The third method may be the most effective, however. Check the physician lists of the insurance network you are part of. This will not only tell you which practices are nearby but also which ones are going to be directly competing for the same patients. Most insurance companies today make these lists available on the Internet.
Using these methods you should be able to create a list of your practice's competitors. Now it's time for the next step.
What Do You Know About Your Competition?
Remember it's not enough to know who you competitors are. You also have to learn a little something about them.
Let's look at an example. If you were trying to find an ideal location for your new medical practice and you find six competing practices in your area which were all affiliated with your same insurance network, you might decide to choose a different location on the basis of just that information. However, you could be making a mistake by abandoning those plans.
If you contacted each of those medical practices and asked one of two simple questions, you might have made a better choice. The first question is “Are you accepting new patients?” and the second is “How long would it be before I could get an appointment?” When several practices are so overloaded that they cannot take new patients or when it takes week for a new patient to get an appointment, you can be sure that the area has enough patients to feed your practice as well.
Besides this information, you may also want to learn a few other things about your competitors. For example, what services and treatment options do they provide? Find out if there is something you offer that the others do not. For example, if your practice does all of its lab work in-house instead of forcing patients to go elsewhere for blood tests then that may give you an advantage.
Look at how long your competitors have been practicing. If your area has three competitors but two of them are very near retirement age, then you may be entering the field at the right time. After all, when the physicians retire all of their patients will need to work with someone else.
Find out about the medical practice's customer service reputation. Ask around at clubs and events to find out what people think of your competition. If they have a strong, positive reputation, then you may face an uphill battle. On the other hand, if the office staff is unfriendly and the doctor is considered cold and hard to work with, you may have an advantage.
As you do your research, remember two things: 1) You need to be able to set your practice apart from your competition and 2) Your competition may help you get new patients.
For example, if you discover that your competition does provide poor customer service then you could use your exceptional customer service as a selling point to attract customers. Furthermore, if several of your competitors are nearing retirement, you could work on forming a relationship with them so that when the time comes they refer their existing patients to you.
The Bottom Line
Identifying your competition may not help you provide better medical treatment to patients but it can assist you in establishing a solid practice and in attracting new patients. Recognizing where your patients may come from, determining which practices will be in direct competition with you, and doing some research on those competitors will prepare you for choosing a location for your practice and marketing it effectively.
Resources Used in Article
How Location Can Make or Break Your Practice – Medical Economics
Marketing Made Easy – Physicians Practice
About the Author
Amy Jorgensen is a freelance writer based in southern Indiana. Her articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including Southern California Physician magazine.
The author has no financial relationship to any of the companies listed in the article.