Understanding Bloggers Will Increase Your Patient Volume

April 29, 2010

Bloggers have become an extremely influential source of information dissemination. Developing a relationship with bloggers will increase engagements with your brand translating to increased patient volume.

I recently attended a presentation from Rob Müller of Roche Diagnostics about “Lessons from a Blogger Summit.” A summary of Rob’s information is below.

A blogger starts writing because they feel passionately or have a strong interest in a specific target. This means they have a vested interest in what they are choosing to write about. Bloggers’ readers are a direct link to your customers. Your customers are selecting what bloggers are credible and who are not.

Most importantly, bloggers are here to stay. This is not a passing fad. Definitely the role of social media and bloggers will evolve, but it will not go away. Tapping into this influential group increases engagements with your brand translating into more volume.

To engage with a blogger to increase your volume, it is important to understand what bloggers are and are not.

Bloggers are not:

  • Professional journalists
  • Accountable (except to their readership)
  • Physicians or healthcare professionals
  • In it for the $$$$
  • “Off the record”…Ever
  • Billboards or any other advertising
  • Easily swayed
  • On your side (and this is a good thing)
  • Going Away

Bloggers are:

  • Extremely involved
  • Passionate
  • Conversant they know their stuff
  • Crusaders
  • Caregivers
  • Community Organizers
  • Opinionated/skeptical
  • Insular difficult for them to see the big picture
  • Everywhere

Develop a plan to develop relationships with influential bloggers the same way you would with traditional journalists. Look at it this way. They are already talking about you. Would you like to be talking to them!



Can Product Placement Build Patient Volumes?

April 8, 2010

The season ending Grey’s Anatomy slipped in two mentions of the Cleveland Clinic and once mentioned a doctor by name… did that turn into business at the hospital? The answer is a definite maybe.

Because you can’t measure it, product placement is still relatively cheap. I investigated that same Grey’s Anatomy opportunity for a large academic medical center client and they were only asking $15,000 at the time.

Here’s what we know: for younger audiences :30 second TV spots are over… newspapers are over… magazine ads are mostly overand the two most important words on a billboard are “next exit”. So what is left?

Product placement is one of the beneficiaries of a shift in media dollars (along with digital). Even music videos are now packed with dozens of product placements. But what has worked to get a message teens and twenty-somethings will not be effective in the older healthcare demographic target group.

Who is our demographic group: generally speaking (of course excluding OB maternity and pediatric messages) our targets are 50+ and still not downloading and TiVo’ing everything. They still watch the commercials on TV, read the paper, and subscribe to the same magazines.

Product Placement may still be a good idea in some cases:

  • If you are trying to build a regional or national reputation for a clinical program
  • Whatever you do, it only works when you leverage it with tons of PR to mention the placement and make a big deal out of it.
  • Usually your best bet is still the local news- your docs should be the local subject matter experts (do you have an infectious disease doc or a doc that could “play one on TV”? News people always need those interviews)

Product placement is probably not your best option for messaging, but you need to be aware of the possibilities as they continue to evolve.



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.


A Quick Tip to Build Your Reputation & Drive Your Patient Volumes

February 15, 2010

An example of the kind of articles YOUR doctors should be writing about but don’t.

Nearly 2,400 Americans die of CVD (Cardiovascular Disease) each day, an average of one death every 36 seconds.

This stat was included in an article written for a magazine targeted to entrepreneur and business owners who have high stress and based on the article and the stats – some of these people are at risk for heart disease.

The author of the article, “Go Red! The Stress-Healthy Heart Connection,” Carol Scott M.D.,  increases her reputation by being where her potential target is already seeking other information.

A couple of quick tips regarding blogging and articles written by YOUR doctors:

  • Make sure you know the audience – is it patients with some knowledge, other doctors or medical professionals, or a at risk community that may not be aware.
  • Make sure the audience has a call to action or some kind of take away.
  • Get the hospital system name in it.    Dr X currently practices at X hospital system.


Leverage Primary Stroke Center Certification to Increase Neurology Business

February 1, 2010

You can drive profitable Neurology business by simply leveraging the benefits of primary stroke center certification and mailing it to every employer and every consumer over 50 years old, within a radius of 75% of the distance to the nearest other Primary Stroke Center.

How do you let them know?

  • Create a one-page one-sided flier on the benefits of Primary Stroke Center Certification, point out the need to identify a stroke within the first 180 minutes.
  • Distribute the flyer to every employer and seniors and community center within a 75% of the distance of the nearest other Primary Stroke Center facility
  • Along with the flier, enclose a magnet with the big headline “Stroke: you only have 180 minutes or less. Act Now!” with the symptoms of stroke, the benefits of Primary Stroke Certification  and locations of your Emergency Departments
  • Pitch the broadcast and print media with engaging stories/examples of how disaster was averted by quickly getting the patient to a Primary Stroke Center- make survivors available for interview
  • The media particularly likes telemedicine stories about someone that was saved electronically by quick remote diagnosis and tPA dosage at one of your affiliated facilities
  • Do a custom URL (www.yourhospital/stroke) that outlines quick accessible information about symptoms and next steps
  • Make symptom and next step information mobile friendly. Then have your Health Promotions team teach how to access a stroke information website from a mobile phone. Seniors love these types of learning opportunities.


Build Patient Volumes By Understanding Patient Portals

November 6, 2009

Being useful to patients and doctors is the only way to drive measurable business. One useful tool you must understand is patient portals.

Patients can log on to their personal “portal” – a dashboard – to access and share their medical records, deal with insurance companies, review any results (like lab work or imaging), renew prescriptions, communicate with the physician’s office staff and even the physician.

There are many such portals, some of which will customize programs for a practice or hospital. Two of the heavyweights in the category are Google Health and Microsoft Health Vault.

These types of empowering tools are coming whether or not the medical community wants them.

And we in the medical community should want this evolution in our systems. Why? Because anything that inspires patients to take a more proactive responsibility for their health and wellness will reduce costs, eliminate some of the inefficiencies, and reduce medical errors.

You may be thinking, “Yeah right. How am I going to get my health system more involved in portals?

You don’t have to start with a full program. You can start by teaching the current situation to your marketing team and executive team. Ask everyone to think about how this could benefit the health system and physician practices. You will be surprised at the answers you may receive.

I have seen some innovative and low-cost interaction ideas with portals. For instance, you can now upload your medical records and films directly from a portal to the Cleveland Clinic website for a second opinion. I’m sure that second opinions from website leads have increased procedure business for the clinic.

The second step is to start to educate your community with PR and open seminars. You will build relationships and eventually business at very little cost.

Understanding portals is an opportunity for marketing to lead the health system into the future. Do not miss your chance to lead and be relevant!