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Posted By Mercury Healthcare on 01/30/2023

5 Steps to Increase Patient Acquisition (And Achieve Growth Goals)

5 Steps to Increase Patient Acquisition (And Achieve Growth Goals)

In the healthcare space, acquisition is more than just waiting for a new patient to enter your practice. It encompasses all of the actions someone takes before they enter into an encounter with your provider -- completing an online health assessment, filling out a contact form, making a phone call, or requesting an appointment.

From the consumer’s perspective, they’re only going to take these actions when they’re ready to choose a particular provider or service, and they’re only ready to make a decision when that service meets their specific needs and values.

With engaged, self-directed, content-seeking consumers being the new norm, healthcare providers need to level up their patient acquisition strategy to stay competitive. 

Healthcare Organizations Can’t Rely on Referrals Alone

The reality is that organizations can no longer solely rely on referrals for new patients. Healthcare consumers are researching, comparing, and validating physician referrals well before they make a decision.

Further, consumers are now demanding greater levels of convenience, personalization, and choice:

  • 77% of consumers search a variety of digital channels rather than solely visiting provider websites

  • 61% of patients use online resources to research providers while only 30.6% rely on word-of-mouth referrals

  • There has been a 44% decline in the usage of provider referrals and a 70% drop in insurance referrals since 2018

  • There has been a 30% increase in the use of online search since 2018

To keep up with the modern patient, healthcare has to look to other industries that excel in online marketing (such as retail) for inspiration.


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The Role of Marketing in Patient Acquisition

Healthcare is highly personalized and episodic. For the consumer, a health purchase is essentially a “grudge purchase”. No one fantasizes about their next healthcare visit like they would about a new car. 

For this reason, we need to think differently about what acquisition entails. We like to define acquisition as all of the actions patients take before they have a physical encounter with your organization. 

Alongside each step in a consumer’s journey to that encounter, marketers play a critical role in delivering relevant, tailored communication and guiding them to a “moment of choice”. This content needs to reach consumers where they are, and they often need to interact with multiple touchpoints before they decide to take action with your organization. 

The best-performing organizations provide insightful, personalized, and tailored content that identifies their specific problem and offers a personalized solution while nudging them toward taking a particular action. 

The Need for Robust Data

To enable this level of personalization, marketers need the right data. This data should provide actionable insights into their market and a detailed understanding of the behavior of their primary targets. Marketers can then employ a variety of methods to engage those targets, track performance, and optimize outreach strategies. 

There are three main stages of data usage: 

  • Interpretation: The first stage is about using your data to build an understanding of your prospective patients. What do you know about them? What do you know about your target audience? 

  • Activation: The second stage involves how you will use the data to increase your engagement with prospective patients. Based on the information you know about your patients, what will you do to change how you interact with them? How will you find them? How will you put messaging in front of them?

  • Collection: Finally, you need to consistently measure and optimize your performance when it comes to data usage. Are you doing a good job of collecting data? Is your data actionable?

5 Steps to Acquire New Patients

It’s clear that both the marketing team and robust data play a paramount role in modern-day patient acquisition. Let’s break down key steps to put an acquisition strategy into motion. 

1. Develop a clear picture of consumer demand

The first step is to work out where and what the consumer demand is in your sector. To find this out, you might look into search volume estimates or make predictions on future demand or market growth. 

With a clear picture of consumer demand, you can make smarter decisions and ensure that your marketing dollar is spent as efficiently as possible. 

For example, you will be able to develop unique buyer personas for the target segments which are most likely to convert, enabling you to deliver highly targeted content. 

2. Understand how consumers search 

A consumer journey may start with Google, but quickly encompass a range of websites and online resources. Developing a clear picture of consumer demand can enable you to create a strategy that reaches consumers wherever they are on the web and in their patient journey. 

One method is to ensure that you are appearing at the top of different search engine results pages (SERPs) by developing high-quality content based on search volumes. 

It’s also vital that you’re “always-on”. If your campaigns are sporadic and there are periods where you have no content or advertisements live, you will effectively be handing customers to your competitors. 

3. Create a balanced approach of channels and tactics

Establishing a blend of channels (for example, programmatic ad buying, paid search, and social media) is essential to reach your consumers. With a thorough understanding of how consumers are searching, you can put advertisements and calls-to-action (CTAs) in front of them, wherever they are searching. 

Every missed opportunity is a gap that your competitors can exploit to target your audience. With a variety of channels, you also raise brand awareness. This means that passive consumers who are less likely to actively seek out care will remember you when they do need your services. 

4. Speak their language

It’s vital that your CTAs are not only strategically placed but also designed well. They need to be relevant and compelling, rather than simply visible. 

To excel here, your CTA should be direct and clear. Whatever you want the consumer to do next, whether it’s scheduling an appointment or making a call, you need to use an easy-to-understand and relevant CTA that will push them to take that action. 

To ensure that your CTA fills this requirement, you should A/B test multiple CTAs and find out which is the most optimal. The better the CTA, the higher acquisition rates you will see. 

5. Track your new patient KPIs 

During and after your campaigns, the only way to ensure that each is running as optimally as possible is to track your KPIs. The most important measure of success for patient acquisition is conversions. 

Some examples of conversion metrics that you can track include:

  • Scheduled appointments

  • Phone calls

Your tracking should provide insights into whether your campaigns are aligned with and achieving your overall goals. 

How Mercury Healthcare Can Help

Is your organization maximizing your patient engagement efforts? We can help healthcare organizations of every size take advantage of actionable insights to get more patients in the door.

Mercury Edge is a new patient digital acquisition solution that employs data-driven targeting of those consumers with the highest probability of converting. We’ll take the guesswork out of patient acquisition to deliver guaranteed growth for your high-value service lines, all while reducing upfront marketing costs.

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