Understand Access Points Into the Hospital to Build Patient Volume

90% of patients came from physician referral in 1999. Today, it's far less.

Hospital marketers seem to think that if they do a great job with branding… Or if they have great advertising… or if they are a well-known and respected community partner patients will somehow get into the system. Frankly, that is crazy.

One of the key questions you must ask before you do any hospital marketing is how will this drive a patient to one of the access points into the system?

So what are the access points into the hospital?

  • Most patients come from physician referral. But it is dropping- maybe 90% came from referral in 1999, but by some calculations, that number is now 50% or less in 2010. Those with strong physician liaison programs and comprehensive employer and on-site programs are winning this game compared to their competition.
  • Emergency Department/Trauma: here is where the General Surgery and Orthopedic volume benefit most… but all kinds of profitable procedures come through the ED. The key is to not let it become a Primary Care facility.

Our tendency is to lump the rest into “self-referral,” but that is way too general. What are the self-referral sub-categories?

  • Second Opinion Patients: When a person gets a catastrophic diagnosis, they and/or their family immediately go to the internet to find the latest protocols and leading doctors to treat the problem. Those that are experiencing pain or repetitive use injuries, diagnose and educate themselves online. Hospitals that have a comprehensive digital strategy to highlight capabilities win this patient.
  • The Pre-episode/Asymptomatic Patients: Maybe 5% of the adult population has a serious undiagnosed cardiovascular issue.  Maybe as much as 7% has an undiagnosed  cancer. Maybe 5% of adults over 55 could benefit from an an orthopedic procedure.  Hospitals that have a program to engage these patients win: Online Screenings, Early Detection events, Wellness information, and Informational Seminars. They key here is to provide easy opportunities to make appointments after each contact, and to provide a structure to evaluate co-risks. Did you know, for instance, that 30% of all CV patients need an orthopedic procedure? Or almost 100% of Bariatric patients will fail a Peripheral Vascular Disease screening?  Or that 10% of all cancer patients have cardiovascular disease- mostly undiagnosed? You have to look for co-risks.




6 Responses to Understand Access Points Into the Hospital to Build Patient Volume

  1. […] the dynamics of patient choice” Know your Access Points into the system! Check out for more […]

  2. Hello i am so delighted I discovered your blog, I actually discovered you by error, while I was searching Yahoo for something else, Anyways I am here now and would just like to say thanks for a great blog posting and a all round absorbing blog (I also love the theme/design), I do not have time to read it all at the right now but I have bookmarked it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more

  3. Hiya from Portugal! I have found your article on aol. Good content! Helen J. Schoolcraft x

  4. Great one, following your blogs from now on.

  5. John..hi.

    Nice blog. I have to admit that I am confused about what you are saying though in your latest post. Patients still can not admit themselves to a hospital. They need a physician to do that.

    So when you say that patients referrals to hospitals are falling to 50%, what are you referring to specifically? Inpatient admissions, inpatient and out patient admissions?

    Could you share a citation for this claim.


    • Steve-

      Thanks for reading! The post is discussing how physician referrals are decreasing and how the growing trend is for patients to find their own physicians instead of another physician selecting. Regarding a citation, The National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) estimated the percentage of physician referrals to be 49.5% for all secondary and tertiary appointments.

      Let me know if you would like to discuss further.

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