Do CT Heart Scans Build Clincal Volume? Yes!

April 9, 2010

A self-paid $99 CT heart scan should break even on imaging, but can drive millions of dollars of CV business into the system.

As a marketer, I love CT heart scans. They are a fabulous call-to-action for your advertising. I have seen many health systems do a fantastic job promoting these in primary care offices and to consumers.

Why isn’t everyone doing it?

I had a head of cardiology at an academic medical center kill the idea because the American College of Cardiology is ambivalent in their endorsement of CT scans- or non-endorsement of scans is more like it. CT scans have radiation, of course. And they will miss many types of heart disease while possibly showing a clean score on calcium.

But nobody is saying not to get one, they are simply warning that the test is an incomplete heart evaluation on its own.

After the above academic doc killed the idea, a local hospital system picked up the idea and ran with it. The competitor’s increase in equivalent procedures went through the roof- as did their marketshare. I wish my client had put their hesitations aside and at least played defense by promoting the heart scan.

If the calcium score reads anything but zero, insurance pays from then on. It is the green light to great paying patient. And most people in their 50’s or older fail to score a zero.

I am an enthusiastic supporter of using a CT heart scan as your advertising call-to-action. Not only for all the reasons above, but also as a defense to keep a competitor from taking the business from you.



Get FIT to Build G.I. Patient Volumes

April 2, 2010

You can quickly and profitably build gastrointestinal patient volumes by targeting those who need a Fecal Immunochemical Test (F.I.T.)

By mailing out the easily self-administered fecal occult blood test – better known as a F.I.T. kit – to a targeted list you will drive a predictable volume of patients.

BTW- Who needs a F.I.T. kit? Just about everyone over 50 years old, but the target can get even sharper than that if you want.

A Real Life Case Study

A mid-market hospital sent out 10,000 kits to a targeted list:

6% were returned… or 600 kits were sent back to the lab for testing

60% of those 600: 360 returned were positive for cancer

90% of those 360: 324 chose to take the next step with the hospital (colonoscopy, other lab work, other images)

20% of the 324: 65 patients needed ongoing medical care like surgeries, imaging, medical oncology, radiation oncology, inpatient care, etc.

Here Is The Business Case You Must Understand: The whole program cashflowed from Day One

The return envelope included a pre-signed doctor’s order for lab work – which makes everything reimbursable from the very beginning of the program.

The total bottom line Contribution Margin for mail sent to 10,000 households was in the tens of millions by the end of year two. Not at bad investment for 10,000 pieces of mail.


4 Ways That CRM Can Increase Patient Volume

March 24, 2010

In today’s economy, you need a cost effective way to build patient volume.

Healthcare organizations can efficiently reach current and prospective patients through a CRM solution, also known as ‘customer relationship management’ software. If you don’t have CRM, it’s time to get one; and if your hospital is already using CRM, you need to ensure you’re leveraging it to increase patient volume.

Tell me this: has your CRM software helped you to achieve the following…

– Improved patient communication?
– Increased revenue?
– Narrower targets?
– Focused your spending?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of the above, it’s time to consider the four ways a CRM investment should be working to building patient volume:

1. Improved communication: CRM resonates with healthcare consumers to improve communication, allowing you to acquire and preserve patient relationships. Better communication is a result of the personalization that CRM allows, helping you to build patient loyalty and to convey value.

2. Increased revenue: Healthcare organizations should increase revenue through CRM because of its ability to align marketing spend with tactical objectives. Meticulous campaign analysis measures ROI carefully, allowing you to make adjustments and reposition your hospital to build revenue.

3. Narrowed targets: Through segmentation, the data generated from CRM should help you to drive the right payer to the right service line. Rather than communicate to the masses, you should be able to effectively capitalize on targeting a highly-selective audience.

4. Focused spending: Properly used CRM will focus your marketing spend on the people that are at greatest risk, or in need of a specific service that your healthcare system offers. Thus, your spending should become more precise as you interpret trends and positions through data.

If your CRM isn’t building patient volume, it’s time to reevaluate your strategy. While a CRM system is a major investment, you should be seeing a substantial return on investment when used correctly.


Evidence-Based Marketing: The Key to Volume Building

March 22, 2010

There is much talk in clinical healthcare about Evidence-Based Decision Making- but the key to marketing success and job security in the marketing department is Evidenced-Based Marketing.

What’s hot for clinicians should be even hotter for marketing departments.

How do you make evidenced-based decisions in marketing?

  • clearly define the objectives before you design a campaign
  • engage finance, decision support, or whomever is the keeper of admissions data and financial data. This collaboration is key to getting great metric information
  • everyone in finance and marketing must clearly agree on what data will be gathered and how it will be evaluated (you must know what you are shooting at to hit the target)
  • set expectations that all information will be used to Review & Revise marketing plans- not that you are expecting everything you do to be perfect. This information is used for Continuous Process Improvement

Get started working to build a collaborative marketing evidence gathering system and you will reap the rewards of continually improving marketing. This is good for the financial sustainability of the health system and the job security of hospital marketers.



