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December 19, 2011

9 Considerations Hospitals Can't Overlook When Marketing Specialty Programs

In an increasingly competitive healthcare environment, marketing is becoming ever more important.  Marketing for specialty programs, such as those in Cardiology, Oncology, Neurology, Radiology, and Orthopedics and Spine, is particularly important because they require a great deal of investment by hospitals and can produce significant financial benefits for the facility and clinical benefits for the community.  Adam Higman, a manager at Soyring Consulting, touches on nine marketing considerations that can help hospitals gain patient volume and recognition for their specialty service lines.

1. Collaboration.  "[Successful marketing] starts with developing a strong relationship with the marketing and clinical team," says Adam Higman.  "It starts from the top down," he says.  "It needs to be clear from the COO, VP of operations, [etc.], that marketing needs to be involved in the [service line] strategy.  Make sure it's tied into the organization's structure in a way that marketing has a dotted line to those major service lines."

2. Consistency.

3. Differentiation.

4. Focus. 
Focusing on a specific aspect of a program, such as its research or care coordination, can make the program more memorable and relevant to patients and physicians.  Instead of marketing for an orthopedic service in general, Mr. Higman suggests zeroing in on a center within that service, such as a total joint center, and from there concentrating on knees or hips.  "Hospitals need to do the research," he says.  "If you look at the demographics and population, you should be able to pick out procedures that are likely to grow, and pick them out based on not just demographics, but trends at your competitive facilities."

5. Physician-centrism.  Mr. Higman says hospitals should provide detailed information on specialists when targeting primary care physicians for referrals.  "If they're considered major experts on some kind of specialty within that area, or if they're considered a thought leader, you need to share that with the referring physician.  Include journal publications they've been part of and speaking that they've done on topics related to the specialty," he says.

6. Benefits-centrism.

7. Education. 
"Physicians are very data-driven," Mr. Higman says.  "They trust the opinion of colleagues and reputed academic journals and real hard data."  He suggests hospitals benchmark themselves internally to provide physicians with specific information on the specialty program's performance on various metrics, for physicians' first consideration in referrals is the potential benefit to their patients.  "If every hospital has the same certification and is doing the same procedures, it's not [going to] impress physicians.  Facilities should be trying to get published based on new and innovative ways of taking care of patients.  They should be trying to share that information with other hospitals at conferences;  impress referring physicians from a thought leadership perspective," says Mr. Higman.

8. Physician outreach.

9. Improved operations.

For more information, read the full article from Becker's Hospital Review.

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