COVID-19: Conduct a Strategic Review of Your Dermatology Practice
When it comes to reopening your practice and working your way back into your new normal, you may find it incredibly helpful to conduct a strategic review of your dermatology practice. While that may look a little different for every dermatology practice owner, let’s explore some of the most common pieces of a successful strategic review.
In particular, consider these pieces when you conduct a strategic review:
- Revisit your mission statement, vision statement, and values.
- Review your strategic plan.
- Define and develop your marketing strategy.
- Update your digital footprint.
- Focus on building community.
Let’s take a closer look at each piece.
Revisit your mission statement, vision statement, and values
You might consider this a natural starting point to conduct a strategic review of your dermatology practice, as these three pieces—your mission statement, vision statement, and underlying organizational values—should be the bedrock of all you and your team do. Your mission statement should help you outline your practice’s purpose, define your business, and identify your core customer base. Your vision statement should help you map those pieces to a long-term objective and, in turn, help guide internal decision-making. Finally, your organizational values should help you define how as team members each person helps the practice achieve the respective mission and vision. Together, these three pieces—your mission statement, vision statement, and organizational values—may help you not only select but also retain like-minded team members.
Consider VitalSkin Dermatology as an example. Our mission statement is “VitalSkin Dermatology is a world-class dermatology and aesthetics practice management organization built from the ground up to align with the clinical, financial, and lifestyle priorities of its partner physicians.” That mission statement outlines our purpose (to align with the clinical, financial, and lifestyle priorities of our partner physicians), defines our business (a dermatology and aesthetics practice management organization), and identifies our core customer base (our partner physicians). The VitalSkin Dermatology vision statement is to support 150 partner physicians by December 31, 2030, which maps those pieces to a long-term focus and helps guide internal decision-making. Our organizational values are represented in our values statement: As a company and as individuals, we serve our partner physicians every day by having fun, being a team, being resilient, being accountable, being courageous, and being entrepreneurial.
While your mission statement, vision statement, and organizational values are likely different, revisiting them periodically and especially during any strategic review—such as while reopening your business during this unprecedented time—may help guide your decision-making and help you keep your business on track.
Review your strategic plan
Revisiting your strategic plan can likewise help inform your decisions. Crafting a problem statement first may help, as well. For instance, when VitalSkin Dermatology recently embarked in strategic planning, our problem statement was this: “The challenge at hand is to define a market strategy in the dermatology and aesthetic practice management space that differentiates us from large physician-owned and private equity-owned group practices and provides a compelling value proposition to our partner physicians.” Developing our problem statement in this way allowed us to identify our strategic choices that would best allow us to work through uncertainty to still create and capture value.
After you craft a problem statement, your next step may be to identify big decisions. Toward that aim, you may want to ask guiding questions that could be impacted by COVID-19, such as the following:
- Which customers should we serve?
- How can we best protect and serve them?
- Which services should we offer?
- Which geographies should we serve?
- How should we compete?
- What timeline should we use in rolling out choices?
You might see how those questions can tie in with your mission statement, vision statement, and organizational values, as well. Jim Collins suggests in Good to Great that a great strategic plan answers three questions:
- What can you be the best in the world at?
- What can you be passionate about?
- What drives your economic engine?
Collins suggests that if your answers to those questions can converge, you have a compelling and winning strategy, or what he refers to as a company’s hedgehog. At VitalSkin Dermatology, our answer to all three questions converges and focuses on our partner physicians.
In your dermatology practice, what is your hedgehog? If you can review your strategic plan with those three questions in mind, you may be surprised how well it can simplify your decision-making process as you explore how to best reopen.
Define and develop your marketing strategy
Reviewing your strategic plan may also function as a nice lead-in when it comes to defining and developing your marketing strategy, as the first step of any great marketing strategy is defining your market segments. While an ideal marketing strategy may include segmenting by subgroups or archetypes, that kind of market research can also be incredibly expensive. As a result, most dermatology practices may wish to consider more generic patient segments like age, gender, geography, and payor. Because those patient segments may include competing needs and desires, you may see your best results in picking and choosing the market segments on which you want to focus. Once you identify those market segments, you can develop a comprehensive marketing plan—or, if you already have a comprehensive marketing plan, revise it accordingly. Reviewing your marketing plan with an eye toward your chosen market segments may help you identify places where your current marketing can be improved to create more value. For instance, social media can be a great place to refresh your presence and develop a calendar for the coming weeks and months—especially as your potentially quarantined patients are likely getting more screen time than usual. Similarly, consider where marketing via different channels or marketing other aspects of your practice may create more value.
One caveat, and one we’ll explore more fully in our community focus: Keep in mind how your local community may be struggling. Selling too much can alienate your audience, including patients who may have previously been loyal and supportive. As a result, focusing on positive things your practice is doing or can do in your community may be a more effective tactic.
Update your digital footprint
Updating your website, social pages, Google Business, and Yelp listings to reflect hours that may be shifting with patient demand and right-size scheduling is a great place to start. It’s likely that your patients also want to know what to expect when they visit your office. Consider including an overview of the safety measures you put into place as a result of COVID-19 to ensure patient safety. Updating your digital footprint will ensure that patients (and prospective patients) are updated on how your services and hours might be impacted by COVID-19 and ensure that patients know how to contact you in case of an emergency.
Focus on building community
It’s a perfect time to build community connections around your practice. With record unemployment, people notice businesses that are there for them instead of merely there for their money. Find ways you and your team can help in your local community and you may be surprised at the way people remember and choose to reward your business in the future. When it comes to choosing between two otherwise equal service providers, patients are more likely than ever right to remember those businesses that have been there for the local community. As a result, not only is being there for your local community the right thing to do, but it may prove good business practice, too. There’s no better time to rededicate your practice to being a community partner than right now.
Let this be a starting point for your own strategic review. Consider what you can do today, tomorrow, and as you reopen your practice in stages to ensure you are in the best shape possible. And don’t be afraid to ask for help, either, as we are all in this together!