In the healthcare industry brands are chosen by patients on trust. People rich, poor, educated or even illiterates consult their friends, colleagues and family members before choosing a particular doctor.

Referral marketing plays a very important role in establishing the credibility of any healthcare set up – the only question being that how we promote or rather brand the healthcare facility and what is the extent of the geographic areas which we can consider as the catchment areas for generating new business.

There is no rational spreadsheet or framework available. That being so, it all boils down to trust. In healthcare the TRUST word rules. Word of mouth is the most important tool.

Branding the healthcare facility – a brand is an emotional relationship ( an intangible) which creates or gives an impression to the customer which makes it choose one healthcare facility over the other – there are myriad factors which go into branding a healthcare facility, from whether it is a multi specialty facility or whether it is a specialized treatment centre.

For a multi specialty centre, it would be advisable to compare the healthcare set up with the other similar existing healthcare setups and chalk out a plan to project the perceived shortcomings (in other setups) as our strengths – however caution needs to be exercised in projecting strengths, which should be something for which a consumer sees a perceived value and which would attract him to your facility. Besides the standard of healthcare practitioners and quality of healthcare services and infrastructure, it comes down to the level of services – you can project the minimum wait time, friendliness of auxiliary staff, reporting time etc which build a cumulative experience for a client.

A specialized treatment centre, which is a pioneer in its field, has to speak from the mantle of a leader – all the communication and branding has to deliver the same message and evoke trust and confidence in the minds of the patients.

Catchment Areas – for a healthcare set up to determine the extent of geographic area it needs to advertise in, the following points have to be taken into consideration:

The patient population has to be compared with the hospital’s catchment-area population in terms of demographics and other characteristics

The size of the set up – how many clients can it serve effectively

Presence of other players offering similar procedures

What do we perceive the market size of the procedure and not to mention the consideration of the geographic distance which the patient would be willing to travel for the treatment.