10 Marketing Strategies Orthopedic Practices Can Apply Now

Practice Management

Here are 10 marketing strategies orthopedic surgeons can apply within and outside of the practice.

Internal strategies

1. Run physician videos in the waiting room. Compile five minute video clips from all of the practice physicians discussing their subspecialty and the latest technology in their field. Spine surgeons can talk about minimally invasive procedures while knee surgeons might talk about new techniques for joint replacement. "If you're going to spend money on marketing, the most important place to do that, at first, is in the waiting room," says Peter Althausen, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Reno Orthopaedic Clinic and chairman of the board of directors of The Orthopaedic Implant Company. "If you market yourself as 'top in technology,' you want to show your patients that from the beginning. You also want to make sure your waiting room is clean, put together and modern."

2. Hang a plaque with physician certification in the waiting room. Patients who come to your practice for joint replacement might have a great experience, but they'll go elsewhere for their spine surgery or ankle care because they don't know physicians at your practice can treat those conditions. Hanging a plaque in the waiting room that includes each physician's certification is a relatively inexpensive way to communicate the diverse range of conditions practice physicians treat. Patients will also remember these conditions when their friends need orthopedic care. "The patient might come to the practice for their shoulder, but their friend might need a knee replacement and they'll remember to send them to your practice," says Dr. Althausen.

3. Tell patients they can recommend you to their friends. While orthopedic surgeons assume patients with a good experience will tell their friends, asking them to refer your services goes further to promote the ever-important word-of-mouth reputation. "You’re your patients that the best way to show they are happy with their care is to refer family and friends if they are seeking orthopedic services," says Karen Rocks, principle consultant and owner of Sparkfire Marketing. "Just hearing this from their physicians really enforces that idea."

4. Promote the website in the office. Practices should have information about the website available in the office waiting room and physicians should encourage their patients to explore the website after each visit. Driving patients to the website will increase the practice's exposure and give patients another way to interact with the practice. Patients who have a good experience with the practice's website are likely to remember it for the future. "You can't just build the website and have it work," says Ted Epstein, Director of Sales at Medical Web Experts. "You have to promote it in the office."

5. Host events for discounted preseason physicals. Michael Corcoran, MD, says his practice, OAK Orthopedics, takes part in an effort to provide preseason physicals to youth athletes in the community every year. The physicals included expertise from orthopedic surgeons, ophthalmologists, dentists and other medical processionals that examine the children and clear them for play. The physicals cost $20, which is affordable for people in the community. "We pumped about 500 kids through our office space during that event," says Dr. Corcoran.

The physical charge of $20 goes back to the athletic department of the athlete's school and is used on the athletes or athletic training supplies.

External strategies

6. Conduct seminars focusing on elective procedures. For elective orthopedic procedures, the consumer is in a position to decide when to push forward with care and where to receive their treatment. Seminars related to joint health and sports medicine can be highly successful in building relationships with new patients. These seminars can take place at local health clubs, gyms or community facilities where a single poster or mention in the organization's newsletter could attract several members who could be potential patients. "Once the patient comes to the seminar, they are more likely to proceed with care," says an Weinbach, executive vice president of The Weinbach Group, a healthcare marketing firm based in Miami, Fla. "For the patient, it's part of the educational process and a way to connect face-to-face with the surgeon." At the seminar, talk about all different types of surgical and non-surgical interventions to help the patients understand the potential treatment modalities available to them.

7. Volunteer at youth sporting events. When a sports medicine practice is affiliated with a high school athletic department or team, the practice should send a physician to stand on the sidelines at each game. Sideline physicians evaluate and treat game-day injuries for the athlete as well as advise the coaches as to whether an athlete should return to play after an injury. Standing on the sidelines also creates additional exposure for the physician because sporting events are attended by team parents and the greater community.

8. Send patient newsletters with human interest stories. Stay in touch with patients by sending practice newsletters. Include patient stories focusing on the relief of pain after treatment. If you want to include information about a new procedure or technology, find a way to relate it to the patients through a personal story. "Human interest is where you are going to gain more readers," says Ms. Rocks. The newsletter can be electronic, which saves paper and mailing expenses.

9. Create pages and applications on Facebook. If your practice is looking for ways to connect with current and potential customers to increase retention, word-of-mouth referrals and gain new patients, social media is an inexpensive, direct way to do so. However, the world of social media is new, vast and can be overwhelming, so it is crucial to develop a plan before embarking on social media outreach. Identifying your target audience, finding out what social media platforms they are using and strategically entering into their conversations through applications and advertising is the best approach. It’s also critical to budget time within your workweek to manage the content and allow the project several months to grow. Assign an office manager or hire an outside marketing agency to assist in the planning and implementation of social media strategy.

10. Keep a blog. Setting up a blog about healthcare can allow you to interact with patients and potential patients through the familiar ground of cyber space. You can make blog entries commenting on the big issues in orthopedics or use the space as a forum to provide general patient information, such as tips for youth athletes on injury prevention. On his blog, David Geier, Jr., MD, an orthopedic surgeon and director of sports medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, responds to patients' questions. Through a disclaimer, he clarifies that his response contains general information rather than a specific diagnoses or individualized treatment advice. Those who submit questions know ahead of time that Dr. Geier may feature them in future blog posts. He also encourages people to reach out to him via Twitter and e-mail, and shares the locations of his practice.

Related Articles for Orthopedic Practices:

5 Points on Developing a Concierge Sports Medicine Practice

5 Out-of-the-Box Strategies for Increasing Orthopedic Practice Profits

Baby Boomers Are Coming: 8 Solutions to Looming Challenges for Orthopedic Surgeons

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