You get patients from B2B (business to business) marketing – by marketing to other physicians and local businesses and B2C (business to consumer) marketing – marketing to prospective patients directly via digital marketing, print and media advertising, workshops, community outreach events etc.
Digital outreach (emails, calls) or in person visits. You can market to Other physician practices, businesses around your medical practice location(s), Senior living centers, Home healthcare agencies .. plus many more.
A few ways include (not limited to): Digital marketing, Print and advertising, Community outreach, Joint marketing campaigns with payers, other providers promoting health awareness, Health awareness seminars held at your office or other locations.. There are many more if you are creative.
Start small – First figure out what you want to achieve and make sure that it is achievable. It’s perfectly OK to aim for something specific (examples below):
– I want to add 20% more NEW patients per month OR
– I want to add one new referring physician partner per month
– I want to add 20% NEW patients from google – that makes it even more specific
– I want to add 50 new patient reviews each month
– I want to add 50 new patient reviews each month on google reviews
– I want to add 50 new patient reviews each month on Facebook reviews..
You are being very Specific about your goal and You are setting a goal that is Measurable. Once you write it down on paper, you are setting something that is Attainable. Your goal is now Realistic. Your goal is time bound (each month, each week etc)
And that’s it.. You have now set up S.M.A.R.T goals.
“I want to add 20% more patients per month from google”. Let’s break this down. For this, you would need to show up in top 3 google local search results and invoke trust immediately.
So, your high level plan would be to
– Show up on google search results via paid ads or SEO
– Show up as more trustworthy to patients by getting patient reviews
You have two options: Paid ads on google (PPC), and Search engine optimization (SEO).
PPC is expensive, is getting more expensive and competitive by the day. However, done properly, they give you instant results. The day you stop spending on PPC ads, your results stop. This doesn’t mean that you just put up an ad on google and you’ll start showing up on the first 3-4 ad results. You have to work hard to show up on the top paid ad results. If your ad doesn’t get clicked on, google will slowly stop showing your ads.
SEO does not give you instant results but it does give you long lasting results. It takes dedication and daily/weekly work to show up for google search results (especially on the first page). However, as you keep working on it, the results are longer lasting. This does not mean that once you show up / rank higher on google search results, you’re forever going to be there. You still have to keep working on SEO to stay on the first page of search results.
There are small levers in PPC that can make or break your budget and campaign success. Geolocation, if you’re located in Jackson heights / queens, you know that there’s no point showing ads to folks in Brooklyn or Bronx. Patients are not going to travel that far. That means, your PPC campaign has to be leveraging geotargeting / geofencing to avoid wasting money on ads shown to the wrong people. RLSA – you can use retargeting ads (RLSA) on people that have already visited your web page or website. Many digital marketers forget that. Retargeting ads are dirt cheap compared to ads for broader search terms and gives you a very easy way to brand yourself plus stay on top of your patient’s mind.
divide your paid ads budget into Branding, Competing for patients ready to book now, Retargeting
At a minimum, these should be the ones you consider from the get go.
Use facebook ads for branding and reviews primarily.
On Facebook, patients are not actively searching for doctors or your medical practice per se. Facebook is unique in the sense that it does give you much deeper insights into their users’ likes, dislikes, interests etc. You can very well use this information available to you via Facebook ads and target these users for your goals.
Targeting Facebook users for branding works well. What you’re really trying to do is to get your name out there and get people to click through and come to your website.
Once someone has visited your website, you can pretty much follow them around the Internet and retargeting ads work extremely well for these purposes. You could also allow people to book appointments using your Facebook page “book now” button as well. However, always keep in mind that patients are not really actively searching for your medical services on Facebook.
One thing that works very well on Facebook is to get reviews from existing patients. Facebook allows you to upload your customer list (you can provide as little information as needed, to avoid violating PHI related concerns) and create a custom audience out of your customer list.
Once you have this custom list, you can boost (pay) your ads to get reviews from your existing patients. Keep in mind that google shows Facebook reviews when they show your practice search results on the right hand side of google search results.
Here are some directories to keep in mind and get listed on
Google Business, Bing, Yelp, CareDash, RateMds, Vitals, HealthGrades, ZocDoc.
Use a healthcare call center, Google book now, Facebook book now functionality to allow patients to book 24/7. If you have a callcenter, you can also use Google messaging and Facebook messaging.
Aim to add at least one new referring physician partner per month. How would you achieve that?
– Create a list of physicians near your healthcare location(s) to market to.
– Create a simple CRM with this database you gather.
