Consumers want the latest style in automobiles, the latest fashions from Paris, and the cutting edge in technology. But patients are gun-shy about embracing experimental medicine or cutting edge technology when it comes to improving their health or enhancing their bodies. That's why doctors on the cutting edge in their area of specialty need public relations. The message of safety, convenience, and success must be conveyed because medical consumers are much more reluctant to be among the first to accept a new medical technique than are buyers of automobiles, computers, furniture or fashion.
Of course, sick people want to be treated with the very latest drug, equipment or method. They just don't want to be the first! And so an innovative doctor introducing new equipment or a new treatment method needs the assistance of a public relations/marketing professional to be successful. No one will agree to eye surgery without being convinced the procedure is absolutely safe. No woman will ever agree to breast augmentation or vaginal rejuvenation without feeling absolutely comfortable about the practitioner. The more sensitive the procedure the greater the need for public relations. It has been my experience that a well-thought out and executed public relations/marketing plan will overcome reluctance by patients to embrace medical innovations.
In my practice that certainly has been the case. While working with prominent doctors over the past several years, I have developed successful marketing campaigns for plastic surgery, LASIK surgery, dental surgery, liposuction and BOTOX. Among the most successful methods is to arrange for radio, television and sports personalities to have the surgery or Doctor Information treatment free and then give testimonials on how great this new surgery or treatment has been for them. I've also arranged for endorsements by popular sports, TV and radio celebrities to help convince customers that it is safe and desirable to use the elective medical procedure. One of my earliest medical clients, who serves as an insightful test case for the theme of this article, is the Windsor Laser Eye Institute (WLEI) founded by Dr. Fouad Tayfour who today is a household name in the Detroit-Windsor market. But when the WLEI became my client Dr. Tayfour was not a household name in Southeast Michigan.
The FDA had not yet approved laser eye surgery and so it was only available in Canada. Dr. Tayfour, a pioneer in Canada and the U.S., opened a clinic in Windsor across the river from Detroit. Thus, because of Windsor's close proximity to Detroit, Dr. Tayfour wanted to reach out to the Greater Detroit metropolitan area. While there was interest in laser vision as a substitute for prescription glasses or contact lenses, initially there was not a flood of traffic over the Ambassador Bridge to the clinic. People are very sensitive about their eyes and very hesitant about being among the first to embrace this revolutionary approach. What about side effects or complications down the road?
How uncomfortable is the procedure? How long will the correction last? Will it damage my eyes? And added to these concerns was the fact that the procedure did not have FDA approval and was not covered by health insurance.
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