The rise of alternative ways to access primary care – namely through the advent of primary care services offered by pharmacies, such as flu shots, medication management, and health/wellness advice – poses a challenge for hospitals that traditionally have relied on the strength of their primary care physicians to attract new patients.
Now, in today’s world, patients are turning to sources outside of hospitals to find primary care providers and are turning to hospitals either for specialty services or for emergencies – leaving a hole in a facility’s patient-acquisition funnel.
This leaves contemporary hospitals with a hospital marketing challenge: attracting new patients to a system for primary care versus only conducting service-oriented marketing campaigns that emphasize a specialty.
While there is still a place for specialty service oriented hospital marketing, the time is now for hospitals to take seriously the task of promoting their primary care physicians to the public.
The Role of a PCP as a Care Manager
These days, patients look to PCPs to serve as overall care managers instead of merely being care providers.
Patients aren’t going to PCPs so much for routine care as they are advice and guidance with managing everything from prescriptions to specialty care. In this way, a PCP is a gateway provider to a wide range of specialty services that a hospital provides. The PCP, in this respect, has become the main source of referrals to more specialized services – a source that, as time as gone by, has gotten away from hospitals and into the realm of private practice and non-hospital, non-clinic providers (like major pharmacies).
The rise of the Internet has also caused the role of the PCP to change. Patients are becoming more accustomed to self-diagnosing online and contacting a PCP only for a referral to a specialist. When viewed in this context, a PCP is no longer the frontline provider but instead is a portal to other services.
Since patients are looking for PCPs to be care managers, it’s important that hospital marketing campaigns portray them as such, and promote a PCPs as trusted, reliable resources for overall health and wellness for patients, especially since our population is aging.
Hospital Marketing Campaigns for Primary Care
To remain competitive, and to be a top-of-mind choice for initial care, hospitals need to do a better job of marketing their primary care physicians and promoting them to potential patients who are always in need of medical consultation and information.
Paid Search Advertising
One direct way to reach potential customers is to use paid search ads to promote individual physicians. These days, it appears that most marketing budgets go toward specialty care, leaving individual doctors behind. But even PCPs need concerted marketing support, and paid search can offer that in the form of clicks to individual doctors’ websites from people who are searching either for PCPs themselves (such as “family doctors in _____”) or information.
Each PCP on staff should also be actively involved in content marketing, in the form of contributing to bylined blogs and articles.
Since patients are searching for this information, having a PCP deliver it in a trustworthy, reliable format (that is also easy to read) is enticing to a typical patient or parent who is choosing a PCP for the family. Content ideally should come from the doctors themselves and should be informative, educational, and engaging – offering advice and consultation for health and wellness that most patients will find useful.
Social Media Advertising
Promoting PCPs on social media is also effective, especially when coupled with social media advertising targeted toward those searching for providers online. Facebook in particular is a powerful platform for promoting posts featuring content from a highlighted doctor or for creating ads specifically designed to either promote a piece of content on the website (and by extension, the doctor whose name appears on it) or the physicians themselves.
The goal in all of these channels is to promote a hospital’s primary care physicians as the first-recourse resources. The benefits of taking a primary care centered approach are numerous, but most hospitals still shy away from emphasizing primary care in their hospital marketing campaigns.
Contact TotalCom for more information on how you can forge a new hospital marketing campaign that places the spotlight on primary care and opens the gates for new patients.