I know many hospital marketing teams who feel challenged by the need to market physicians who are foreign-born. The presence of foreign-born physicians is very common. Of course, some hospitals have a greater concentration of these doctors than others.
The challenge? The “perceived” need to overcome stereotypes about foreign doctors – that they’re of second tier quality; the need to make foreigners feel relatable; and the need to overcome thick accents and occasional broken English. “How can this physician be competent when they can’t even speak English?” You get the idea.
These discussions and thoughts about the quality of foreign-born physicians have been very public at times. Here’s a quote from a 2010 press release from Health Affairs:
“Some in the U.S. medical community have questioned the competence of physicians trained abroad. But a new study, to be released on August 3 in Health Affairs’ August issue, indicates that the quality of care provided by these physicians is no different from that provided by physicians trained at U.S. medical schools. In fact, the study–based on data from Pennsylvania, and the first to compare patient outcomes of care by both groups of physicians–found no significant difference in the death rates of patients treated by international medical school graduates versus those treated by graduates of U.S. medical schools.”
“Among the three groups (U.S. nationals trained in the United States, U.S. nationals trained abroad, and foreign nationals trained abroad), patients of foreign-born international medical graduates had the lowest death rates, while those of U.S.-citizen international graduates had the highest. In addition to patient death rates, the study looked at length-of-stay as a measure of quality of care. It found that patients of U.S. graduates had the shortest lengths-of-stay and the patients of U.S.-citizen international graduates had the longest. The variance in length-of-stay between U.S. medical graduates and foreign-born international medical graduates was relatively small, indicating little practical difference between the two.”
To be honest, many of these perceived challenges regarding marketing foreign-born physicians simply live in our minds as marketers and we need to get over it. Give the public a chance to meet these physicians as human beings and caring professionals, and see what happens! At Jennings we’ve taken this tact with our clients and have experienced great success. One way we do this is through the use of online videos that introduce the physician – accent and all!
Check out these videos of foreign-born physicians, and see what you think. I welcome your feedback.