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How to Market for Patient Wellness and ACOs

Over the past few years, the concept of healthcare value has been given more of a spotlight. Now, with the rise of the Accountable Care Organization (ACO), practices are actively seeking new methods of marketing to drive the idea of consistent patient wellness. While the basic principle of engaging the patient in the whole process, from decision making to follow up, still stands, there are a number of ways to tailor your marketing so that wellness is a main focus. 

Know where the patient’s journey begins…

First and foremost, you need to know where your patient’s journey starts. If you think it begins when they step foot in your office, chances are you’re missing out on a very crucial step that could assist your marketing campaigns. Your patient’s journey will typically begin as they search for their symptoms online, or seek a referral from their doctor. In both instances, it’s important to have your online presence up to date. Make sure you have your listings claimed and your site properly optimized for user experience. This can include things like up-to-date “contact us” pages, provider information, and CTAs (calls to action) on your homepage. If they find you via a symptomatic search, that’s a fantastic process. If they are referred to you via a physician, you’ll want to make sure they can find your information on your website via a search of your name as well. By keeping your information in check, you are showing the patient that you are invested in keeping things easily accessible for them, which is a first step in the wellness cycle. 

…but don’t let it end. 

Even though the patient’s journey starts with a push to your site, it doesn’t end there. In fact, the patient is going to continue to use you as a resource even after using your practice. It’s important to keep the information, such as patient forms, release notes, and contact numbers recent, that way these items are correct and at the patient’s fingertips. If this information is out of date, you are forcing the patient to take extra steps, and potentially form a negative opinion toward your practice. In addition, make sure you are communicating with your patient’s consistently. This can be done with simple newsletters, quick reputation-friendly follow ups, or a friendly email after their visit. By doing this, you are proving to your patient that you are less concerned about reaction, and more concerned about keeping them well and happy!
Healthy Man Playing Soccer

Market wellness, not sickness…

Too often marketers are asked to promote something reactive due to a spread in a sickness, or an influx in patients with certain ailments. While it gives them the opportunity to create something nice and flashy, most of the time it’s due to it being a scare tactic. In order to a push a more proactive model of healthcare, it’s important to generate the idea of wellness, and do it continuously. Creating infographics, pamphlets, and signs can all be a smart start. Most of us have fond memories of reading the “how to wash your hands” or “how to wash your mouth with fluoride” signs from elementary school, and for most of us that was a WHILE ago. So why did it stay with us? Because it promoted a positive idea of wellness, and the fact that handwashing and fluoride contribute to healthy immune systems and teeth respectively. Start by doing the same thing with your web presence, via social media and your website, and you’ll develop a plan that sticks!

…but clearly state your messaging.

Here’s where it can get tricky, and where the experts can step in and make a difference. What are you value propositions? What are your KPIs? What are you overall goals? If you run a OBGYN practice and place a fluoride poster up, that might not generate the kind of response you intended. Instead, focus on creating messaging that’s related to your practice, that way it sticks in your client’s brains. For an OBGYN, well-woman exams, healthy pregnancies, and after birth care are all great areas that require proactive healthcare. Brand yourself as a practice that is devoted to this style of wellness, and your patients begin to see you as not only their physician, but a partner in a healthy lifestyle. 

Capture the data you need…

So you’ve figured out where the patient’s journey begins and have that buttoned up and you’ve determined a successful plan for marketing wellness within your practice. Now, how can you reach your patients and spread your new and improved plans? Most practices utilize a EHR system that maintains a patient database. Within this database, you have your patient’s information such as their email, phone number, name, and last visit. If Patient A hasn’t been to your practice in over two years, but you know they need an annual exam, why have you not spoken to them between those last 365 days? Find out what sort of information your EHR can export, and use that to your advantage. 

…but know how to use it effectively. 

When using this data, you must make sure to keep it HIPAA compliant! For example, sending emails with multiple people CC’d and stating that it’s because they all had an appointment last week is a direct violation. However, if you develop a mailing list, separate it into groups, and utilize a HIPAA compliant software to send messages to them about their next appointment dates, then you have created an effective solution for promoting wellness, and keeping your patients in-the-know. In addition, you can use this as a “kill two birds with one stone scenario” and develop a reputation campaign to gain more positive reviews. 

 Let the healthcare marketing experts help. 

If you’re looking to promote wellness, let the marketing experts like Practis help you out. From developing personas to creating robust social media campaigns, our team can help you take a step in the right direction and prepare your patients for a lifetime of health and knowledge. Contact us today to get started!

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