My company provides mobile urodynamics, anorectal manometry (ARM), and other diagnostic testing services, serving hundreds of practices and hospitals across the U.S.
We are considered a core service by many of our customers, but we are considered ancillary services by others. We are regularly exposed to the ancillary medical services marketing efforts that practices pursue to attract patients to their ancillary services.
Many marketing efforts are quite successful, while others yield almost no results. Below are a few of the ones we see working consistently.
1) Google AdWords with precise geographic targeting- The price of paid search engine marketing has risen dramatically over the last decade. For many, it has become uneconomical. However, if correctly configured and targeted, it can work for higher value medical ancillary services. In particular, with its geographic targeting features, you can narrow Google AdWords down to a small region. For example, you can target a specific community in a metro area or specific zip codes. By combining this geographic charting with a precise set of keywords, you can achieve affordable and effective search engine marketing. For keyword selection and configuration, you must use "phrase match" and "exact match" keyword combination for precise targeting and budget maximization. Using zip code level targeting with "phrase match" and "exact match" keywords along with a few other AdWords optimizations can lead to a robust sales pipeline for your ancillary services.
2) A prominent feature on your website– You will need to feature your new ancillary service prominently on your site. We recommend having it on your homepage for the first 12 months after the launch of the ancillary service. We also recommend having a full page dedicated to the ancillary services with the name of the ancillary service in the page title, which will help with organic search engine traffic. Additionally, having a dedicated page or pages will communicate to the regular visitors of your website that you have the service. Dedicating a page (or more) to it will demonstrate its importance.
3) Affiliated practice referral system- Your ancillary services will likely be unique in your geographic area, or at least unique to some degree. Therefore, there is an excellent opportunity for other practices in your area to refer to you for the use of your ancillary services. We recommend reaching out to a minimum of 15 practices in your area that would serve as a good referral source. For example, if you were an OB/GYN practice, you might reach out to internal medicine and general practice practices to let them know you are offering the new ancillary service. You will likely need to talk to the physicians directly and then send them a follow-up email chain consisting of 1 to 3 reminder emails providing information on your ancillary service. A single call will often not be sufficient. After a few referrals have come in, be sure to call to thank the referring physician to set up a positive feedback loop so they will continue the stream of referrals.
4) Patient referral system- As with any business, your existing customers are often the best source of new customers. Likewise, existing patients are the best source for referrals for new patients. As your ancillary services begin to attract patients, you need to develop a system for asking for referrals from these patients that are using your ancillary services. The critical factor is that you have to ask. A simple way to do this is to hand them a short survey or form and let them fill in information on prospective patients. Most patients are more than happy to do this. Additionally, you can give them a piece of marketing material and asked them to deliver it to any person they know that would use the service. Most patients won't take the step or remember to provide a marketing flyer, so it is essential that you collect the prospective new patient's information so you can act and follow up with them. (Note: You must be mindful of HIPAA regulations when requesting and recording referral information.)
5) Waiting room content- You will need to feature your new ancillary service prominently in your waiting room. There is a three-pronged approach that we recommend for this. First, put up a poster on an easel that everyone in the waiting room can see. A sign on an easel draws much more attention than a banner hanging on the door or wall. The poster on the easel should direct interested patients to a take-home brochure. The brochure should contain detailed information about the ancillary service, and it should provide information on scheduling the required appointment. Thirdly, if you have some IT capabilities within your practice, it is advisable to have the brochure refer to a quick and easy scheduling system whereby the patient can schedule an appointment right then and there while they are thinking about the ancillary service. In today’s busy world, it is too easy for a prospective patient to get distracted and forget about the brochure they picked up earlier, so offering “one-click scheduling” will help you bring in more patients. Furthermore, it is best to take human interaction out of the scheduling if possible and allow prospective patients to self-schedule. With patients’ crazy schedules, patients need the flexibility to schedule appointments before or after working hours.
6) Existing patient base information session- Finally, we recommend offering an information session in an open house format. You would broadcast this to your entire patient population and allow them to come in and hear about the ancillary service. Information sessions are very cost-effective marketing and will serve you well in jumpstarting your new ancillary service. To make this most effective have a sign-in sheet so you can follow up with those that show interest. Timely follow-up is critical. Also, it is it possible to use the one-click appointment registration option described above so you can get people registered while they are thinking about the ancillary service at the information session.
We wish you the best of luck with your ancillary services, and we hope the above items will help you be more effective with your marketing. If you are interested in adding advanced diagnostics, my company provides mobile diagnostics that may be a good fit for your ancillary services strategy. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or click the button below.
Additionally, we help practices with their marketing on a regular basis, so feel free to reach out to us regarding marketing your ancillary services.