3 Marketing Strategies for Spine Practices

Laura Dyrda -   Print  |
When Marion R. McMillan, MD, of Synergy Spine Center in Seneca, S.C., began performing endoscopic spine surgery, he wanted to make sure potential patients in the area knew about his new service. In order to reach the widest audience, Dr. McMillan tried different marketing techniques with long-term and short-term effects for increasing the number of patient visits. He discusses three strategies for marketing the new procedure at his practice.

1. Reach out to referring physicians.
If referring physicians in the area are aware that a surgery center is able to perform a certain type of procedure, such as endoscopic spine surgery, the physicians are likely to refer their patients to the ASC. Synergy Spine hired marketing and practice development staff members who call physicians and tell them about the practice's minimally invasive surgery capabilities. "It's been our experience that once a referring physician is aware that there is a surgeon who can perform endoscopic surgery, they will refer their patients," says Dr. McMillan.

This was the marketing technique Dr. McMillan found most effective because it directly connected his practice with one source who could reach many different patients.

2. Host public educational seminars.
Practices should host informative seminars for potential patients detailing the options beyond traditional open spinal surgery. As a portion of the seminar, the practice should offer MRI reviews for the attendees, assessing whether the patient would be a good candidate for the practice's services, says Dr. McMillan. Practices should advertise for such events through local newspapers and organizations with potential patients as members.

3. Television marketing. Conducting a television campaign to announce a new procedure or promote a practice can be initially effective, showing a quick increase in the number of interested patients. However, Dr. McMillan says after two or three months, the number of patients reached by the commercial reaches the maximum and then decreases. In general, marketing the practice through television commercials is not a long-term solution for attracting patients and can be expensive to continue.

4. Website accessibility. Dr. McMillan says practices should design websites that provide contact information as well as patient education about treatment options for orthopedic disorders and injuries. An accessible and professional-looking website can sometimes be a patient's first introduction to the practice. "It is my very strong opinion that when given accurate information, patients always make the correct choices," says Dr. McMillan. "Our primary focus is to be the correct choice for the patients we serve."

While he says websites can be very helpful in attracting patients to the practice, he is less convinced that social networking on the Internet can expand the patient base. "Social networking on the Internet is labor intensive to manage and, I believe, more suited to patient-patient interaction rather than information transfer from physician to patient."

Learn more about Synergy Spine Center.

Read other coverage about spine practice management:

- Challenges in Spine Practice Management: Q&A with Laser Spine Institute Executive Director Lester Morales

- 7 Best Practices to Improve Efficiency in Physician-Owned Orthopedic Practices

- Improving Reimbursement for Spine Surgeons: 6 Tips for Communicating with Coders

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