I have spent almost 10 years helping orthopedic, spine and neurosurgery practices grow their patient volume and over that 10 years, many things in the marketing world have changed. However, the one thing that seems to remain constant is when orthopedic and spine practices decide to call our office to see if we can help them. In almost every case, it is when they have noticed a change in the system they have relied on for so many years. Below are two common examples of when orthopedic and spine practices seem to suddenly feel the need to develop a marketing strategy.
Scenario #1 – Competitive Intrusion from Another Practice
Of course your practice has always had competitors, but it never seemed to be an issue as there was always enough patient volume to go around. Then, one day you are driving to work and see your competitors on a billboard. You open a magazine and there they are with a full page ad. You start searching online and there they are at the top of Google with a brand new website. What happened? Well, your once docile competitor has now engaged in a full scale marketing plan to expand their market share.
In other cases, several smaller groups have now merged to form one larger group and they are using Direct to Patient Marketing Strategies to target patients in your catchment area. Single orthopedic group office location are now part of a larger brand (with a larger budget) that is spending significant amounts in marketing. Suddenly you realize that your website is outdated, you have no clear marketing strategy and your competitors are now syphoning potential patients away from your practice.
Scenario # 2 – Referral Consolidation
The Primary Care group down the street has always been a reliable source of referrals for your practice and you have always appreciated their willingness to send you patients. However, in the background, the reimbursements these PCP’s are seeing is declining while the overhead to run their practice has gone up exponentially. This makes the opportunity to sell their practice or become employed by a larger health system very enticing for these practices. In fact, a Jackson Healthcare surveyed showed that 70% of all hospital acquisitions of Primary Care practices were initiated by the PCP’s. Once these referring practices are employed by larger hospitals or health systems they are encouraged to not “leak” referrals to unaffiliated practices and instead “upstream” them to either employed orthopedic and spine specialists or orthopedic groups affiliated with the hospital. If your practice is not one of these “preferred” specialists, that referral volume can disappear almost overnight.
Developing a Marketing Strategy
Though neither situation is ideal for an independent practice, neither situation is an anomaly either. Over the last few years, the trend in healthcare has been one of consolidation of practices and then an expansion of market share by implementing a well-funded marketing strategy. This battle is often being waged online as practices now realize the power of Google, YouTube and Social Media. Considering that almost 70% of patients are looking for a provider online, this is often where the battle for new patients is won and lost.
Too often orthopedic, spine and neurosurgery practices only understand the need for a marketing strategy when they start seeing a drop in patient volume as the result of the situations above. Having a marketing strategy for your practice should not be a reactive response to your competition but a proactive one so that you are prepared for changes in the patient acquisition landscape. When you only begin to see the need for marketing when you are losing volume, you are already playing from behind and the longer your competitors are running the race, the harder it will be for your practice to catch up.
Gold Medical Marketing is the only firm in the country that focuses exclusively on Orthopedic, Spine and Neurosurgery Practice Marketing. Our team works with practices across the country to create the most effective marketing strategies based on their location, competitive analysis and patient demographics. Gold Medical Marketing also offers No Cost Marketing Audits wherein we will objectively review your current practice marketing efforts, competitors and create a strategy for your specific practice. Even if your practice does not have a current marketing strategy, we can create a strategy specifically for your practice. Contact us today to learn more.