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How to...promote your practice

Business efficiency and clinical excellence in general practice is not enough. Patients must know you are good. Your job is to make this clear in the public domain. Here are some of the strategies you can use.

Business efficiency and clinical excellence in general practice is not enough. Patients must know you are good. Your job is to make this clear in the public domain. Here are some of the strategies you can use.

1. Devise appropriate publicity stunts, such as getting your local MP to open the new extension to your premises.</li>1. Have a signature house style that ensures clear and concise communication. For example, consider having a special typeface or colour scheme for your practice publicity and information material.

2. Develop a code of standards – insist on prompt answering of the telephone, a pleasant waiting room environment, efficient appointment systems, good timekeeping by staff and partners, smart dress code, prompt turnaround for medical reports, an effective and patient-friendly complaints procedure and so on.

3. Develop a comprehensive menu of information to be provided in reception and waiting rooms, in the practice handbook, in the practice newsletter, on the website and in targeted mailshots.

4. Publicise the practice's successes in-house or in the local media.

5. Co-operate with the media where possible, including giving interviews and so on. But beware risks of breaching patient confidentiality.

6. Specify goals to your staff and partners and put a realistic time limit on them – for example, a practice website to be operational by a certain date, or a 10% increase in private income by a certain date.

7. Devise appropriate publicity stunts, such as getting your local MP to open the new extension to your premises.

General practice now operates in a more businesslike environment than ever before. We must therefore learn how to exploit every opportunity that comes our way – and to create opportunities for ourselves.

Dr Melanie Wynne-Jones is a GP in Marple, Cheshire

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