This article originally appeared in Becker’s Orthopedic and Spine on 12/27/18.
Daniel Goldberg, CEO and creative director of Gold Medical Marketing, discusses the biggest trends and opportunities for healthcare providers in marketing and patient acquisition heading into 2019.
Question: What are the biggest marketing mistakes private orthopedic practices need to avoid in 2019?
Daniel Goldberg: There are two very distinct mistakes orthopedic practices need to avoid. The first is not understanding the need for a direct-to-patient marketing strategy. Patients are becoming more research-oriented and relying less on referrals from primary care providers for orthopedic care. With this being the case, practices need to have a strategy to capture new patients and can no longer rely solely on referrals and outdated marketing strategies.
The second mistake orthopedic practices must avoid is not having a defined marketing budget each year. Not having a defined budget often leads to practices spending impulsively without a longer-term strategy, which results in disjointed messaging and marketing and no tangible return on investment.
While many orthopedic groups see marketing as an ancillary expense, they should be seeing it as a revenue-generating opportunity. If practices responsibly allocate a budget toward marketing, and the marketing is executed correctly, the ROI should far outweigh the initial budget.
Q: What are the biggest marketing challenges facing private practice orthopedic groups in 2019?
DG: The most significant challenge for orthopedic practices in 2019 is continued hospital acquisitions of both primary care and referring practices as well as the increasing numbers of hospital-employed orthopedic surgeons. These acquisitions allow the hospitals to control the entire continuum of care and keep it inside the hospital system and reduce leakage.
This means that independent practices need to make sure they are aware of these acquisitions and are engaging in their own direct-to-patient marketing efforts so that they are not dominated by these larger systems.
Q: How can private practices overcome these challenges?
DG: While many hospital systems have marketing budgets that are far higher than a private orthopedic practice, it does not mean that orthopedic practices cannot compete. The key is being agile and looking at areas for opportunity in marketing. Also, it means that marketing budgets need to be spread across multiple mediums and not relegated solely to billboards or print ads to ensure the practice is reaching potential patients in new and unique ways.
Q: What are the biggest areas of opportunity for marketing orthopedic surgeons in 2019?
DG: By now, most are aware that digital platforms like Google and Facebook are collecting massive amounts of data about their users. And while this can be disconcerting for some, it shows no sign of slowing down. One of the most important aspects of this data is that orthopedic practices can use it to serve highly specific ads, content, video, etcetera, to potential patients in their area. Understanding the online behaviors of patients in need of orthopedic care will allow practices to create highly refined and accurate digital ads that bring in new patient volume at a lower cost per acquisition than traditional advertising.
About the Author
Daniel Goldberg is the CEO and creative director of Gold Medical Marketing, the only firm in the country that focuses exclusively on orthopedic, spine and neurosurgery practice marketing. Daniel Goldberg has lectured at some of the most esteemed orthopedic and spine conferences across the country, including the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Becker’s Orthopedic and Spine as well as the American Alliance of Orthopaedic Executives. He is also a frequent contributor to several orthopedic and spine publications.