Jr., managing principal of MCG. “Your entire staff, including physicians, should understand the changes you have made to protocols and how you intend to describe them in your marketing. This will help staff communicate clearly to patients and better ensure everyone is speaking the same language. Once you have that internal message down, begin to get the message out.” For Ambulatory Care Center, atten-

tion was first paid to its website. “We focused on making sure patients could easily get all of the information they needed concerning the measures we are taking to help keep everyone safe,” Hermanson says. The center’s home page identifies some of the ASC’s most significant changes, including COVID-19 tests and fever screening for all patients and staff and personal protective equipment requirements. Internal pages further detail these processes and explain what patients should expect during their visit. “When people learn they need to

have a procedure, they are going to search for surgery providers in their area. We want them to find us and see that safety is our top priority,” Her- manson says. “The biggest way we are going to stand out now and going forward is that we have the ability to choose who comes here and can guar- antee that we have tested everyone who has walked in the door and none have tested positive for COVID-19.” To help attract patients and sur- geons, Medarva rolled out a marketing campaign focused on attractive quali- ties of its ASCs: their accessibility, not connected physically to a hospi- tal and sole dedication to surgeries. A marketing campaign was created fea- turing aerial views of the surgery cen- ters’ locations away from hospitals and crowded parking decks accompanied by the phrase “Conveniently located. Comfortably isolated.” “These are intended to drive home the idea of taking a child for surgery or undergoing surgery yourself at a

standalone surgery center rather than going to a large hospital campus,” Edwards says. To get this messaging in front of its

target audiences, Medarva placed ads in email communications from local busi- ness publications, on television and in social media. The company also pro- vided its surgeons with documentation to share with patients concerned about undergoing surgery. Edwards says he developed online keyword ads around postponing surgery and safety when he saw an uptick in such searches. “We knew that if we got the word out that our ASCs represented another ave- nue—and a safe one—for surgery, we would appeal to patients and surgeons.” Drawing a contrast to the hospi-

tal environment might resonate well with patients, Rabourn says. “Patients have heard that hospitals are essentially linked to COVID-19. ASCs should be communicating how they differ. We are outpatient. We are elective. Patients are in and out. That can help create an important distinction in consumers' minds as they are getting ready to make a decision about surgery.” To help account for patients who might not be technically savvy, Ambu- latory Care Center provided affiliated physicians' offices with printed infor- mation about its new protocols to give to patients when surgery is scheduled. “We want patients to come here know-

ing that we are taking every precaution we can to make them comfortable and less anxious,” Hermanson says. In addition to working with direct referral sources, consider whether there is an opportunity to work with new ones. “That may include engaging in conversations with your local hospi- tals,” McCarville says. “They are look- ing for patient support during this crisis and ASCs are in a position to provide a place for backlogged procedures.”

Understand Your Audience If you adjust your marketing messaging, do not assume patients will all respond the same way. “I think many provid- ers were a little surprised that patients did not come roaring back after ASCs reopened,” McCarville says. “Expect questions from patients and understand that it may be more difficult to get them comfortable with coming in than before the health crisis.” Be sensitive when working on your messaging, McCarville adds. “Patient perception is a strong force. You could potentially lose a patient if you come off as tone deaf to their feelings and reservations.” To better ensure your messaging around safety—and efforts to back that up—are hitting home, lean on your satisfaction surveys, Rabourn advises. For surgeons, ask if any pro- cess and protocol changes have nega- tively affected their ASC experience. For patients, pay attention to feedback about your safety measures. They will likely have plenty to say.

“Prior to the pandemic, the com- ments we received on patient surveys were typically about the procedure or staff,” Rabourn says. “Now, a large majority that come back concern our safety precautions and how we priori- tize safety throughout the surgical expe- rience. That positive feedback helps validate to staff that what they are doing and how they are communicating about it is effective.”


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