In this guest post, Phil Sharp fondly remembers his math teacher and finds an insightful and practical lesson for medical practice marketing. It’s all about smashing boring routine with a highly memorable patient experience.

TrigonometryTriangleI know you’re a busy doctor, but if you let me tell you a quick story about my former trigonometry teacher, Mr. Knox, then I promise to make it worth your time. Without realizing it, Mr. Knox was teaching me as much about marketing a medical practice as he was about three sided objects.

Let me explain.

A Different Tie For Every Day

For my entire academic life, math class followed the same routine. Enter class, sit down, listen to a lecture, go home. Or, on exciting days: enter class, sit down, complete Scantron, go home.

But, Mr. Knox was remarkably–and quite memorably–different…and anything but “routine.” He would dance around class, drive a toy train around the chalkboard, hand write his own tests, quote Star Trek, and wear a different tie every single day of the year.

By breaking with routine, Mr. Knox is the only math teacher I remember, and he’s the reason I’m still a master of calculating the Sine, Cosine and Tangent of different angles. (I’m the first to admit this doesn’t come in handy very often, but still, it made all the difference.) Whenever someone asks me about school or math, I talk about Mr. Knox.

Help Your Patients Talk About You

As with math class, there’s a routine involved with visiting the doctor. By breaking with the routine you give your patients a reason to talk about you with their family, friends, and online. This word-of-mouth marketing is incredibly powerful because:

  1. Friends and family trust and appreciate personal suggestions.
  2. It’s completely free.

When you invent ways to make the in-office patient experience outside of the routine and highly memorable, it inspires patients to talk about you, and in the process, they make referrals.

Some Examples To Prime the Pump

Depending on the nature of your practice or profession you’ll want to invent your own ways to make your practice noticeably different. As a starting point, think about the ways Mr. Knox broke routine with traditional teaching techniques, and then consider these idea starters:

  • Put iPads in the exam rooms for the patients to use to pass the time.
  • Give each patient a mini-picnic box filled with fruits and vegetables after their appointment.
  • Offer to call your patients when the doctor is ready for them (rather than make them sit in the waiting room).
  • Give first time patients a welcome bag filled with goodies.
  • Teach a magic trick to every patient.
  • Write a thank you card following each visit.
  • Give your waiting room a library theme.

When a great doctor delivers a memorable patient experience, patients will spread the word and likely will retain more of the medical information they received.

If you are willing to share examples of ways that you set yourself apart, then be sure to leave them in the comments section below.

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Phil Sharp is a team member at Practice Fusion, the fastest growing Electronic Medical Records community. Practice Fusion’s EMR software is completely free and web-based. Contact Phil at or on Twitter at @IAmPhilSharp.

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Healthcare Success welcomes guest authors and medical marketing posts of interest to our diverse subscriber audience of doctors and healthcare business and marketing executives from hospitals, private practices, medical groups, manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and others. Our editorial content includes healthcare marketing ideas and information that is informative, educational and helpful to readers' marketing endeavors. Guest authors may submit ideas for previously unpublished, original articles (about 450 words) via email to the editor:


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