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Health care PR & patient volume: Measure what matters

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Jake Miller

Could talk for hours about the intricacies of Waffle House.

Patient volumes are down.

Doctors email CEO.

CEO emails communications department…

Email reads: We need PR to bring in patients. Thanks, Your CEO

You think: Oh, $&*!

You write: You bet! We’re on it. – Eager PR team

If you haven’t experienced this health care public relations quandary give it time. It will happen soon enough, dear friend.

But here’s the good news: You can connect your PR efforts to patient volume if you plan before you pitch.

It takes more time—and isn’t without challenges—but it’s worth it and here’s how to do it:

Measure What Matters
Measure What Matters

Find a focus

Broad thinking will overwhelm your efforts. Instead, keep it simple and run a targeted effort for a specific service line. This allows you to work closely with a small team to pinpoint the challenges they’re facing, the stories they have to tell and the opportunities to connect PR to patient volume.

For instance, perhaps your vascular surgery department has seen a decrease in patients seeking varicose vein assessments and surgery. Now you have a defined target and clear opportunity to drive business.

Build the baseline

Take the time to collect current and past data. So often, it’s easy to jump into great patient stories and other tactics before setting your baseline.

Ask:

  • What’s patient volume been during the past six months? Year?
  • Why is volume down and can communications legitimately reverse that trend?
  • What’s the demographic of that patient base?
  • What’s an ideal patient volume?

With this information in hand, you’re already more dangerous than before (seriously, like Sean Connery as James Bond dangerous). You now can forecast goals to drive your PR strategy.

Win over your web team

Trying to measure patient volume without your web team is an awful experience. Don’t do it.

Instead, set tracking codes for a specific landing page, where you’ll drive traffic for more information, via your PR effort.

From here, it’s vital to direct patients to an online appointment form. When it comes time to report your successes, this foundational element is key for measuring patient volume increase.

Don’t forget the phones

I’ve seen solid stories get play on earned and shared media only to be left wondering: What was the impact?

So, I made the call to the department manager to find that they saw an uptick in appointments.

Great, right?

Well, not really. It’s squishy, anecdotal data and we want facts. CEO’s don’t like “maybes.”

For that reason, set up a unique phone number. It’s simple, cheap and effective—and put it on your landing page. Voilá! You now know how many people made an appointment due to your efforts.

Work your magic

This is that step where you do what you do best.

Tell a great story, include all the important elements and garner robust media coverage that includes the unique URL and phone numbers you implemented (it’s that easy, right?).

Do the math

If you’ve set up your tracking appropriately, you can now do the math. I always like to work with the department manager and web team on this.

Ask:

  • How many patients called or clicked on the appointment form?
  • How many made appointments?
  • How many patients followed through with a procedure?
  • What was the cost of those procedures?

You now know how many patients you brought through the door and revenue generated. Your email back to your CEO is now going to have quite a bit more pop.

Share of voice and impressions are great. But an increase in patient volume? That type of proof will you put you at the adult table.

Want to dig deeper? Give us a holler. This is what we do daily.

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