Smart Marketing: 5 Strategies for Increasing ASC Patient Volume
Although ambulatory surgery centers haven't traditionally played a big role in patient acquisition marketing, that isn't necessarily the case anymore given the rise of high-deductible health plans and consumer decision making, according to Scott Christiansen, president of CCO Healthcare Partners.
"Healthcare is a lot like Chicago weather," he said. "Wait 10 minutes and things will change. What's changed is patient choice."
At the 20th Annual Ambulatory Surgery Centers Conference in Chicago on Oct. 25, Mr. Christiansen shared some key strategies for ASC marketing in an era where people are shouldering more responsibility and putting more thought into their healthcare decisions.
1. Pay attention to online rankings and reviews. When making specialty care decisions, most if not all patients do independent research, according to Mr. Christiansen. That often involves a Google search, which brings up Yelp and Google reviews. These online evaluations can be an ASC's best friend or worst enemy, he said. In any case, not having a presence on review sites can hurt visibility.
For instance, Mr. Christiansen pointed out a Google search for The Hand Institute in Miami, Fla., brings up results for a competitor.
"They don't have a Yelp profile," he said of The Hand Institute. "Who pops up? Our buddy the Miami Hand Center, and there's their Yelp review."
2. Construct a credible website with valuable content. Patients often visit provider sites as a sort of credibility test. If the site looks outdated, that will reflect poorly on the surgery center, Mr. Christiansen said.
Having enough content to show value is also crucial. This can include physician profiles, videos and other in-depth information showing patients why they should go to that particular ASC. A two-paragraph description won't cut it, he said.
"You have to give enough depth of content so they can make an important," he said.
3. Provide proof of performance. The website should also draw in patients with proof of high quality and performance, he said. ASCs can achieve this by posting content such as patient testimonials, case studies, whitepapers, third-party endorsements and independent ratings from companies such as Healthgrades.
4. Develop an search engine optimization strategy. Mr. Christiansen said ASCs looking to up patient acquisition should implement a content-based SEO strategy that incorporates social media. Providers should identify keywords they want to "win" in search, meaning they will come up first if someone types those terms into Google. ASCs should then seek to incorporate those words into their site.
However, he said valuable content, such as blogs and newspaper articles, serves as the base for online promotion.
"It starts with creating good content," he said. "That's the number one thing."
5. Stay top-of-mind through various promotion channels. Surgery centers should make themselves known to potential patients through customer relationship management, blogs, newsletters, articles and social media. They can also stay top-of-mind by sponsoring local teams, events and causes, according to Mr. Christiansen.
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