Increase Patient Volume By Attracting ‘Medical Tourists’

By Medical Tourists we are not talking about going to India to get a coronary bypass… we are talking about attracting patients from outside your immediate local area. Why? Because those are usually the patients, payers and procedures you want.

I recently was told that Cleveland Clinic gets over 40% of their patients from outside of Cleveland. The percentage of “tourists” traveling to Mayo in Rochester is even higher.

You are not one of those marquee-named clinics, so what can you do?

I recently had a CFO at a Midwestern medical center tell me that they raised the percentage of out-of-town patients from 7% to 12%. While they only derived about 12% of their business from outside the locality, it accounted for over 30% of all profits.

So how do you raise your percentage of out-of-town patients?

  • A full digital strategy – SEO/SEM programs, have information easy to access on-line, make everything user-friendly
  • Have doctors call by phone (or Skype) those who inquired about treatment options. A brain tumor patient told me that a Duke Neurosurgeon called her to discuss her case. She traveled to Duke for surgery.
  • Make uploading patient films to your website super easy
  • Social media strategy – get found in a natural search, but also develop a relationship with sub-categories of patient communities
  • Have your specialists do grand rounds and continuing medical education events to teach referring physicians about what they do and develop relationships.
  • Sponsor specific messages. For intance University of Michigan bought announcements about “skin cancer breakthroughs” on National Public Radio that drove patients and referring physicians to next steps on their website

Your job as a hospital marketer is to drive high-incidence high-volume clinic intake. One way to do that is to make sure you are getting your share of profitable out-of-town business.

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