When your practice has a new procedure or service to offer, there are several things you might do to get the word out and start marketing the option to patients.
While there are certainly a lot of different methods for getting the word out, the most important thing is helping your patients understand how they might benefit from this procedure, and when it might be the best option for them. As with all procedures you offer, the new procedure likely won’t be right for everyone. Even if a patient stands to benefit, things like costs and insurance coverage can also factor in.
When you explain a new procedure to patients, these factors will affect your approach to introducing and marketing the procedure. We have helped several clients market new procedures online over the years. We also got insights from Dr. Ariana DeMers, who shared how she has introduced new orthobiologic therapies to patients in Episode 29 of our Paradigm Shift of Healthcare podcast.
Based on our discussions with Dr. Demers and past experience with helping practices market new procedures, these are some of our tips for explaining new procedures.
1. Consider who is the right candidate for the procedure.
The first step to introducing a new procedure is determining what types of patients might be the right candidate for the procedure. With a new procedure, this goes beyond just whether or not the patient is physically a candidate. There are other factors, like costs, insurance coverage, and the patient’s lifestyle, that might inform whether or not this procedure is right for the patient.
When thinking about the right patients for the procedure, these are a few questions you might ask:
- Would this procedure provide a better or more satisfactory result for the patient over other options?
- Is this procedure covered by the patient’s insurance?
- If the procedure is not covered by insurance, would the patient be willing/able to pay out of pocket?
- Is the procedure the right fit for the patient’s lifestyle, or are there better options for the patient’s lifestyle?
Once you have the right type of candidate(s) in mind, you can start to figure out how to introduce the procedure and market it effectively.
2. Focus on patients’ needs and how the procedure might benefit them.
Yes, some patients may be interested in getting the latest and greatest technology with their treatment, but the average patient is mostly concerned with how they can benefit. How is this new procedure better than the other options? Patients are ultimately more concerned with the end result than the technical aspects of the procedure.
Sometimes, a new procedure might help a group of patients that otherwise had few treatment options. In the podcast episode, Dr. DeMers explains how orthobiologic treatments have helped younger patients with degenerative arthritis. Joint replacement surgery is typically not recommended for younger patients because the implants will need to be replaced about every 10 years, on average. Each revision joint replacement surgery gets more risky, and results may not be as satisfactory as the original procedure. Often, these patients have to just deal with the pain using physical therapy and over-the-counter medication until they are at an appropriate age for joint replacement.
Dr. DeMers found a unique opportunity to help these patients with orthobiologics. Through her extensive research and training on the use of orthobiologics, she found that this treatment could be very helpful to patients who are either too young for joint replacement or just not ready to move forward with surgery. However, because orthobiologic procedures are still relatively new, most insurance companies will not cover the procedure. Dr. DeMers clearly explains this to her patients upfront if she feels they may benefit from the procedure, so that patients are empowered with the information they need to make a decision.
3. Try not to get too technical when explaining new procedures.
Again, patients mainly care about how they might benefit from the procedure and how it might produce better results than other options. As a healthcare provider, you might be very interested in all of the technical aspects of the procedure, but a patient may not care about or understand all of that information. Some patients, of course, will be interested in every single detail, and we know you’ll be ready for them.
For example, when a practice adopts a new robotic device for joint replacement procedures, they often want to focus on the brand name of the surgical device. However, that brand name doesn’t really resonate with patients. Sometimes patients are aware of the general concept of the procedure, but most don’t know about the brand names. Using a more accessible term like “robotic joint replacement” is more in line with the patient’s level of understanding. You can talk about the brand name later in the conversation or in your content, but that isn’t typically what we would lead with. It’s more important to convey the concept of the procedure and how the patient will benefit.
This also means using less medical terminology–especially in your marketing materials. The average person isn’t well-versed on medical terminology, so it’s best to put things in layman’s terms whenever possible. Try to simplify the information as much as you can so that the patient understands the information. If you are having the conversation during an office visit, it would also be helpful to have patient-friendly printed materials and/or a page on your website with information about the procedure so that your patients can reference it later. This can help with the patient’s decision-making process, especially if they are discussing options with family members.
The most important part of introducing a new procedure is empowering your patients with all of the information they need to make a decision. Really, this is true of any procedure you suggest, new or not. This way, your patients know what their options are, and they can decide what will be best for their lifestyle, finances, and desired outcomes.