Tips for marketing an orthopedic practice in 2019

Written by Jackie Drees | December 19, 2018 | Print  |

Technology has driven rapid change across almost every industry, and healthcare is no exception. Online search engines have cast a wide net of accessibility to information, and consumers have been conditioned to expect instant gratification. Because of this, marketing has become essential for providers, helping organizations like orthopedic practices generate more recognition and bring in more clients.

With smartphones, we now hold access to a plethora of information right in our pockets. Mobile traffic and searches now outweigh traffic from desktop computers, and our phones make it possible to access the Internet at any time, in any place. In a Dec. 6 webinar hosted by Becker's Hospital Review and sponsored by Scorpion Healthcare, Jono Scott, regional sales director at Scorpion, shared insights on how orthopedic practices can boost online presence to help develop and establish connections with future patients.

Making an impression and developing a connection

While establishing an online presence and making information about an orthopedic practice readily available is important, marketing, first and foremost, is about making a connection.

"[Marketing is] about making your patients feel comfortable about you, your practice and what you provide so they pick up the phone and schedule an appointment," Mr. Scott said. "When people are shopping around for healthcare, they are in a very volatile state. It's not like going online and shopping for an iPad or a MacBook. That's fun. Shopping for healthcare is not fun."

Mr. Scott shared the experience of his friend and colleague Brian Davis, senior vice president Scorpion Healthcare, who connected with Dallas-based Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children while he was in a vulnerable state.

In February 2017, Mr. Davis' wife gave birth to their daughter, Perry. Immediately after her delivery, Mr. Davis and his wife found themselves in a stressful situation. Perry was born with bilateral clubfoot, a condition Mr. Davis knew nothing about. When Mr. Davis noticed Perry's legs appeared slightly abnormal, the physician and nurses in the room swiftly took Perry away for further evaluation.

The nurse told Mr. Davis not to worry; it was "just" bilateral clubfoot, she said as she followed the physician and Perry out of the room. Alone and without any medical staff to answer his questions, Mr. Davis immediately turned to his phone. He typed three words into the search engine, "clubfoot," "help" and "Dallas."

Mr. Davis then found Scottish Rite, which popped up on the list of search engine results. He clicked the hospital's ad and came across a landing page that delivered answers to his questions, along with a video called Wyatt's Story, which detailed a baby who had a very similar situation to Perry. After fast forwarding through the video, Mr. Davis saw Wyatt was able to walk after treatment.

After leaving the hospital where Perry was born, Mr. Davis called Scottish Rite and established care for his baby there.

"Scottish Rite was there for [Mr. Davis] during his time of need," Mr. Scott said. "When the physicians [at the hospital Perry was born in] were too busy to answer his questions, Scottish Rite did. They answered his questions on a cellphone, in the competition's operating room."

When developing content, remember the patient is the hero

In Mr. Davis' case, Scottish Rite was able to establish a connection with him through content on the hospital's website. In addition to providing content and answers to questions specific to bilateral clubfoot on its page, the hospital used video to further connect with Mr. Davis and other potential patients.

The Wyatt's Story video both highlighted the hospital's services while incorporating patient testimony. By featuring this type of content, healthcare practices can showcase what makes their organizations great without being the ones to directly say it, because hearing success stories from the source itself can sometimes be hard to trust, Mr. Scott said.

"2019 is going to be the year of video," he said. "Get some of your patients in front of the camera. Let them tell the story of how good you are and their experience at your organization and push them out to the marketplace. It's going to allow you to connect through content."

While website content is extremely valuable, Mr. Scott said it's also important not to create content just for the sake of creating it. The information should be specific to the patient's needs and focused on their experience.

"The messages that you put out there in the marketplace should never be about you," Mr. Scott said. "You are not the hero. Your patients are the heroes. They are the ones taking the steps to seek help, the ones willing to pick up the phone, the ones willing to turn their lives around."

Once you have established content focused with the patient at the center, you can more clearly design a plan to achieve marketing goals, Mr. Scott said.

Building a playbook to win the game

Defining business goals will help an organization develop a plan of action to achieve practice expectations. To do this, leaders must ask questions — take some time, interview key stakeholders and figure out what the organization is trying to do.

"Sit down and understand how many new patients you need to bring in from your marketing endeavors," Mr. Scott said. "How many new patients does a potential [physician] need to have to be busy around the clock? Ask these questions. Are there certain procedures that make [your practice] money? Are there certain procedures that you don't make money on?"

Understanding the answers to these questions will help organizations put plans in place to get new patients in the door.

Measure and adjust business goals

After a new marketing campaign is launched, organizations should use data to track and evaluate its progress. It is important to analyze the data to see if potential patients are engaging with the content disseminated across multiple channels, including social media, the organization's website and ads.

"You should know how many people visit your website, how many picked up the phone, how many came in for a consultation and how many of those consultations came in for a new surgery," Mr. Scott said. "If you know that, then you can optimize your entire campaign based off what's working and what's not. If you're optimizing based on website clicks and visits, how do you know, without picking up the phone, that they're actually becoming new patients?"

By measuring potential patient engagement, leaders can tweak areas of the marketing campaign that might not be as effective. Tracking this progress is vital to attaining business goals.

To listen to the webinar, click here.

More articles on orthopedics:
VR & surgical education — 2 Qs with Dr. Justin Barad
Drs. Jonathan Schoenecker, Thomas Dempsey & more: 15 orthopedic surgeons making headlines
Orthopedic surgeon to know: Dr. William Bragg of Mercy Medical Group

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