Use a Full Media Mix to Build Patient Volume

February 26, 2010

There is a something you can do that will revolutionize your ability to drive volume into the hospital: learn how to effectively put together a full media mix.

In 1993 the seminal work Integrated Marketing Communications- Putting It All Together & Making It Work by Shultz, Tannenbaum and Lauterborn, rocked the way marketers were thinking about how to communicate with their targets. Their basic premise was that mass media by itself no longer works. They concluded that a large variety of contacts with the target, activation points, were needed to help build a strong brand reputation and sales growth.

Even though this was a landmark work by any definition, reportedly the authors were somewhat surprised that the book never fully revolutionized corporate marketing the way they had hoped. Why? Because in 1993 there were not enough activation points. Now there are countless and they are proliferating like ants at a picnic.

What are some of the activation points you should consider?

Along with all the traditional media you have used for years you have to build intimacy and dialog with consumers using new media.

There are now over 400 million Facebook users, Twitter is growing by over 7 million users a month, consumers’ trust in the recommendations of friends and neighbors is growing thanks to social media networks and custom niche social networks like Ning.

Almost 70% of consumers go to the internet about an elective procedure before they talk to a medical professional. One of the most important things you can do is to use spider analytics to monitor all blogs and social media for mentions of your doctors- an essential discipline I call Reputation Management.

I believe your job as a hospital marketer just got easier and harder at the same time. Easier because there are so many new ways for you to develop real relationship with consumers choosing a provider. Harder because everything is changing at lightening speed and you have no choice but to keep up.



Billboard Advertising Will Not Help Build Service Line Patient Volume

January 27, 2010

The two most important words on a billboard: Next Exit

There is no case study anywhere that concludes that an outdoor campaign drove patients to a hospital or physician practice. And, believe me, I have looked at hundreds of hospital campaigns.

Outdoor advertising has it’s place- mostly as a directional resource. But it is an expensive and ineffective place to tell a brand story. There is a better way using of hundreds of other media alternatives.

I get it: Doctors want to drive down the road and see themselves on a billboard. Outdoor may be worth it to keep your doctors happy, but it is not driving business.

A complete media mix that will drive actual patient volumes includes some traditional advertising, but also huge doses of screening events and seminars, social media, online reputation management, laser-targeted mailings that drive specific DRG’s, blogging and online videos by key physicians, publicity events and community events, and more.

There is no easy way to increase patient volume by just buying billboards. It takes a well conceived strategy and full media mix of surprising tactics.

The Good News is that this type of alternative media innovation will gain the hospital and physicians much more exposure for much less money.


Choose Your DRGs Wisely to Increase Patient Volume

October 27, 2009

How to turn $2 million into $40 million. It’s a matter of choosing your DRGs wisely.

A hospital CEO once challenged us: “So what if you get me an extra $100 million in business? It only contributes about $2 million more to the bottom line.” We responded by demonstrating how, by carefully targeting the DRGs in which that $100 million comes into the hospital, $2 million could become more like $40 million.

In the 1980s, Boston Consulting Group made famous a series of matrixes, which included the Growth-Share Matrix. Borrowing liberally from their model, we can see which DRGs to promote and how to promote them using the Capacity-Profitability Matrix.

On the x-axis, graph your capacity to admit more patients. On the y-axis, chart the profitably of a DRG.


Highly profitable DRGs that have ample staff and facilities to accommodate growth are called Superstars. These are aggressively promoted using the full array of marketing tools – such as broadcast, interactive, highly targeted mail/direct response, physician referral programs, screenings and events.

Cash Cows

Highly profitable DRGs that have limited staff and facility are called Cash Cows. These are supported by moderate marketing efforts such as physician referral programs, some targeted screenings/events and highly targeted mail/direct response.

Chronic Patients

Low profitability DRGs that have an abundance of resources are called Chronic Patients. With operational changes, you can transfer some resources from here into the Cash Cows and Superstars. It’s a delicate balance, but with a little strategic effort, you can give a boost to your profitable DRGs without sacrificing patient care.

The low-profitability, low-capacity service lines are called DOA. Don’t waste any of your limited energy and resources here.

Marketing programs can and should always be extremely targeted. There is no case study in the country that can show a significant change in market share because of a health system branding campaign. All communications need to be highly focused and pragmatic in their approach.

Next time a CEO or CFO asks what they get from their marketing investment, tell them it depends where they invest. With a little applied logic, a 2% contribution can change to a 40% contribution—and marketing can change from an overhead expense to a revenue generator that shows measurable ROI.