– Hire or deploy your existing physician liaisons to visit these potential referring physician partners OR
– Send faxes/letters to these physicians on a regular basis introducing your practice to them OR Call these practices and introduce yourselves to them on a regular basis
– Work with your scheduling team / front desk to ensure that patients referred by these referring partners get appointments quickly
– Follow up with the referring physician office with visit notes to close the loop and to ensure their patients are happy PLUS the referring physician is happy.
Several options including (not limited to) – NPI database that is distributed by CMS and updated weekly, Google, ZocDoc or healthgrades or rateMDs or vitals.com (business listing directories), Best of all – payer provider directories
You will notice that after 6-7 contacts / touch points with the same practices, you do start getting referrals. Here’s what you need to do:
– Set aside a few hours per day, every single week or have a person dedicated to this function.
– Have a marketing one pager that introduces your practice / medical services ready to go with some stats/numbers to speak of.
– Make sure you have a target number to hit every day (e.g 100 calls per day or 200 faxes per day or 150 emails per day).
– Do not stop until you have made those number of calls or sent those numbers of faxes/emails.
– Every time that you do make a contact with someone at the practice, ensure that you glean some additional information about the practice staff or doctors and add that to your notes in the CRM or spreadsheet.
– Make sure that you team up with your schedulers and ensure that they capture the referring physician information for each patient.
– Make sure that you get a list of all appointments created in your EMR from the day before, identify all the patients that came in from referring providers that you are targeting. The next time you reach out to them, you would be calling to thank them.
– Make sure that your appointment scheduling team also captures the primary care physician information for each and every appointment.
– Make sure that you get a list of all appointments created in your EMR from the day before, identify all the patients that came in from primary care providers (PCPs) that you are not targeting. Add them to your list of folks to call / establish a relationship with (within your CRM or the spreadsheet that you are using). Even if the PCP has not really referred the patient to you – this gives you the opportunity to add new PCPs to your roster, call them to let them know that you are co-managing the patient’s care and would be sending them the visit notes asap after the patient’s appointment.
– Every single day, after each call or faxes/emails blitz, update your CRM or spreadsheet with the latest activity data (e.g. last contact date, outcome etc)
– Follow this process every single day – rinse, repeat.
– You will probably be touching each contact only about 1-2 times a month. Do not repeat your outreach to more than twice a month per contact / practice.
– Each time a practice sends their first patient(s), mark that practice account as a “customer” instead of a “prospect” and handle the account accordingly.
Use physician liaisons for the following functions:
– Marketing to physician offices near your office/practice locations
– Following up with physician offices and reminding them of your services regularly
– Taking care of patients referred by your referring physician partner by seeing them asap, treating them well and ensuring that the patients are happy
– Keeping your referring physician partner office(s) in the loop constantly about the referral they sent over
– Closing the loop with your referring physician partner by sending out consult/visit notes ASAP and transitioning care back to your partner
– Touching base with your referring physician partners regularly to ensure satisfaction, addressing any issues they might have, keeping them abreast of the latest about your practice and the co-managed patients.
Our earnest advice is NOT to mix these two roles as they require different personalities and have a very different focus.
Hunting (physician liaisons) – folks out in the field hunting down new referring partner accounts to close (or rather, “open”). You need to equip this team with the proper training, collaterals, account information (aka referring practice locations), account intelligence (aka physician specialty, clinical interests, number of procedures if possible, procedures performed, expertise, payer mix etc). These are your “field sales reps” or “physician liaisons”.
Farming (referral coordinators) – Once the hunters have hunted and the referring partner has sent their first few patients, it’s the job of the farmers to expand that “account” into getting more referrals. The only way this is going to happen is if your farming team is “on top” of referred patients, patient satisfaction, patient coordination, keeping the referring partner up to date on patient appointment status, reverting back with consult notes and transitioning care to ensure referring partner satisfaction. This is much more of a coordinator role (aka referral coordinator).
– A clearly defined territory – i.e. exact boundaries of where you should be hunting for referring physician partners
– A clearly defined list of accounts in your territory – i.e. a list of all practices, their specialties, their locations – and if a practice has multiple locations, a clear indication of this association of multiple locations to the same practice.
