Marketing in the osteopathic practice
Permanent link to Research Bank record:http://hdl.handle.net/10652/1861
Introduction: The number of osteopathic and other healthcare practitioners is growing, causing increased patient choice and competition in healthcare. Alongside this growth, there is increased global economic turmoil resulting in tighter monetary spending. Consequently, the need for marketing in osteopathy appears to be increasing. There is a dearth of research and few anecdotal articles in the literature related to marketing in osteopathy. Therefore, the three main aims in this dissertation are: 1) To investigate what factors influence marketing in the osteopathic practice 2) To identify what, if any, marketing strategies are being used 3) To compare what the practitioners perceives to be successful promotional strategies with what the patient reports as bring them to the practice. Method: This study employed a mixed method design of quantitative questionnaires and qualitative thematic analysis. The quantitative questionnaires were used to ask 287 patients from five purposely selected clinics about how/where they had initially heard about the practice. The qualitative interviews involved six osteopathic participants from the five clinics to gain a deeper understanding of what factors influence marketing in osteopathy and what marketing strategies they perceived to be successful. Thematic analysis was used to find common themes and statistical analysis was used to compare patient reported results with the participants’ estimated results. Results: Key themes regarding factors influencing marketing in the osteopathic practice were inadequate definition of what constitutes osteopathy (osteopathic definition), problems within the osteopathic profession and lack of healthcare marketing knowledge and understanding. It was identified that none of the participants had marketing strategies but nevertheless used marketing. They all used parts of the ‘four P’ marketing mix strategy; promotion, product, place and price. The observed results from the patients, indicated that word-of-mouth accounted for 68%, referral for 16% and advertising for 15% of promotion. Advertising had the largest variability and misperception by practitioners. Conclusions: This research concluded with three major recommendations. It is suggested that educational institutions need to incorporate further marketing into the curriculum, which could be achieved by introducing a practical clinical component. Professional cohesion needs to be developed to establish an accepted identity and definition for osteopathy. The identity then needs to be communicated to target audiences at an individual level.