Boost Surgery Center Volume on a Budget: 3 Recommendations From Administrator Angela Laux
1. Harness the power of social media. Social media is a broad platform that offers surgery centers a way to connect with a large pool of existing and potential patients. "Word-of-mouth is a powerful and inexpensive way to drive patient volume," says Ms. Laux. Social media is a low-cost way to introduce people to a surgery center and what it has to offer, but like any marketing initiative, it requires a targeted approach.
Social media is driven by content. Regularly providing high-quality and relevant information maximizes the potential social media has to offer. "We do bi-weekly blogs that are posted on our website, as well as our Facebook account. We cover a variety of topics that patients need to know about, are curious about or may be afraid to ask," says Ms. Laux. "We have found that our patients are sharing posts with all of their friends and family, which in turn directs them to your website and gets us exposure to new customers."
The goal of social media is to provide people with the opportunity to connect, and patients want an easy way to find surgery centers online. "We have included the 'like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter' icons on our discharge instructions to help promote patient connections with us," says Ms. Laux. Once patients connect with a surgery center online, maintain interaction. Active social media use is more likely to produce results.
2. Increase public awareness. Surgery centers are facing a number of challenges, many of which directly affect patient volume. "In the short term, I think the main threat to ASC volume is going to be the uncertainty of health insurance coverage. Generally people are confused about the exchange options that will be available to them in 2014," says Ms. Laux. "I think we will see a dip in volume as people navigate through the new system."
Ms. Laux is combating the sense of confusion and unease by increasing public awareness. "Our main focus is to educate the public on what exactly an ASC is and what ASCs can provide for each patient." In a time of concern over rising healthcare costs, ASCs are a high-quality, low-cost option. Ms. Laux will be hosting local politicians at the center to educate policymakers on these advantages and garner support for legislation positively affecting surgery centers.
Surgery center open houses are another way to connect with potential patients and raise general public awareness. Bellin Orthopedic Surgery Center will hold an open house on Oct. 19 and Ms. Laux explains that the center is doing everything it can to prepare. She is working with the local television and radio station to promote the event and one of the center's surgeons will appear on a live, local program to increase interest.
Ms. Laux and the center's leaders have even strategically planned the timing of the open house. "Our neighbor, Costco, is having their grand opening the same weekend as our open house. We are using that to our benefit as there will already be a high traffic volume around our facility." Opening the doors of a surgery center to the public is not costly, but with the enough effort it can attract a great deal of public attention.
During the open house, the surgery center will hold a raffle for tickets to see the local football team play. "With each entry into our raffle we will be capturing information new potential patients, so we can make contact with them and be on their mind in the event that they need orthopedic care." Not only does something as simple as a raffle open a line communication with patients, but also indicates that a facility is invested in its community.
3. Encourage existing physicians to bring more cases. Hospital dominance in the healthcare market has made physician recruitment for ASCs a large concern. Many ASCs are looking for ways to maintain and increase physician loyalty.
"It is always important to share with the physicians quality metrics at the surgery center. Continually show them that the ASC provides exceptional care to their patients," says Ms. Laux. "I also share with them the patient survey responses that we receive stating how much they [patients] prefer coming to an ASC vs. a hospital outpatient department."
More Articles on ASC Issues:
6 Golden Rules of Surgery Center Staff Engagement From Administrator Lori Martin
7 Ways for Surgery Center Leaders to Become Industry Advocates
Bundled Payments & Cost Efficiency in Surgery Centers: Q&A With Gabrielle White of Hoag Orthopedic Institute
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