Hospital Marketing: The Dreaded Colonoscopy

first prostate examMaking it a simple, streamlined scheduling process for the patient can help your hospitals numbers as well as eliminating a truly preventable kind of cancer.

Increasing your hospitals diagnostics is such a challenge as more and more doctor’s groups and other businesses venture into diagnostic labs and services.  But one elective procedure that should be the easiest to sell, from the standpoint of prevention, is also the one that most patients do not want to even think about much less actually schedule-the colonoscopy.

Patients have all heard from Katie Couric and others the cry for every person to have the procedure at age 50 and thereafter as needed.   But what they may not have taken away from all this public awareness is that colon cancer is the one truly preventable cancer unless there are other risk factors such as Crohns’ disease or  a family history.

When there is so much for the patient to gain, and yes, the hospital to gain in procedures, why is this such a difficult procedure to market?

 Is it a taboo subject to put out there in traditional media?  Or just something that we think people won’t respond to with marketing efforts?

After all, it does take several steps or actions for the patient to actually accomplish

1.     First they have to find a gastroenterologist and make an appointment to see them.

2.     After that wait, they get a less than appetizing prep kit and prescription.

3.     They wait yet again for the scheduling of the procedure.

With all this waiting, it gives a patient plenty of time to find excuses and back out of the procedure…no pun intended.

One alternative to this delayed process I saw work very successfully was in a south Texas hospital.

Cultural taboos made it  even harder to convince the largely Hispanic population of the need for the procedures so they developed a colon center along with a team of gastroenterologists who worked on staff at the hospital. 

The center allowed patients to call for one appointment scheduling and they came by that center for a quick review and to pick up their prescription. With this  timely access, patients were often scheduled for the procedure itself within days.  Because there was a large uninsured population, pricing was included  as many diagnostics in that market were actually shopped by price.

Making it simple with one number to call and quick scheduling made all the difference in breaking through barriers to prospective patients.

An emotional plea from the city’s most known gastroenterologist, who had made his life’s work educating the public about preventing colon cancer, was featured in TV advertising along with newspaper ads and radio spots. 

The results: a 40% increase in colonoscopies for that hospital in the following 6 months and likely a good increase at the competition. 

The awareness raised in the local market served the hospital well but just as importantly, educated the residents of the preventative health measure they could all take and help to eliminate a cancer that can truly be prevented by taking early action

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