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Scan the internet and you will be able to find a bounty of motivational quotes:
- “The early bird gets the worm.”- William Camden
- “You don’t have to be great to start. But you have to start to be great.”- Zig Ziglar
- “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”- Lao Tzu
- “Someday is not a day of the week.”-Denise Brennan-Nelson
- “A year from now you may wish that you had started today.”- Karen Lamb
- “If you ain’t first, you’re last”-Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights.
What is the underlying thread tying all these motivational quotes?
The power of First Mover Advantage.
Being a pioneer in any niche carries a lot of advantages.
You will be the first to establish a brand/identity in a new burgeoning market.
This can be a quite powerful, especially if your brand becomes synonymous with the product.
How many times have you said I want a Coke instead of soda or pop?
Or for the older readers that you were going to Xerox something instead of copy it?
By being a first mover, consumers have a tendency to view your product as the best and subsequently become loyal customers.
Behavioral studies have shown that even when competitors enter the fray after seeing your success, and believe me they will, consumers tend to stay put, even if the competing product is slightly better.
Call it familiarity, laziness, or unwillingness to deviate from a first mover company’s product line, consumers tend to be set in their ways once a routine is established.
It has been said that a new product has to be 10x better than the original before a consumer even contemplates a switch.
Creating a hurdle that high before market share loss occurs is a distinct advantage for the first mover.
That is not to say that it cannot be done: Netflix conquering Blockbuster and Facebook annihilating Myspace are just a few examples.
It is just that it is a much harder road for the 2nd and subsequent movers in the niche to make any headway/market share gains.
First Mover Advantage in a Medical Practice.
Medical practitioners like the fact that they are helping people, but the bottom line is few of us would be doing this if we were not (highly) compensated for our skills, time, and the risk we undertake.
Medicine, whether it is private practice or in academics, is a business, just like any other.
And how do we raise the financial bottom line?
By capturing and hopefully growing a patient base that provides the encounters/procedures necessary to keep a medical practice cashflow positive.
So how does one capture this elusive patient base?
This can be problematic as there is increasing competition as more and more walk-in clinics are popping up in cities everywhere you go.
This is where First Mover Advantage creates a huge benefit for the group that capitalizes on it.
Patients tend to stick with their healthcare providers long-term.
Once a patient-doctor relationship is established, it is a hard bond to break.
For a medical practice to be viable it is therefore imperative that you attract patients so that they can come in that front door and form this important bond.
Case example of how being a first mover gave my Radiology Department a distinct advantage in our market.
One of the best maneuvers my multi-specialty group practice did several years ago was to be the first in the area to have 3D Mammogram capability across all the machines.
Tomosynthesis, or 3D mammograms, was a quantum leap forward in mammogram technology, which I detailed in my Breast Cancer Awareness post.
Patients became aware of this improvement for mammograms via local media and the internet and began requesting it.
The biggest drawback was that these new mammogram machines were quite expensive, topping over $300k each.
Local competing practices initially did not have this capability or, at best, had just 1 machine in the department that was capable of tomosynthesis.
Our clinic took full advantage of this fact and began an advertising/media campaign informing our patient population that we were the only radiology department that had this 3D mammogram capability across ALL our machines.
First mover advantage worked as we began seeing a huge uptick in mammograms being performed as we took the lion’s share of the market.
Although the competition later began to fully convert to 3D mammograms themselves, the damage was already done.
To this day, years later, our radiology department is inundated with patients requesting mammograms to be done here.
So much so that we had to expand and add an additional dedicated mammography suite to handle the volume.
An additional bonus of having women performing their mammograms in my department was that this led to benefits for the other specialties in the group.
Children and other family members of these patients would be plugged into our pediatric and internal medicine departments.
Any procedures required would be performed by our general surgery department.
It was a self-feeding process that benefited all departments even though the 3D mammogram equipment was a radiology expenditure.
Medicare appears to promote the first mover as well.
This is a pattern I have recognized based on anecdotal evidence about medical reimbursement.
When new, and often expensive, advancements in medical technology occur, Medicare appears to help justify the costs by providing higher initial reimbursement rates.
These higher allowable reimbursement dollars incentivize a practice to adopt start of the art technology.
This was true with 3D mammograms as there was additional medical coding that was approved for a higher reimbursement.
It was much easier to justify purchasing the equipment in front of the finance committee where we could give projected numbers of the increased dollars each study would now bring.
I have witnessed firsthand that this higher reimbursement typically starts tapering off with time as more and more practices adopt the technology.
It is those first movers that take full advantage of the higher reimbursement window than the stragglers who come in at the end.
Blogging is another example of first mover advantage.
I have previously written about the relative ease for someone to start a blog due to a relatively low financial hurdle of creating one.
Unfortunately there are only so many niches a blogger has an opportunity to be in and it can get crowded quite fast.
Even within the very narrow niche of physician finance bloggers, which I am a part of, there are over 70 websites.
A reader has only so much bandwidth and definitely could not be faulted for not keeping up with all the new posts being generated.
I do try to help with this bandwidth dilemma by having the latest offering from each of these physician bloggers located in one convenient place.
It was the earlier pioneers in the space, namely White Coat Investor, Passive Income MD, and Physician On Fire, that burst on the scene and developed a loyal following.
It took me two years of convincing before I started this blog.
Honestly I doubt even joining the first movers in this niche would have propelled me to stardom like those mentioned above, but I certainly did myself no favors by waiting till the 2nd/3rd wave before joining the fray.
The downside of being a first mover.
Not everything is rosy when you are the first to enter your space.
There is obviously a lot of risk involved when you start charting unknown territories.
It is much easier and safer to see someone else test a product first, using their money and time, to see if there is indeed a suitable market.
As a first mover you place a target on your back if your launch is indeed a success.
Many will try to emulate you with some outright knocking-off your product illegally.
These competitors can jump start their production timeline because they do not have to reinvent the wheel.
However with great risk comes great reward and I still feel that being a first mover gives you a distinct advantage.
Now the only thing left to do is…..Move!
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