If you grew up in the United States, you probably watched TV shows that centered around a medical doctor…the “Family Practitioner!” Do you remember: Ben Casey MD, Marcus Welby MD, Trapper John MD, Quincy ME, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman? The episodes focused on the relationship the doctor developed with the patients and their families. For nearly a century the term MD was synonymous with “Family Practice” in the minds of Americans.
Then, there was a shift away from the Family Practice to the Hospital.
This change was led by the enduring success of the soap opera General Hospital. Here are just a few more you may have seen: The Bold Ones, The New Doctors, Emergency!, Doctors’ Hospital, St. Elsewhere, Doogie Howser, Chicago Hope, ER, Strong Medicine, Crossing Jordan, House, Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs.
This shift was followed by a continued glamorizing of the medical specialist with shows like Nip/Tuck, CSI, and Body of Proof.
What does this mean to you? Why should you care?
How did things reach this point? Over the past 20 years, Medical doctors in family practices began to face a number of woes; a decline in reimbursement for services, increasing regulatory pressures, soaring malpractice insurance costs, malpractice suits and declining student interest.
Take a look at some of the Medical Journal headlines, a quick Google search will find dozens of similar articles. Their exodus creates an opportunity!
There has NEVER been a better time to BRAND your practice as the “NEW Family Practice!”
As licensed, healthcare professionals who have NOT been on the insurance dole, you have all learned how to be independent, successful and profitable without the very things that are driving the MDs out of their family practice!
The idiom “Nature abhors a vacuum” refers to the idea that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural, as they go against the laws of nature and physics. The departure of the MDs from “family practice” has created a vacuum in the minds of the population that needs to be filled! Let’s fill it!
Now, you may be wondering, ‘How do I fill that space? How do I brand myself as the New Family Practice?’
Branding is the science of blending images and words. Take a look at the example to the right. I can, literally, change any text on those images, but as long as my font and colors match, you immediately think of those three brands of candy bars. These combinations have been deeply ingrained in our minds.
Now, let’s take a look at the ‘Family Practice’ brand. How have medical doctors branded this term? Here are some typical samples.
The point I want to make is this: THEY REALLY HAVEN’T BRANDED IT!
They have used the term as an ‘umbrella’ that can contain any number of different practitioners underneath. Medical schools award degrees in Family Medicine, Family Practitioner, General Practitioner and Primary-Care Physician. I have not been able to find any legal limitation to the business descriptor “Family Practice.” Just to be safe, I recommend adding the word “NEW” to the term Family Practice. “New Family Practice” is unique and will certainly remove any potential legal issues while leveraging the concept created by the MD’s over the past 100 years.
In conclusion…do your homework, research the laws in your state, make certain you are protected and then take advantage of this shift in family healthcare!
Now may be the perfect time for an identity makeover! Especially if you’re signage looks like one of the pictures shown below! (I’ll save this discussion for another blog!)