effort, but it was halfhearted at best; that they delegated the responsibility for this extremely important task to someone who was either not qualified to do the job or lacked the will to see it through. Having the will to succeed means dedicating yourself to a cause and believing that the only way you will fail is if you quit. Having the will to succeed means that you create your vision of the future of your medical imaging enterprise, share it with others, and commit time each day to reaching your goal. Today, it is not enough to want to remain viable. Today, you need to be desirable; you need to position your facility so that patients immediately understand why their physician did not think twice about sending them to you. That’s the goal. To achieve it, there are many tactical maneuvers you can execute. By themselves, none of these will make much of an impact. But together they are powerful and will go a long way toward overcoming the commodity perception:
  1. Take a picture of each patient and include it with every scan for the radiologist to see.
  2. Stop making patients wait. It is still their number one complaint and it supports their belief you are no different than anyplace else.
  3. Spend 30 minutes each day reaching out to referrers. Make a phone call or send an e-mail or thank you note.
  4. Carve out time each day to meet select patients. If you think you don’t have time, you still don’t get it.
  5. Hold a staff meeting every Monday morning. Bring them in early if necessary. If you’re not sure what to say, step aside and let someone else do it.
  6. Commit to best practices. With rare exceptions, the challenges your medical imaging facility is facing have been faced by others. Find out what they did, even if it means learning from their mistakes.
  7. Understand that change is inevitable but that change is also malleable. Get comfortable initiating change instead of reacting to it.
  8. Most important: Make the commitment to your goal the most important professional task you must accomplish each day.
You are not a victim and you are not powerless. To seize control of the imaging business at which you have labored for so long, make the commitment and find the will.

Steve SmithWith over 25 years of marketing experience — nine years as a former Vice President of Marketing for a leading healthcare marketing company — Steve Smith has consistently developed effective strategies to help fuel the growth of countless healthcare enterprises. Since 2007, he has specialized as a marketing and business development consultant to medical imaging facilities nationwide. Mr. Smith has been a featured speaker at imaging conferences and is a former member of the marketing subcommittee of the Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA). He has contributed marketing articles to numerous healthcare publications, including Physician’s Money Digest, Radiology Business Journal and more. Mr. Smith is the creator of “Ten Seconds to Great Customer Service™,” a medical imaging training program that provides easy-to-use tactical customer service support to staff.