Understanding Delayed Action Patients and COVID-19 Marketing Strategies
May 5th, 2020
Written by R.J Canning
Executive Director of Operations
How strategic changes to your practices marketing will set you up for success during, through and post COVID-19.
Every single orthopedic surgeon in the country has been impacted in some way by COVID-19. While laws and orders vary from state to state, most practices were, at minimum, left unable to perform elective surgeries. This direct hit to revenue has resulted in many practices implementing cost-savings measures by cutting various overhead expenses, reducing office hours, and in some cases furloughing and/or laying off staff.
As you explore or revisit options for your own practice, you should make sure marketing and advertising expenses are not on the chopping block.
One of the most important keys to a successful practice and year over year revenue growth is a full schedule of patients, and now is no different. In order to ensure a quick and successful bounce back from the financial circumstances caused by COVID-19, practices must do their part to make sure their schedule is full of qualified patients as states begin to lax the ban on elective procedures.
Many practices will have a backlog of appointments to catch up but must also be thinking ahead for once those patients are taken care of. The best way to ensure you have patients ready for surgery is to keep up your patient acquisition efforts and modify the marketing strategy to the current climate.
When facing the prospect of surgery, especially in fields such as Orthopedics, most patients fall into the delayed action category. This is a term developed by our Have Patient team and is critical in understanding how patients think. Delayed action simply means patients are not yet ready to commit to having surgery immediately. After a successful surgery you’ve probably heard your patients say, ‘I wish I did this sooner.’ That sentiment is how most patients feel after surgery but the prospect of having surgery is still a scary idea. Because we know patients feel this way, marketing efforts can and should be tailored toward delayed action so your practice remains top of mind while patients are exploring and researching online.
This approach means the money you are spending on marketing efforts today will secure patients at some point in the future. In other words, the return on your investment may take longer to be realized but an ongoing marketing and brand awareness investment is crucial to keeping your schedule full through the entire year.
It is particularly easy to understand the delayed action concept during COVID-19; patients who are exposed to your marketing efforts today can schedule appointments when bans are lifted and they are comfortable. In the meantime, they can rightly feel like they’ve made progress in their care path, which is crucial for the practice and therapeutic for the patient.
You can also take these marketing efforts one step further. Patients who are ready to learn more or take a next step, can be seen through Telehealth or virtual appointment. This is a low commitment action that leads patients along the path to surgery and keeps qualified patients taking action during this time.
Being in quarantine during COVID-19 has resulted in an enormous jump in online activity, including patients. People are still searching for providers and some are likely in need of immediate help. The best part is, with a few simple strategies, your practice’s online presence and marketing can easily reflect your ability to schedule patients for virtual appointments.
Many states are beginning to establish timelines to reopen businesses. Some states have gone so far as to announce dates and the necessary requirements for different entities to open, and some are already open. As the timelines and requirements are outlined for the return of elective procedures or surgeries it is extremely important to make sure your practice is ready to fill your calendar with appointments once any backlogs are fulfilled.
This should be thought about now, not once the patient/surgical backlogs are completed.
If you’ve paused advertising or marketing efforts in an effort to save money, it’s not too late to turn them back on, however it might be if you wait several more weeks of months. If you’ve kept up your marketing but have not specifically made changes to coincide with the current climate, that should be your priority.
If you’re not sure that your practice is taking the right steps, or it’s time for an upgrade, we’re here to help.