Become the “Patient Distribution Czar” to Increase Patient Volumes

March 15, 2010

Sort the patients that come into the health system through advertising and communications to quickly increase your clinical volumes and build great relationships with physicians. We humbly call this being “The Patient Distribution Czar“.

Let me give you a real-life example from a cardiovascular marketing program:

A campaign drove thousands of patients into risk assessments- both at events and online. Of a typical 1000 patients, because they targeted correctly, about 400 failed a CV screening. Of those 400, about 200 opted-in and asked to see a cardiologist.

Wow! Successful campaign, right? Then why were the CV doctors so angry? Because their office staff became overwhelmed with appointment requests- and most of those patients did not need to see a cardiologist.

Oooops. What did we learn?

First we learned that cardiologists are upset when you clog up their appointments with someone who should have seen a Primary Care doc. They are even more upset when the leg pain that caused the failure in a CV screening turns out to be an orthopedic problem.

There is a way to make everyone in the whole system happy and raise the perceived value of the marketing department. You must distribute the patients.

Step One:

When a patient fails an online screening, a nurse should call them back immediately (stats show the lead is cold in 72 hours). The nurse should walk through their screening answers with them- make sure they understood and put in the correct numbers.

If indeed this is still a high-risk patient then…

Step Two:

Set up a face-to-face meeting with a Nurse Practitioner or an RN for a cursory exam. That nurse should determine if a cardiology consult is needed- or if very severe symptoms exist, an immediate ER visit. Also maybe that leg pain is a ortho problem and a consult with an orthopedic surgeon is the right next appointment.

Everybody in the health system is now happy. You are building PC practices, CV practices, and other specialties as needed. Now the money spent to find patients is paying off by plugging patients into the system efficiently for your physicians while truly improving patient health.


The Hidden Benefit to Building Patient Volume: Downstream Revenue

March 10, 2010

Your successful efforts to build patient volume have a big hidden upside: Downstream Revenue. This later revenue will likely far exceed the amount of money you drove in by the initial marketing campaign.

For Example #1:

A program in a medium-sized market Academic Medical Center to increase mammograms drove in a marginal 1000+ mammograms per month for nine straight months. This was considered a fantastic success. The bottom line (minus all costs and marketing expenses) Contribution Margin from imaging, lab work, and biopsy surgeries was $2.7 million.

There was measurable Return on Investment (ROI). Everyone was thrilled.

But over the next year came more money from inpatient surgery, outpatient medical oncology, radiation oncology, and more imaging. The additional bottom line money a year after that nine month campaign was over $12 million. That is in addition to the initial $2.7 bottom line Contribution Margin in Year One.

For Example #2:

Another unexpected driver of business we have seen is Cardiovascular campaigns. We can’t fully explain it (although we have some answers and some theories), like cause and effect when a hospital runs a successful CV campaign, other procedures go up during the campaign period.

Some of this gain in business is obvious from the cross screening for other risks when a patient comes to a screening event. But like I said above, some I can’t completely explain. But as sure as summer follows spring it happens every time.

We recently saw a CV campaign that drove over $12 million additional Contribution Margin into the system. But the “unexplained” increase in business was over $40 million in net bottom line Contribution Margin.

The real interesting thing about CV campaigns is that when you find a high-risk patient, they eventually turn into a surgery patient. CV campaigns keep paying off for years to come.

You are doing great work as a health system marketer. You can drive business with measurable ROI. But what you may not have noticed is the additional downstream revenue you have been driving into the system.


What the Effie Awards Can Teach Us About Building Patient Volumes

March 4, 2010

Your marketing and communications can have effective and measurable results. I know it is true, I have seen hundreds of examples as a judge at the Effie Awards.

The Effie Awards, arguably the most prestigious and coveted awards in all of marketing because they are awarded for effectiveness (defined as verifiable and measurable results).

I have been hugely honored to be asked to be on the judging panel. Unfortunately most all the entries are from consumer brands including the makers of beer, fast food restaurant chains, soft drinks, snack food manufacturers, etc. What if we in the healthcare world became as effective at selling healthy alternatives?

To win a coveted Effie you must be able to do four things:

#1 Define Your Market Challenges

Understanding your exact situation is the key to solving your problems. You have to think about and define your challenges.

#2 In One Sentence, State Your Big Idea

If you can’t say it in one sentence, the Big Idea does not exist. By “Big Idea”, I mean your breakthrough strategy. Where are you going to play and how are you going to win?

#3 Cleverly Design How Your Big Idea Will Come To Life

There are two elements to this. First, you must determine what your campaign look and feel like- meaning make it engage and delight your target audience (Important to note here: engage and delight your target– not yourself or your management- your target). Secondly, you need to find a surprising and effective media mix.

#4 Outline Your Metrics And Intended Results

I always say, “What is measured grows… what is measured and reported grows exponentially.”  If you haven’t set up how you will measure and report, your marketing in doomed from the beginning.

I am inspired by the great and effective work I have seen as a judge at the Effie Awards. My hope is that someday healthcare providers will be winning awards here, not just those great at selling junk food.