Ophthalmology Business

OCT 2013

Ophthalmology Business is focused on business topics relevant to the entrepreneurial ophthalmologist. It offers editorial, opinion, and practical tips for physicians running an ophthalmic practice. It is a companion publication of EyeWorld.

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continued from page 25 4. 5. 26 'American way,' it might be boring for them," said Mr. Mahdavi. People from many Latin American countries may have had a more personal relationship with their physicians when they were growing up; physicians might have even come to their house and stayed for coffee to catch up. Although that approach won't usually work in today's volume market, the lesson is that many older Hispanic patients might expect their doctors to be more personable, Dr. Korzenny explained. You can find out about your niche market's approach to doctors and medicine and train yourself and your staff accordingly. Another example: At The Eye Specialists Center on the outskirts of Chicago, medical staff members see patients of diverse backgrounds, including Muslim, Spanish-speaking, Palestinian, Greek, and more, said Benjamin Ticho, MD, Chicago Ridge, Ill. Staff members noticed that some devout Muslim patients who were waiting for appointments needed a quiet area for their afternoon prayers. They now make available a more private area of the practice space so, if requested, these patients can complete their afternoon prayers. Tap into your patient base to help design your marketing campaign. Let's say you're targeting the Chinese market in your area. Form a small advisory board with existing patients who can review drafts of your marketing efforts. Pay these patients a small honorarium for their time. They'll tell you if your efforts will likely attract more business, Mr. Mahdavi said. Don't overlook traditional media. Although social media and website advertising are the 6. 7. 8. focus these days for obvious reasons, niche cultural markets still rely heavily on radio, newspaper, and even TV stations geared toward their communities. These could be good places for your ads. In your ads, invite members of your target community to an open house or to just drop by your practice and take a look to make them feel more comfortable, Dr. Korzenny suggested. Hire someone bilingual. Again, if 20% of your patients or more speak another language, then you should have at least one staff member who can communicate with them. However, Mr. Mahdavi believes this person can serve various roles in your office. He/she might work as a refractive counselor as well as a technician. Or he/she might work at the front desk. At Dr. Ticho's practice, they always make sure that at least one Spanish-speaking person is in the office. The important thing is that physicians and other medical staff have access to their linguistic help as needed. But don't assume that patients cannot speak English, Dr. Ticho said. In fact, many of the patients his offices serve may have another native language, but they are bilingual. If they're not, they'll usually bring a family member with them who can speak English well. Even if these patients can speak some English, they usually like the comfort of getting medical care issues explained to them in their native tongue, he said. Rely on professional translation help for your marketing materials. Say you're targeting a local Mexican community and you have someone in your office from the Caribbean who speaks Spanish. Although the two Ophthalmology Business • October 2013 groups can obviously communicate, they have word- and phrase-level differences, so written materials can get lost in translation, not unlike the difference between American and British English. You'll want to rely on a translator or translation organization that knows the nuances of the language. 9. Use a cultural insight that you can include in your marketing, Dr. Korzenny suggested. One example: Is diabetes or glaucoma more common in the population you are targeting? That's something you could mention in your ads and focus on the importance of regular exams or using targeted medications. "Find a cultural insight to show that you'll treat them better than the competition," Dr. Korzenny said. 10. Learn a few phrases. Dr. Ticho has learned a few eye examrelated phrases in Greek, Spanish, and even Chinese. "I'll tell them it's the one thing I know in their language, but patients really appreciate it, and it provides comic relief," he said. 11. Think long term. Some of the patients that Dr. Ticho's offices serve are on public assistance, which can create some payment and reimbursement headaches. However, his office sees patients of all ages, and they'll often find that patients will return with other family members who may have insurance or be in better positions to pay for their eyecare. "We want to be as welcoming as we can," he said. OB Contact information Korzenny: 850-583-0378, fkorzenny@gmail.com Mahdavi: 925-425-9900, shareef@sm2strategic.com Ticho: 708-423-4070, bticho@mac.com

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