1. Develop a plan based on your target audience. Capturing patients can be difficult with competition from hospitals and other healthcare providers, especially when your practice is based on elective surgery during tough economic times. However, if you know what your target patient base desires, catering toward them can raise patient volume. For example, Dr. Connor's practice focuses on treating athletic patients, many of which are adults. People from this demographic traditionally come to the office when they have a problem, but many don't see specialty physicians on a regular basis.
"If they don't see physicians on a regular basis, I want to give them a reason to visit my office," he says. "We decided to focus on helping these people maintain a high level of athletic performance, not just help them after an injury. Including services geared toward peak performance and physical fitness is a place where sports medicine specialists might attract some patients who might not otherwise see a physician."
2. Add services to add value. There are several services orthopedic and sports medicine specialists can add to their practices that will increase its value. From a medical prospective, adding extra equipment to perform procedures such as platelet-rich plasma injections or in-office fiberoptic arthroscopy gives patients additional options if they choose to pay more out-of-pocket.
There are also several non-medical services sports medicine practices can add to bring in additional patients and revenue. Dr. Connor's practice includes equipment to perform nutritional analyses, cholesterol monitoring, C-reactive protein monitoring and the "Bod Pod" to perform body mass indexes, among other services. "These services measure patients' performances and helps them achieve their goals," he says. "My training is in surgical reconstruction of the joints, but I can provide other services and patients will see them as an added value."
3. Focus on cash patients. Physicians and providers have a hard time turning a profit from Medicare patients and some private insurers because reimbursement rates are so low. As a result, more specialists are trying to build a cash-based system that attracts patients who are willing to pay a little extra for these services. "The whole purpose of my business model is to convert the practice to attract the cash patient," says Dr. Connor. "There are patients who see healthcare as something they want to improve their athletic performance."
For cash services, his practice has issued coupons for discounts. "We have worked on some different coupons for cash-based services, whether it's the body fat analysis, monitoring or platelet-rich plasma injections, to bring patients into our practice for non-payor based services," he says. "Patients really respond to that."
4. Locate in the right environment and collaborate with others. Dr. Connor built his practice overlooking a sports performance facility on one side and a football field on the other. He has developed a relationship with the sports performance facility and collaborates with professionals there to provide care for those athletes. "When people come to the practice, they are constantly confronted with athletics," says Dr. Connor. "My collaboration with D1 Sports Training helps encourage patients to understand the values of our different services and patients want that information. We cater directly to patients who want to remain active and athletic."
5. Employ traditional marketing tactics with a new media twist. For years, orthopedic surgeons and practices have relied upon word-of-mouth about their services to attract new patients. They also placed ads in local newspapers or on television, but these expensive methods often prove ineffective. Instead, Dr. Connor has focused on digital media to spread the word about his practice. "In this new digital world, social media has done an amazing job of replacing paid-for modalities in media and making word-of-mouth digital," he says. "We are on Facebook, Twitter and Four Square so patients can interact with our page. We are doing unique and cutting-edge things, and the patients we are seeking are involved with these social media networks."
The word-of-mouth digital marketing spreads even further if patients post updates while they are visiting the practice. "The person who comes in with 500 Twitter followers might Tweet that they are here and spending time in the Bod Pod and that's like free advertising," says Dr. Connor. "This type of post reaches a lot more people than a generalized knee advertisement. We've learned to tune out our radio and TV ads, but we listen to our best friends."
Related Articles on Sports Medicine Practices:
7 Proven Tactics to Position Your Sports Medicine Practice as an Industry Leader
5 Strategies to Boost Sports medicine Patient Volume
7 Ways Orthopedic Sports Medicine Practices Can Cater to Baby Boomers
5 Points on Developing a Concierge Sports Medicine PracticeWritten by Laura Miller | October 20, 2011
Healthcare delivery is changing and while some specialists struggle to stay afloat, others remain on the innovating edge of practicing medicine. Recently, Geoffrey Connor, MD, founder of D1 Sports Medicine in Birmingham, Ala., switched his sports medicine practice from the traditional model of seeing patients as they were referred to offering "value-added" services, making his practice a one-stop shop for concierge sports medicine and sports performance. Dr. Connor discusses this transition and how his business model has given him a competitive edge heading into the future.
© Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2011. Interested in LINKING to or REPRINTING this content? View our policies here.