What Does Hulu, iPad, and Product Placement mean to Patient Volume?

April 20, 2010

Ability to reach consumers and doctors is full of new and expanding possibilities while some of the old media methods are diminishing.

Hulu, the two year old online video hub, is now profitable. Meaning, people are going there to download or stream TV shows and movie content.

The iPad is going to stream shows from ABC, NBC, and CBS. So lots of free commercial free TV will be available there.

Product Placement is a hot media that places brands within the story. Studios are more likely to greenlight a project with sponsors than with an A-list star.

The New York Times is reporting that 90%+ of their revenue comes from the printed editions. Unfortunately for them now 90%+ of their readership comes from online editions.

Why Do You Care About These Random Facts?

The old ways of driving volume with traditional media are becoming less effective and less cost-effective every minute.

And the speed of change in media is only increasing. By 2014, the majority of us will get our entertainment and news content on our mobile device.

Why You Don’t Care

Because our main target is 55+. These are the people who are likely to need our high-contribution high-incidence CV, Ortho, and Cancer procedures. Except for OB maternity business, our targets are the last remaining stronghold of old media. We generally can still reach our older targets with older media.

What Do You Do Next?

  1. Don’t panic and do anything crazy. Our targets are older, so we can move in a focused and deliberate way toward the future. But…
  2. Accept Reality. Accept the fact that change is here
  3. Team Drill: In 10 minutes, list how many ways we could get a message across if we could not use TV, Radio, Newspaper, Print, Email, Outdoor, or Banner Ads on Local Websites. How many new ways of communicating can you come up with in 5 minutes (You’ll be surprised)
  4. Social Media: find out whatever you can about how to execute meaningful dialogs with you targets




Build Patient Volume With A “Welcome Interruption”

March 17, 2010

The key to driving new measurable business: talk to the people who want to hear from you. Great segmentation leads to “welcome interruptions“.

Database management, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, research and product usage information is getting sooooooooo scary accurate that there is really no need to interrupt people who do not want to hear about whatever product or service you are selling.

Becoming More Like E-Harmony And Less Like An Advertiser

You know what E-Harmony is: it is not a hook-up website for daters. It is a place that matches people with common goals, common values, common expectations who are ready to make a commitment in a relationship.

Marketers can learn from E-Harmony. We should not be selling to everyone with money like some common ho. We should save tons of money, time and resources by doing careful segmenting to find those that are likely to have a real interest in what we are offering.

An Example From An Orthopedics Campaign

A CRM list was generated to send mail for a shoulder pain seminar. Only about 10 people showed up and the surgeon was disappointed. It was discovered that the list they used was generated for a knee pain seminar.

So what?!?

Segmentation is getting so good that those with likely knee pain are not exactly like those with likely shoulder pain. The list was rerun for shoulders… 50+ people attended this time with all other things being equal…but the segmented list.

Taking time to segment by specific procedure is critical to spending less per campaign for better results. Now when a patient sees your communications, it becomes a “Welcome Interruption” that will probably lead to a new patient.


Coordinate All Service Line Marketing To Increase Patient Volume

March 16, 2010

A common and destructive hospital marketing problem – which is very easily solved – is when every service line has autonomous marketing and budgeting.

At best, this means needless expense from uncoordinated media purchases. At worst, it means that the health system has a fragmented brand reputation that inhibits driving patient volumes.

A real life example:

I recently met with a $2 billion+ dozen-hospital system. They were very proud of their creative and beautiful marketing campaigns all running at the same time:

  1. their OB/maternity program had a pink-and-blue-cute-fat-baby campaign
  2. the heart program had a valentine red heart campaign featuring doctors and great outcomes
  3. a sports medicine program used colorful inspirational scenes of athletes in action
  4. their cancer center featured a documentary style doctors-doing-research-to-cure-cancer motif

All these campaigns are good individually, but together their marketing is a hot mess. They don’t realize they are just confusing people.

How could they fix this quickly?

1st: The system brand promise, visual identity and tone should be the same for each campaign.

This increases consumer message retention, and most importantly, every service line communication also builds every other service line. For example, during a CV campaign it is common that patient volume also increases in cancer and ortho simultaneously – and vice versa.

2nd: A marketing calendar and coordinated media plan should be instituted.

This eliminates competing messages in the market place from within your own organization and clarifies the brand messages in physicians’ and consumers’ minds. It also minimizes media expenses.

These changes are relatively easy to make compared to some of your bigger challenges in hospital marketing, but these changes will have an immediate and profitable effect.


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 Fastest Way To Increase Patient Volumes- Capitalize On The Co-Risks

March 11, 2010

Marketing to your existing patients is not only the fastest to increase patient volumes, but also the cheapest way. And Bonus: It is the kindest thing you can do to serve your patients.

We all have enough statistics to know that our patients are very likely to have one or more co-morbidity.

Recently we got a peek at a proprietary normative database. “Normative” means it is set up as a benchmark of what is “normal” statistically speaking.

There were some surprising learnings in there. Here are a small amount of practical examples:

  • Did you know that anyone that fails a simple CV risk assessment, whether or not they have an actual CV problem, have a 30% chance of needing an orthopedic procedure? Or a 10% chance of having cancer?
  • If they fail a cancer exam, the numbers are flipped: and 30% chance of a CV problem and 10% chance of a ortho problem
  • If they are a bariatric patient, they will fail a PVD screening 99% of the time and have over 30% chance of needing a joint replacement
  • If your hospital is like everyone else’s, then over 60% of your inpatients have a primary or secondary diagnose of diabetes. The list of likely co-morbidity issues is huge with diabetes- but those patients are rarely cross screened while being treated.

It is worth the hassle to ask your medical staff to allow patient cross-screenings for a co-morbidity. It is the right thing to do for the health of the patient and the right thing to do for the financial health of the hospital.


Understand Access Points Into the Hospital to Build Patient Volume

February 22, 2010

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.



Hospital Volume Building Marketing Strategy – The 3M’s

February 8, 2010

Here is a great short hand way to make sure you have thought through a great marketing strategy to build service line volume: The 3M’s. Market-Target, Motivating Message, and Movement. (I know we are kinda cheating by making “market-target” one word and Motivating Message count as one M… but this is still helpful information so keep reading anyway.)

Market-Target: First determine the size or the market and the current trends. Then determine the target (person) in the market that is most likely to value what you do.

You need to know if the market is big enough to pay you back for your effort and expense and if there are enough people who will truly value what you are trying to sell. Don’t be general, be specific to the service within the specific service line. For example, an orthopedic shoulder surgery market-target is very different from a joint replacement market-target.

Motivating Message: Craft a message that the target will be surprised and delighted to hear. If you can find that message then the next step is much easier.

Movement: Be very specific about a next step or action you want your target to take. Maybe it is to call a phone number, or visit an event, or website, or go to a retail partner to pick up more information or whatever tactic you are using. Just be very specific. This is how you measure the success of the campaign.

The 3Ms (or maybe more accurately named The 4Ms and a T) are a simple way to make sure you have done thorough thinking about your strategy.