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    Quality service boosts dermatology practices during recession

    National report — The recession is reminding dermatologists about the importance of excellent service, savvy marketing and a personal touch, experts say. They share these lessons:

    • Market internally. Howard Murad, M.D., an El Segundo, Calif., private practitioner, says that early this year, his three-physician practice held an open house, which drew about 80 attendees, including local physicians. Six new patients booked procedures.
    • Embrace the Web. Many dermatologists have not yet grasped the importance of Web site development and search engine optimization (SEO), says Andrew Eriksen, executive director, Physician Practice Specialists.

    "Any practice spending more on Yellow Pages ads than SEO or Web development is going down the wrong path," he says.

    • Meet and greet. "Before you throw money at high-priced advertising," says Mark Cheiken, D.O., a Palm Coast, Fla., private practitioner, "get out there in the community.

    "I've always found that the best return comes from meeting people personally."

    • Forge a bond. "You've got to be good with your patients. To keep those patients from going to other dermatologists and/or primary care physicians, you must establish that bond," says Stephen D'Addario, M.D., a Dublin, Ohio, private practitioner.
    • Prioritize customer service. "No one should ever call into a doctor's office and get a busy signal," Mr. Eriksen says.
    • Create convenience. Offer evening and Saturday hours, experts say, and track key access indicators.
    • Shop around. Dr. D'Addario says switching suppliers of incidentals such as gauze and sutures has saved his practice 5 percent to 25 percent, without compromising quality.

    John Jesitus
    John Jesitus is a medical writer based in Westminster, CO.

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