Ten tips for doctors on growing a private practice – how to ‘do’ retail

Despite the economic gloom there are many opportunities for consultants to take their private practice to the next level, says Adrian Stevenson, an associate of the independent healthcare sector consultancy Laing & Buisson.

Here are some of the top tips he will be sharing at Private Practice 2013:

1.) Medical insurance paid by companies funds the lion’s share of private healthcare but one of the fastest growing markets is self-pay. Demand is being driven by the state of the NHS and concerns about the complexity and price of medical insurance. The British are not very good at asking what private treatment costs so offering a fixed rate all-inclusive package deal is very attractive for these patients. Be clear about what everything costs. Promote price and value for money.

2.) Increasing public awareness of cancer and lifestyle-related conditions through the internet and TV shows is also driving demand for private healthcare. Appeal to these informed patients by giving them more information and choice, publish outcomes data and offer hand-outs. Hone your communication skills, engage with patients through eye-to-eye contact and offer a welcoming environment and a good bedside manner.

3.) The private sector is brilliant at moaning about patients – don’t ever blame the customer, remember you are a retail business, people are paying for the service either themselves or through their company and they want value for money.

4.) Make sure you know who your customers are – insurers pay at least 80% of all hospital bills so make sure you know who the big players are in your area.

5.) Get insurance bills paid promptly by making sure that you understand what the rules are for reimbursement to avoid invoices being sent back with errors.

6.) Treat private medical insurers seriously as they frequently want to change the way they pay because consultants’ fees comprise 40% of claims.  The insurers are not altruistic organisations.

7.) Form a good relationship with the management team at your local private hospital as they can help you to develop your practice and ensure that your name pops up at the top of the list when there is a referral.

8.) Identify and secure new markets by checking out the trends in your specialty. IVF, bariatric surgery and cancer treatment for example are set to boom.

9.) Work with colleagues so you can provide a holistic team approach for example by combining surgical and cardiological skills.

10.) Employ marketing and PR people to promote your brand.

Adrian Stevenson is speaking at Private Practice Conference. Click here to attend.

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