Data-driven Marketing Plans
Track the health of your organization.
By Laura Moroney, MS
Turning data into marketing deliverables takes practice, planning, and sometimes playful brainstorming. Whether your practice includes a full marketing team or a part-time therapist who spends a few hours each week promoting your clinic, here are a few key data points to help track the health of your organization and a few marketing ideas to help grow your patient population based on that data.
With so much data at our fingertips, it can be overwhelming to find the true nuggets of insight. We work in an age where we could measure nearly every patient touchpoint from (patients’) duration in our clinics to duration (the time the average person spends) on our websites. So, what data is really useful to marketing our practices and how can this information help strengthen our brands and our bottom lines?
Top Three Data Points
There are multiple reports you could use but here are a few data points that help us take an accurate pulse of how we’re doing.
New patients are our lifeline. We all know the best way to get new patients is from current and former patients who spread the word about the amazing care they received at our clinics, with bonus points if they tell their doctors. We start our Monday by reviewing the new patient report. Each clinic has a goal for new patients, which is based on the total number of full-time therapists at the clinic. A good rule of thumb is 25 new patients per full-time therapist per month. By tracking our new patient volume, we determine which clinics need our marketing attention that week.
How to boost new patients: If we notice it’s the middle of the month and a clinic is not on track to meet its goal (and there’s no vacation or sick time to account for), we start talking and brainstorming. What programs or services are we offering that are exceptionally relevant right now? Does one of our services coincide with a health-related theme this month, such as Vestibular Rehabilitation during Fall Prevention Month in September? If so, we might make a push to educate our former patients about these services via an email blast. Or we might reach out to our referral network via a hand-delivered postcard, flyer, or fax blast.
Referrals are tracked each month. We follow our referrals closely and ask questions when numbers start to decline. If our frequent referrers start to become infrequent, we discuss plans for reaching out to that referral source. Was there something that upset a patient or referring physician about our treatment? A visit or call to that doctor by the treating therapist or clinic director may help resolve an issue before losing any future referrals.
How to boost referrals: In addition to our weekly “hot list,” we try to plan a few months ahead with marketing collateral and events. Our long-term marketing calendar includes medical education nights with doctors and patients. We host a ski conditioning class in the fall, just before winter, and an ACL injury prevention class when school starts up and soccer is in season. What skills does your team have that can be shared within your community? Community education is a great marketing tactic to help expand your clinic’s reach and gain access to new patients.
Payer mix can vary greatly by clinic. Our various locations have a wide range of insurance types. We track our payer mix quarterly, and more regularly for clinics that might be struggling to diversify. A healthy mix of insurance types yields a healthy bottom line.
How to diversify the payer mix: We like to segment our referral database by specialty, and then match our programs to physician discipline. This helps provide relevant and educational content to our referral network. Our orthopedic referrals might receive an outcomes report on how a certain tool can help with various sports-related injuries, while pediatric practices might receive an article on proper backpack fit. Our CEO, Shannon O’Kelley, likes to say, “Don’t feed the bears,” which is a reminder that providing relevant, educational content to physicians is more helpful and more widely received than sending a flyer about a program or service, and more economical than providing a fully catered lunch to a doctors’ group.
One of the greatest parts about being a marketer is coming up with fun, creative ideas to help boost our company’s brand. Our team meets both formally and informally to come up with strategies and campaigns to get our company in front of our referral sources. Most recently, as talk of the solar eclipse was sweeping the nation, we came up with the idea of purchasing eclipse glasses in bulk and handing them out to a few physician practices with a note that read, “Let IRG eclipse your patients’ pain.” What are some fun ways to make your practice more memorable?
Laura Moroney, MS, is the marketing advisor at IRG Physical and Hand Therapy, based in Mill Creek, Washington. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.