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    Christian Green
    Christian Green, MA

    Only 29%25 of medical groups use marketing data to target and acquire high-value patients, according to a July 26, 2022 MGMA Stat poll.

    The Medical Group Management Association’s most recent MGMA Stat poll asked healthcare leaders, Do your org’s marketing campaigns use data to target and acquire high-value patients?” The majority (59%) said “no,” while 29% said “yes,” and 12% responded “unsure.”
     
    The poll was conducted July 26, 2022, with 397 applicable responses.
     
    According to Ty Allen, president and chief executive officer, SocialClimb, medical group practices should follow three steps when targeting high-value patients to help grow their practice.

    1. Take control of your practice’s online reputation

    An important first step is locating provider profile pages on Google. “If you haven't claimed them or set them up for each of your doctors in each location where they practice, you're missing out on free patient flow,” Allen says.
     
    Once you find the pages, there’s a link at the bottom that says, “claim me.” After the pages have been claimed, Allen notes that it’s beneficial to optimize them: “You want to get the right pictures, the right hours of operation, the links to your website … All of those pieces are easily configured, and you know them better than anyone else.”
     
    If you don’t claim your providers’ pages, they might be claimed either by disgruntled patients or a competing practice. If the latter, they may either shut them down or, worse, include incorrect or false information on the pages.
     
    Once your practice has claimed the pages, Allen says you should ask patients to leave feedback by emailing or texting them, which is more effective than requesting feedback by placing a sign in the office or handing out cards to patients. “We've actually seen that if you send a message consistently to patients, about 10% of them will leave you a public review,” states Allen. “If you just look at your numbers on a monthly or annual basis, and say 10% of your patients leave you a public review … your star rating will definitely go up, because 98% of your patients are super happy.”

    2. Utilize data to attract patients

    Allen contends that, historically, healthcare organizations have not focused marketing efforts on targeting patients through ads. However, the data practices get from patients through targeted ads can be nearly as valuable as patient-generated health data.
     
    “The question I like to ask the practice is, ‘do you make decisions in your practice of medicine without definitive data?’” he asserts. “The answer is always, ‘no, we have to make some guesses, but for the most part, we want to collect all data possible and then make the best estimation on what the care should be … to help the patient get better.”
     
    Allen says that practices can ask a similar question when tracking high-value patients using predictive data models. “There are a bunch of vendors who have predictive data that you could access that would tell you who needs certain types of procedures in your area in the next 12 months,” he notes. “You can then take that list of potential individuals and target them with display ads.”  
     
    This data originates from Equifax, but Allen says that there are many companies that enrich the data by running models that can help practices determine which patients may need surgery. He provides the following example: “The next time somebody does a search, and they say their knee hurts, up pops an ad when they're on Facebook, Instagram or Google. Your practice is not listening to them through Siri; you just know by all these other data indicators … that they're likely to need this [procedure].”

    3. Measure your ROI

    Once your practice has taken the first two steps, Allen says it’s crucial to track return on investment (ROI). If your practice has a strong business profile page on Google and other social media sites, you should be set up to generate a considerable amount of organic traffic.
     
    To obtain more traffic, practices can employ display and brand ads. The conversions you get through these ads can be tracked through your practice management system (PMS) simply by creating a unique phone number for patients to use when they see the ad. “When they dial your practice … they just click the link they dial; as it goes through, you capture their caller ID,” says Allen.
     
    Your practice can then check if the number matches an existing patient in the PMS. What’s more exciting, according to Allen, is when the PMS does not recognize the number. “We then put that phone number in a surveillance pool, and we ask the practice management system every day from then on, ‘have any of these numbers become attached to patient records?’ If they have, we know we have a conversion from a source,” says Allen.
     
    Your practice can then take it a step further to determine which campaign the conversion came from. “Then you have the data that says, well, that ad is working or that ad isn't working,” notes Allen.
     
    He adds that if your practice is going to budget a certain amount for marketing each year, a portion of that should be used to determine what’s working. For example, if your practice is only spending $150 to acquire a new patient and that patient yields $15,000, that’s an easy argument when justifying the ROI of a particular ad to the practice’s doctors.
     
    It’s also more valuable because your practice is getting vital information beyond calls, clicks and impressions; you’re potentially getting the names of new patients. “The revenue associated with each of those patients can be the real indicator, the real KPIs of performance … you're making decisions that are actually tied to the growth and profitability of the practice,” says Allen. 

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    Our ability at MGMA to provide great resources, education and advocacy depends on a strong feedback loop with healthcare leaders. To be part of this effort, sign up for MGMA Stat and make your voice heard in our weekly polls. Sign up by texting “STAT” to 33550 or visit mgma.com/stat. Polls will be sent to your phone via text message. 
     
    Do you have any best practices or success stories to share on this topic? Please let us know by emailing us at connection@mgma.com.  
     
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    Christian Green

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