A Physician Practice By Any Other Name…
By Mary Aviles
A little backstory for this post: my husband is a board-certified plastic surgeon. He completed his training a little less than five years ago. And, if you’ve read my bio, you’ll know that I spent the last 16 years working in various aspects of marketing strategy. A large percentage of my work has been with hospitals, health systems, physician practices, insurance entities and medical device manufacturers. Add to that growing up in a medical family and supporting a medical student then surgeon through thirteen years of training and it’s safe to say that I have a pretty holistic view of the industry.
Until recently, my husband worked as part of an established entity—either part of a partnership or for a company. There was very little marketing being conducted, that is to say, he didn’t have much opportunity to influence what was being done. Beyond help with some tactics, like establishing a website, he didn’t have much need of my services.
However, he is embarking upon a new arrangement with a local health system whereby he will be hospital employed to provide specific surgical services while still practicing other surgical services solo. A simple question about the practice name inspired this post:
“Do you have a name for the Practice or did you want to use your name followed by your specialties?”
Good question. In the past, he’s practiced under his name followed by his two primary specialties (hand and plastic surgery) to communicate to prospective patients that he offered both. However, there were a couple of problems with that approach:
- His name is difficult for many people to pronounce and spell. And, it limits him should he decide to take on a partner(s) in the future.
- Patients and referring physicians tended to think of him as primarily a “hand guy” when he went this route; he was losing the association with plastic surgery—a potentially lucrative aspect of his practice
So, I reached out to my network of experienced professionals—one of whom just happens to be an expert in Naming. Steve Rivkin offered this advice (with example names included to illustrate his points):
Option 1: GEOGRAPHIC name. These names do not have to be literal, as in Franklin Avenue Plastic Surgery or EastSide Plastic Surgery. They can be suggestive of the terrain or area, or some feature of it – Hillside Plastic Surgery, or Metro Plastic Surgery, or Boulevard Plastic Surgery, or Mezzanine Plastic Surgery. And by embracing a term with upside and cachet, you get away from a negative or inappropriate “real” place designator.
Option 2: DESCRIPTIVE name. This descriptive word could take you anywhere. Steer clear of Latin roots, unless it’s very accessible. Praxis Plastic Surgery = no. But maybe Excela Plastic Surgery, with its promise of fine performance. These names make promises, so avoid the blatantly self-congratulatory. Northstar Plastic Surgery works a lot better than Sterling Plastic Surgery, for example.
Addendum: A particular outside interest or enthusiasm could find its way into the name, which makes for a story to tell on a website or in the office about the name. For example, an office decorated with a golf motif, might take its name from the lexicon of that sport: Fairway Plastic Surgery.
This advice inspired a great option for the practice, which still needs to be properly vetted via business entity searches, etc. It’s a mix of Option 1 plus Addendum. My darling husband, doubting my obvious brilliance, still needs some convincing (and less time golfing with opinionated dentists).
Stay tuned as I promise to share the Name, the Mark, the website and any relevant signage once I am liberty to do so.