Modern patients like to shop around. For Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASC), this might feel like an intimidating new development. But the reality is that healthcare more broadly has been trending in a retail direction for many years. Which means strategies for success in growing an ASC must now include a more holistic approach to marketing.
Think about the typical patient experience: Even when given a referral from a physician, 81% of patients will regularly perform their own internet research before scheduling an appointment. This means looking through reviews, services, physician biographies, and more.
For ASCs, this can present a challenge and an opportunity. That’s because many patients may not truly understand what an ambulatory surgery center is–or how one goes about making an appointment or securing a referral for surgery. A thoughtful, well-calibrated marketing campaign can help your ASC overcome these initial hurdles and enable you to stand out as a preferred solution in patients’ minds.
Why Should You Market Your ASC?
Whether your ASC is brand new or you’ve been operating for decades, it’s important to recognize how competitive the healthcare field is today. Many patients have a significant amount of choice when it comes to where they receive care, and–thanks largely to internet-based research–they are finding ways to exercise their independence.
A marketing campaign is designed to position your ASC as the preferred choice for patients. In order to accomplish this, most ASC campaigns will focus on:
- Raising patient awareness. They can’t choose you if they don’t know what you offer.
- Helping patients navigate your referral process.
- Communicating the benefits of undergoing surgery in an ASC setting.
- Articulating everything that makes your ASC special–and why patients should choose you.
- Increasing awareness of the qualifications of your surgeons.
Ambulatory Surgery Centers are able to provide patients with amazing surgical services in a convenient setting–so it’s likely that your ASC already has great word of mouth. That’s a good place to start! But because the vast majority of new patients often start by doing their own research, generating new growth will require leveraging that word of mouth into a fully fledged advertising campaign.
With a thoughtful, intentional approach, you can turn happy patients into brand ambassadors. You can ensure 5 star reviews are easily visible in all of your marketing channels and online. Many ASCs will feature patientf testimonials in visible places throughout their website. These happy patients will help you bring in more happy patients–and the cycle of positive reinforcement continues.
What Are the Best Ways to Market Your ASC?
A modern, retail-oriented marketing strategy can help bring in new and diverse patients, enabling your ASC to grow even in challenging environments. For many ASCs, this retail approach to marketing may feel foreign, so think of it as providing a unique and valuable service to patients even before they walk through your door.
Some of the most basic marketing steps your ASC can take include the following:
- Develop your branding: Everything from your logo to the color your walls are painted should be coordinated to send your patients a message–to tell them who you are, what you believe in,and what you can do for patients. Consistent branding can help your patients better connect with you.
- Find out where your patients are coming from: This is a critical step: you need to know where your patients are most likely to find you. For example, if your ASC only accepts referrals, you still need to market directly to potential patients for brand awareness and education–but you’ll likely want to direct significant efforts towards other physicians in the form of a surgeon-to-surgeon, administrator-to-surgeon, or administrator-to-nurse recruitment campaigns.
- Create content your patients want and need: Most potential patients who visit your website, for example, will do so because they have questions or concerns. One study found that 89% of patients will Google their symptoms before asking a doctor about them. So maybe it’s not surprising that there are over 70,000 medical-related Google searches per minute every day. This means you have an opportunity to create content designed specifically to answer patients’ questions and concerns. This will help you earn patient trust and position your ASC as an authority. This makes education-based marketing initiatives more effective (patients will believe you when you talk about the benefits of ASCs because you’re already an authority).
- Embrace video: In general, video will generate more engagement than anything else. According to one survey, 90% of consumers want to see more videos from brands. Humans are very visual creatures, most of the time! If you have the capacity to add videos to your website and social media, you’ll gain more traction.
- Proceed thoughtfully: A good rule of thumb is that you should only engage in these marketing steps if you have the ability to execute them well. Create a thoughtful marketing strategy–and put that strategy into action where you can do so effectively.
- Avoid calling out your competition in a negative light: Such a negative approach (or even a passive-aggressive approach) typically doesn’t resonate well with patients. Instead, just tell patients what’s great about you!
Some Tips on Getting Started
Creating an ASC marketing plan from the ground up can take a good deal of time, energy, and effort. But here are some easy tips that can help you get started on the right foot:
- Put together a dedicated team to help you. Marketing for your ASC likely won’t be a part-time job. So it’s important that whoever is assigned to your marketing tasks have the ability to do it full time. If possible, consider using a marketing agency to help you get started.
- Make sure all of your stakeholders have the same goals and priorities. If physicians have a separate top priority than administrators, for example, it will be hard to achieve success. This is especially true if your ASC has a complex ownership structure (for example, ASCs may be owned by hospital systems or private physicians–and the ownership structure will influence who the stakeholders are).
- Establish measurable goals. And then make sure you have analytics and data tracking in place so you can keep track of and report on those goals. It’s important to make sure your goals are objective and measurable. We recommend using SMART goals. These are goals that are:
- Specific: Avoid goals that are nebulous or ill-defined (such as “getting better” at marketing).
- Measurable: Make sure that you can measure your progress in some way.
- Achievable: Set goals that you can realistically achieve but which will also push you in the right direction.
- Relevant: Ensure your goals are contributing to your marketing vision.
- Time-bound: Set deadlines for your goals. You don’t want them to go on forever! (Once you’ve achieved a goal or hit a deadline, set a new goal.)
- Make sure you have budget and strategy documents. That said, it may become important to revise or change your strategy as time goes on. Make sure you have mechanisms in place to do this.
Marketing an ASC Can Be a Big Job
Marketing can be a huge undertaking, especially if you don’t have experienced marketing staff on hand. After all, you’re used to taking care of patients–not creating adwords campaigns. Marketing for an ASC can be particularly complex–in no small part because lead funnels and referrals can be a little tricky.
That’s why it’s also a good idea to make sure you work with an agency that is familiar with the ASC marketplace and has proven success fueling the growth of ambulatory surgery centers like yours. To find out more, contact PatientX today!
About the Author:
George Featherstone is the Director of Digital Strategies at PatientX Agency. He's been a fearless front-end developer, technical SEO consultant, and always a digital marketer. He’s a creative problem solver that can code WordPress themes from scratch, code Shopify themes, as well as work in Hubspot template code, always with technical SEO best practices. He also runs PPC campaigns, and optimizes customer engagement through pop ups and slide outs and email flows. As a well-rounded technical marketer, George’s passion for SEO and love of front end code make him a great member of the team, and his constant search for optimal solutions drives everyone at PatientX to do push the boundaries of what's possible. With over ten years of experience in his field, George has made a successful career as a self-taught man. He taught himself everything he knows with the help of classes offered by Google, Microsoft, Hubspot, SEMrush, Udemy (with certifications from all the above) and the vast repository of knowledge available on YouTube, and years of hands-on real world experience. George has worked with national and international brands, and some of the brands and projects he has worked on have been featured in Forbes, GQ, and Good Morning America. His experience has included managing hundreds of thousands of dollars in PPC campaigns, to ranking numerous sites for countless top ten search terms in Google.