Build a Data-Driven Marketing Program Foster relationships by eliminating the guesswork BY ROBIN NTOH

Relying on word-of-mouth to cultivate awareness is not enough to establish and build reputation among potential patients in today’s

competitive healthcare marketplace. Patients are using various means to shop for and select their care providers, and it is helpful to have a marketing pro- gram that connects with people as they consider options. Since marketing tra- ditionally has not been a priority for healthcare organizations, an ASC might not know where to begin as it looks to cost-effectively generate interest with- out overburdening staff. Consider these tips for getting started.

Allocate the necessary resources. Marketing should not be a one-time push, but an evolving, living, breath- ing program. Assigning someone or a group of people to take ownership of marketing helps ensure a program is well-executed and maintained. Those leading the effort should have an inter- est in relationship-building and be committed to growing the organiza- tion’s market presence. While market- ing does not have to be expensive, it does require an investment that is ade- quate for paying for programs such as a website, software, promotional mate- rials and events.

Leverage data to focus the work. The most lucrative marketing programs are based on data. Having information on how patients learn about your organiza- tion can lead to more targeted collateral. Without it, organizations can end up spending money on strategies that don’t fully reach the right patients. Market- ing tools—specifically, tools embedded

in a practice management solution— can efficiently run reports that gener- ate a picture of how current patients learned about your practice and its ser- vices. For instance, they can offer data on the top sources for physician refer- rals, the most popular procedures, and whether patients heard of your facility through a mailing or event. By leverag- ing these reports, an organization can zero in on activities that will yield the greatest return on investment (ROI). Most ASCs prefer marketing tools

that involve minimal setup, relying instead on referral information that staff can enter into the patient’s record. These tools can be designed so staff are required to enter this information before completing patient check-in, ensuring the data is comprehensive and accurate for optimized use.

Foster referral relationships. Prob- ably the most important resource for supplying new patients is physicians. By building relationships with prac-


titioners, an ASC can increase refer- rals over time and improve informa- tion exchange between providers. Again, having access to data can help. By reviewing information about refer- ral sources and how much revenue is tied to them, an organization can reach out to see that their high perform- ers have all the information needed to confidently and consistently recom- mend the organization. This informa- tion could include referral cards that list the organization’s contact informa- tion, leave-behind pieces that answer frequently asked questions or even a direct phone number for dedicated schedulers. Another way to connect with physicians—especially, those who could refer patients but are not currently doing so—is to contact and invite them for a facility tour, so they can see first-hand the level of care you provide. The goal of any of these com- munications is to reinforce that your ASC is a true partner in extending the patient experience.

The advice and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent official Ambulatory Surgery Center Association policy or opinion.

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