– A well defined list of contact information for your accounts (fax, phone numbers are a must have, websites are a nice to have)
– A clearly defined list of contacts within your accounts – i.e which physicians practice at the account, front desk person(s) name(s) (if possible), referral coordinator’s name (if possible)
– A well defined list of contact information for these contacts within your accounts (fax, phone numbers and emails if possible)
– A well defined list of availability information for these contacts if possible. Many times, liaisons waste time going to practices expecting to be seen by a doctor – only to find out that the doctor only comes in twice a week on such and such day(s) of the week
– Provider/Account intelligence – if possible, a list of information that tells you more about the practice, the kind of plans they accept, the kind of procedures they do, the number of medicare/medicaid patients they see etc.. These require a little bit more legwork by your IT staff but are well worth your time
– A complete history of contacts / touch points and activity history with that practice (e.g. rep 1 has visited 3 times, rep 2 has called 5 times, rep 1 has faxes 3 times, doctor A had sent referrals before but stopped sending 2 years ago, doctor B just sent a new referral etc)
– Training on your own practice’s strengths, weaknesses, areas of opportunities, threats to your practice
– Marketing collateral that can be used for conversation starters, drop off / leave behind material at the practices, key differentiators between you and your competitor
– Referral pads or an even easier way for these partners to refer patients to you. You cannot dictate how this referring physician would send referrals – whether they call in, send a referral via P2P or their own EMR, whether they send via fax, your referral pad or whatever fits within their workflow. You need to prepare your farmer / referral coordinator team with that information
– Software to be able to add account intelligence while you are out in the field and are going door to door. These could include newly discovered staff name, numbers, details on the staff .. or the same with doctors that you discovered when you visited the practice
– Software to be able to add reminders to yourself about following up with a practice on specific dates/times
– Software to be able to check in/check out of the practices you visit so that you don’t constantly have to report back to your boss manually
– To be able to define your route for the day intelligently (i.e. optimized to minimize driving times) without having to be a google maps wizard
– To be able to communicate with your practice staff instantly while you are at the practice you are visiting
– To be able to have a clear idea about the practice and the patients they have referred to your practice over the past year (at least) as soon as you enter the practice – so you are not caught off guard while you’re there
More often than not, we see that physician liaisons are being told to not leave without meeting the doctor. This is not necessary. Many times, we have noticed that doctors actually do not make the referral decisions. There are many times where the referral coordinator or even the front desk that doubles as a referral coordinator is responsible for sending referrals out and is the one that’s responsible for deciding who (which specialist) the referral is sent to.. And they do so purely based on the path of least resistance and the most responsive partners.
– To know which accounts physician liaisons are hunting and who you are aligned with, to support them in their efforts
– To monitor all incoming channels of referrals including referral websites, faxes, emails, phone calls.
– To be in sync with your appointment schedulers to ensure that they capture referring physician information for each patient appointment
– To be able to call patients for whom the referring physician information is not captured and ensure that you at least capture their PCP information.
– Call the referring partner upon receiving the first few referrals to cement the referral relationship. Keep them up to date on the patient appointments, no-shows or cancellations.
– Collaborate with your practice management team or your IT team to get a list of all referrals received in the last week and the status of each referred patient appointment.
– On a weekly basis, call the referring provider office to “tally up referrals sent vs received vs patient appointment information”. For the first few weeks, resist the push back from the referring practice to “just fax over this information”. It takes only 10-12 mins to get this done per practice. Get into the habit of doing so. Each day, you should be able to cover 25-30 practices. Make it a habit to call at the same date/time each week so that the referring practice staff get used to hearing from you.
– Always keep your hunter/physician liaison team up to date on each referring partner account details.. They need details on partner satisfaction, referrals received per week, if referral volume went up or down etc.
– Send thank you notes to your referring practices during holidays and other notable days each year. You can do this more effectively if you establish a good rapport with the stakeholders on their side.. Get to know them better and get to know their birthdates / special life events.
– Escalate referral issues to your manager ASAP
– Always keep an eye out for and probe for referring partner satisfaction. Always ask what their referred patients said about your provider and your practice. Incorporate these notes in your weekly reports to your management.
Feel free to add your own twists to what you do and how you feel it works better for you and your practice
You can do so by Asking patients for referrals, Regimented re-appointing of no show patients, Regimented re-appointing of patients that cancel appointments, Reactivating patients that have fallen out of care.
Every medical marketing agency or consultant will tell you that you need to be on social media (e.g. twitter, facebook, instagram etc)..
They are correct – but think it through carefully.
Do you have the time to manage and maintain these social media accounts?
If not, do NOT start yet another channel that’s going to be just a listing/name and have no dedicated efforts put into it.
It’s better to be diligent about marketing on lesser channels with your limited time than to spread yourself thin by having to manage more listings, more social media accounts etc.
Instead of going a mile wide and an inch deep.. Go an inch wide and a mile deep.
If you are deciding to go ahead with social media accounts, then make sure you monitor your activity on it in addition to monitoring your competitors’ activities on these accounts.
Just like above, first, gauge what your competitors are doing.
Don’t do exactly the same thing – you need to and want to stand out, don’t you.
Think about what else you can do to stand out.
These social media sites make it pretty easy to monitor your “social mentions” – there are free tools to do the same as well e.g.
A few more…
Hope this gets you started.