In the past, the path from primary care to advanced specialty care (ASC) was a singular, closed route.
Step 1: A visit to the primary care provider
Step 2: A preliminary diagnosis and a referral to a specialist
Step 3: A visit to the referred specialist
Then along came the internet, and with it, a patient’s ability to do their own searching for an ASC provider. We got curious about what exactly these new paths look like, so we conducted a survey to see how people make the decisions that lead them to a specialist.
Our first finding? 73.67% of patients search for ASC providers outside of the primary care physician’s referral. The takeaway here is simple: When nearly 3 out of 4 do independent research, specialists have to provide the resources they’re looking for and develop effective messaging around their brand.
Here’s how you can develop messaging and tactics that will put your brand — and its specialists — in front of prospective patients on the prowl for an ASC provider. And it all starts by keeping one question in mind: What do patients want from their healthcare providers?
1. To know your providers’ credentials
When choosing a specialist, about 55% of patients stated that advanced certifications, educational background, and research conducted are among their top considerations — second only to whether or not a provider accepts their insurance.
Use your marketing to showcase your providers’ certifications and the research initiatives they’ve been involved in. This gives prospective ASC patients easier access to those particular insights.
2. Digestible informational resources
We asked our survey participants what their preferred way to receive information is. According to our survey, 51% of respondents answered that they like to consume information via articles and 28% of respondents their preferred way to receive information is through video content.
This is a fantastic opportunity to leverage physician-generated content (PGC). Featuring specialists in video content or having them guest-write articles can show off the expertise and experience that patients are looking for.
3. Providers that receive positive reviews
After the question of insurance coverage is answered, the first thing patients look at when researching advanced specialty care providers is online reviews. And while positive online reviews have all the typical benefits of word-of-mouth marketing, they also bring some unexpected advantages. Namely, an SEO boost and increased chances of ranking in Google’s Local 3-Pack — which makes you more visible to prospective patients than your competitors.
The obvious next step is to make online reviews for your specialists part of your acquisition strategy. It might seem like generating positive reviews is something completely out of your control, but don’t worry — it’s easier than you think.
4. Better scheduling options
Almost half of advanced specialty care patients consider online scheduling their preferred way to make appointments. Because your scheduling process can impact their decision, you need to make sure it’s streamlined. What does that look like?
- Easier access to scheduling through your website’s homepage
- Emails or texts that can take patients directly to your scheduling page
- Clear indicators of available time slots
5. Post-treatment coordinated care
70% of patients we surveyed gave primary importance to finding quality post-treatment coordinated care and a coordinated care team, including elements like efficiency, holistic care, and safety measures.
Highlighting the access to coordinated care that your organization provides can give you a competitive edge over others who might not be shining a light on coordinated care in any of their messaging.
The question: How do we make sure our advanced specialty care prospects can see us?
The answer: Invest in digital marketing approaches targeting ASC patients.
You can’t afford to miss any opportunity to put yourself in front of potential patients. That includes paid search campaigns broken down by service line, conditions, and treatments. In fact, a Think with Google study found that search drove more than triple the amount of patients to hospitals than non-search visitors.
And when it comes to targeting advanced specialty care patients — AKA, those with more specific diagnoses and healthcare needs — make sure your strategy includes a heavy focus on condition research.
Not enough facts and figures?
This is only scratching the data surface. You can dig a little deeper into the numbers with our white paper and joining our webinar.
And don’t forget — before you can create genuinely compelling ASC marketing, you have to put yourself in the shoes of someone along the ASC patient journey. Fortunately, we’ve got step-by-step guides and templates to help you do just that.