Sales and marketing in diagnostics is an area that has become increasingly challenging and complex. A clear picture of your current situation, your goals, and the path of least resistance to reach those goals is crucial. There’s more to it than making a list of strategies and jumping right in. Trial and error lead to time and money lost unnecessarily.
Radiology Marketing Strategies: Fundamental Planning Steps To Grow an Imaging Center
Most imaging centers have some radiology marketing strategies up their sleeves. However, sales and marketing in diagnostics is an area that has become increasingly challenging and complex. A clear picture of your current situation, your goals, and the path of least resistance to reach those goals is crucial.
There’s more to it than making a list of strategies and jumping right in. Trial and error lead to time and money lost unnecessarily.
Research, data assessment, and patient and provider feedback are the guiding forces behind an effective marketing plan for any imaging center.
Collecting patient feedback after their appointment is industry standard these days, so why not improve your online reviews while you’re at it?
You Can’t Grow an Imaging Center Without Some Information
Gathering information in the following areas will vastly improve any marketing manager’s ability to grow an imaging center. The success of your diagnostic marketing plan and your overall profitability will be driven by this research.
- SWOT Evaluation: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats
- Competition and Market Analysis
- Data Collection From Patients & Providers
- Reassessment & Adjustments
If you’re already on a roll and looking for some quick and effective strategies, check out this article for some simple yet effective additions to your radiology marketing strategies. If you’re looking to set up a big picture plan for long-term sustainable growth, read on.
A lack of initial research leads to an inefficient allocation of resources.
Spend the time now to save weeks or months of effort later. Before enacting your marketing plan, gather data for the following areas.
1. SWOT: Evaluating Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats
Determining your strengths and weaknesses can be as involved as you choose for it to be. Regardless of how detailed you choose to get, note areas you’re already at the top of your game on and where you stand to make the most meaningful improvements.
Performing a detailed SWOT Analysis takes time and effort, but it’s well worth the energy. This will not only help direct your marketing efforts, it will help you budget for what matters most.
Strengths: Pinpoint what sets you apart from your competition
- Do you offer exams which are not available elsewhere in your area?
- Do you have an online referral system or unique integrations for your RIS?
- Do you have equipment that accommodates a specific group of patients?
- Do you offer the lowest self-pay prices in the area?
- Do you offer extended hours of operation?
Weaknesses: Assess areas for improvement
- Are your software systems slow and clunky?
- Is there a group of patients you struggle with assisting?
- Is your website dated and difficult to use?
- Is your location inconvenient for your patients?
Even if you are not able to make improvements to these areas right now, simply knowing where your challenges are will help direct your diagnostic marketing efforts.
Opportunities: Finding areas of need and how you can fulfill those needs.
- Do your strengths put you in a prime position to best perform a specific type of exam?
- Is there a need for a service you provide which you expect to grow in the coming years?
- Are there ways the radiology industry is changing that open new doors for your business?
The next section covers Market Research & Competition Analysis, which will help you target the most valuable opportunities for growth.
Threats: Finding where you are most vulnerable.
- Is a local hospital’s radiology department growing at a rate you can’t compete with?
- Are changes in government policy going to cause hardships for your center?
- Is a larger facility in a nearby area getting referrals that use to be sent to your center?
Identifying threats will help you find how to best protect against them instead of weathering the storm once it arrives.
Even a quick brainstorm style version is better than nothing and you can always make modifications over time as you collect more information.
2. Competition and Radiology Market Analysis
Gathering data by performing a full radiology market analysis and competition assessment is akin to learning who you are up against in a sporting event. If you don’t know how many other players are on the opposing team, their signature plays, or even how many teams you could be competing against, you’re in for a tough game.
Researching your local competition and radiology market size for your area using these steps:
- Gather local market statistics from vendors, independent consultants, medical publications, and databases to determine the greatest need in your area. Strive to learn things like what specialists are most likely to refer for each exam type and how far from your location is too far.
- Assess your current referral data and track changes over time. Integrate a HIPPA compliant reporting tool that integrates with your RIS to build customized dynamic reports you can check anytime. Note your top referring providers’ location, specialty, and practice size. Use this data to assign a current sending score for each provider. This will help you find opportunities for increased referrals and identify physicians who are already referring an ideal number of patients.
- Identify the best new referral opportunities by researching medical providers in the area. If you have a web developer on your team, you may be able to automate this process. Score potential referrers to find those most worth pursuing.
Take these factors into consideration when building your radiology marketing strategies for assessing referral opportunities.
- Practice size
Once you have determined which current and prospective referring providers are most valuable to your facility, you can focus your radiology marketing plan around them. This will ensure your marketing has a well-defined path.
3. Data Collection From Patients & Providers
Getting a clear picture of how you’re perceived by patients and providers may be the most valuable ongoing data you can collect. Strive to constantly assess your progress through:
Patient Satisfaction Surveys can be sent via email, SMS text messages, or as a pre-stamped postcard at the time of the exam. The answers patients give can help you to:
- Understand your strengths and weaknesses from a patient perspective
- Gather more information about patient expectations
- Request online reviews. A crucial part of reputation management
- Reach out to unsatisfied patients to resolve the issue
An imaging center’s patient satisfaction rate is correlated to ratings and reviews, both of which can help you get more patients. Learn more about how to grow an imaging center through effective patient retention strategies. Ensuring patients would choose your center next time around makes a big difference.
Provider Feedback can be collected on an individual basis over the phone, in person, or through email. Ask your referring providers about
- Ease of referral process. Was it quick? Easy? Convenient?
- Exam results. Were the results timely and easy to access? Were the images clear?
- Communication. Was it easy to communicate with our staff? Were you able to get in touch with us easily? Did we answer any questions and adhere to special requests?
- Would you recommend us to another physician? Why or why not?
- What can we improve? The most important question you can ask.
Most likely, your imaging center profitability revolves around your referring providers. Your provider feedback will help you understand what your referring doctors are looking for and how to best meet their needs. It will also let them know you’re striving to make things easier on them and that you respect and value their relationship with your center.
Effectively marketing to physicians for referrals
One strategy rarely employed is email marketing to physicians. This method of gaining referrals requires some planning and research and can produce surprisingly positive results. The key here is finding out what information of value you can offer to referring partners to strengthen your relationship with them.
4. Reassessment & Radiology Marketing Strategy Adjustments
Things change over time, if you’ve planned carefully, it will be for the better. Monitoring your progress through ongoing data collection and assessment is a key component to maintaining your trajectory.
Now that you’ve put the time and thought into the preliminary steps to planning out your approach, you’re off to the races. The work you’ve put into analyzing your business, researching your local market, and collecting data will be invaluable in every marketing tactic you employ. You’ll want to check back in with these items regularly.
Decide how often you will:
- Reassess your data
- Measure your progress
- Make adjustments to your marketing plan
Maybe it’s once a quarter with your whole team, maybe it’s at the end of each month when you’re taking a look at the cash flow, maybe it’s a quick glance each week. Whatever you choose, be diligent and you will get the most out of your radiology marketing strategies to drive your business to success.
Looking to get a leg up by better understanding your local market and competition?