A Game Plan for Patient Acquisition: Tips for Health care Marketers
New Patient Acquisition in the Modern Healthcare Marketing Landscape
It’s not news when I say that what’s going on in the healthcare marketplace is game changing. As the landscape moves from volume to value, we’re witnessing a fundamental shift from the treatment of chronic and catastrophic illnesses to long-term wellness and prevention. Plus, with the influx of new consumers as a result of the Affordable Care Act, healthcare marketers are confronted with the challenge (and opportunity) of acquiring new patients. This is why having a solid game plan for connecting more patients with physicians has never been more crucial.
Think about how the industry has evolved: Health information has essentially become a commodity. Patients are increasingly relying on the web for medical info and guiding their own health and wellness, which in effect is narrowing the information gap between physicians and patients.
A 2011 study by Harris Interactive reveals that three quarters (74%) of all adults have gone online at some time to look for health information, and that 60% have done so in the previous month. “Cyberchondriacs” (what Harris calls people who go online for healthcare information) who say that they believe the information they obtained was reliable has risen to 90% this year from 87% and 85% in the two previous years.
A New Playing Field for Healthcare Marketers
While the physician/patient relationship is still critical, it’s a highly competitive environment. Today, in order to stay competitive, marketers are forced to be more adept at differentiating the physicians in their network from the competition. Marketers must be more proactive, more sales oriented about promoting the unique value of their physicians. Physicians themselves need to take heed of this too for their own success. Ultimately, it means new challenges for physicians, health care administrators and healthcare marketers alike.
Challenges for health care administrators
One of the challenges for hospitals and health care systems is how to link physicians as a revenue stream. But, each is different – some own their physician practices, some don’t.
Hypothetically, let’s use a local children’s hospital as an example. Let’s say their competition is a big city children’s hospital. In this case, the local hospital’s marketing challenge is about making the hospital and doctors relevant to their target market and eliminating the mindset that patients need to go to the city to receive the best care.
In addition, there’s the challenge of acquiring more patients in a market that is always changing. At any given time 15% of the market is moving in or out of the area. This is where true opportunity lies.
A new player coming off the bench
As part of the healthcare evolution, there’s a new role emerging in hospitals and healthcare organizations: the physician liaison.
The role of the physician liaison is to serve as a personal contact for physicians and their practice managers and staff. They bridge positive and open relationships with physicians—which, by the way is a huge undertaking. Some hospitals do it on a service-line basis. For example, the hospital may have a service-line manager specifically for maternity. Their mission is to build a campaign to connect physicians, their staff and other members of the area’s healthcare community with the hospitals maternity services and resources.
Overall, the physician liaison’s objective is to make partnering with the hospital as productive as possible for the healthcare providers and as beneficial as possible for prospective patients.
Playing To Win In the Patient Acquisition Game
Your marketing playbook: new strategies for healthcare marketers
In today’s healthcare marketplace the stakes are higher than ever. So, in order to be at the top of your game, you need a play-by-play strategy that focuses on outreach and acquiring more patients. Strategies for healthcare marketers should include building relationships with new residents in their area as well as these “newer players” – the physician liaisons. The primary objective is to connect a patient with a physician based on the idea that, once they choose a physician, patients tend to say with that provider; and the hospital gets the downstream revenue.
Traditional approaches to acquiring new patients
There are many effective options for promoting your services to prospective patients, including:
- Direct Marketing
- Social Media
- Public Relations
- Online Events
- On-site Health Fair/Open House Events
- Community events
Let’s explore two of these: Online Events and On-site Health Fairs.
AMA: Short for “Ask Me Anything” these online events are a way for your staff to connect with patients via social media. Whether your network specializes in oncology, bariatric or anything in between, this will give you the chance to educate the community while advertising your expertise.
Hospitals have always been a fixture in their local communities. Opening your grounds and inviting everyone to experience what makes your hospital unique can reinforce the value of your network. Provide free health assessments like blood pressure, heart health and other screenings.
Keeping score: Identifying appropriate metrics to measure results
In the game of healthcare marketing, data analytics and the measurement of data are critical. Analyzing relevant attributes certainly increases your chances of success. For instance, you could sort data by location, family make-up, employment status or any other relevant attribute. The more info you have to go on, the better your chances of success.
Be a game-changer
At the end of the day, what separates your system or hospital from the competition can’t be summed up by anyone other than you and your fellow marketers. Whether its facilities, physicians, research, cutting-edge medicine, or simply a strong commitment to community, there is always something you can leverage in the patient acquisition conversation. The ways you choose to deliver that message are up to you too, but we hope this blog has given you some new tactics to think about and eventually implement. The healthcare industry is always changing, but a proactive and relationship building acquisition strategy can ensure that those changes aren’t such a challenge. Contact us to learn more.Back to Blog