Specialized outpatient services, such as wound care and hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) programs, have seen tremendous growth in recent years. Today many patients have access to one or more centers within a reasonable driving distance from home. Beyond creating a basic brochure or flyer, how can you boost local awareness and bring more patients into your center? Here are six tips for increasing patient volume:
Double down on your efforts to connect with potential referral sources. Are most physicians and liaisons in your area aware that your wound care program exists? If not, they need to know about you. Here are a few suggestions:
- Hold an Open House. This is a great opportunity to showcase your center, as well as your wound care team and physicians. Consider inviting hospital staff, referring partners, potential referrers, and patients.
- Use technology. A referral algorithm tool, like FlightPlan from Wound Care Advantage, can help you find physicians. It maps out a geographical region and pinpoints doctors in your area treating unique patient populations - like individuals with diabetes who may be in need of specialized wound care. See here: https://www.thewca.com/flightplan
- Host an informational lunch (“Lunch & Learn”) or dinner at your hospital or a local restaurant. Whether you meet one-on-one or present to a group, you’ll have the opportunity to network and build relationships. If your hospital hosts health fairs, get involved - whether it’s exhibiting, speaking, or sponsoring.
Get in front of little issues before they become big ones. They say that bad news travels around the world before good news gets up in the morning. Keep your referral sources happy by making sure the patients they send you are having a good experience. Instead of waiting for a patient satisfaction survey to be sent from the hospital, get immediate feedback at the end of the visit to encourage overall satisfaction. Wound Care Advantage has a Patient Happiness tool -- a customized iOS app that provides the hospital and program director with real-time patient satisfaction scores in the clinic. Just before exiting, the patient simply presses an emoji icon on an iPad positioned near the door and answers the question, “How did we do today?” See here: https://tinyurl.com/y9m43xxd
A recent Nielsen study revealed that 84 percent of consumers trust the recommendations of friends and family more than any other method. Listen to your patients and serve them well -- especially if there’s a problem. In turn, they will help you get the word out about your wound center.
Use video storytelling as a powerful marketing tool. Consider having a professional video crew chronicle the healing journey of one of your patients (with the approval of your organization’s compliance department, of course). Include interviews with your medical director and clinical staff. Share on your hospital’s website and social media channels, and encourage team members to do the same. Visit the Wound Care Advantage YouTube page to see examples we’ve created for our partners, like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue-5dbyEwLU
Support your hospital’s social media efforts. At least once a month, offer to contribute meaningful content to your hospital’s communications team for sharing on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Are you offering a new service? Are you hosting an informational seminar? Are you celebrating a milestone? Do you have a fabulous new hire? Arrange for photography, as appropriate, and have it posted! It’s important to check in and monitor feedback afterward.
Pitch a human interest story to a local media outlet. Do you have a physician on your team with a compelling background, or a moving patient success story? Would they be willing to give permission for their stories to be told? Share this information with a local reporter. Again, be sure to obtain proper permission. Coordinate the details with your hospital’s or wound care management company’s corporate communications team.
Get involved with your local American Diabetes Association chapter. The ADA is a wonderful resource for data, information, and services. Get involved with your local chapter. Attend monthly meetings and connect with members who have interest in wound care or hyperbaric oxygen therapy. To get started, visit www.diabetes.org and enter your zip code for local information and events.