Last December, ImagingBiz reported WellPoint’s decision to cover low-dose CT scans for lung cancer screening in people age 55 to 74 who have smoked for 30 years or more.
The insurer's decision was based on new research from the federally-funded National Lung Screening Trial that found screening current and former heavy smokers with low-dose CT scans was tied to a 20% reduction in lung-cancer deaths.
The news was a breakthrough in the typical process of coverage, yet, few imaging facilities chose to take advantage of the development.
One of the few exceptions was Atlantic Medical Imaging (AMI), which has eight locations in and around its main office in Galloway, NJ. Shortly after the news, AMI sponsored a newspaper editorial in a community paper that also publishes online. The story was about the new low-dose recommendation and included this sentence: “AMI is one of a select few imaging practices nation-wide to offer this state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging.”
With this story, AMI set an example of how to capitalize on the steady flow of medical imaging news that is reported across the country. To some, their move may seem exploitative and contrary to the belief medical imaging facilities should not be involved in promoting their services when opportunities arise.
That type of thinking is not only outdated, it is detrimental to the long-term health of the enterprise. Today, you must not only move out of your comfort zone and market unique services when the opportunity arises, you must go one step further and create those promotions even when there is no external influence such as the low-dose CT story.
To some readers, even the use of the words “marketing” and “promotions” is abhorrent, as though medical imaging is above all that. But marketing a service such as low-dose CT does not mean hanging a neon sign in the window or placing sign spinners (technically called “human directionals”) at key street corners. It does mean that your two main target audiences, referrers and patients, should be the beneficiaries of marketing plans designed to educate them.
The marketing plans are key. Without them, your effort is just like throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks.
And speaking of sticking, there is more to AMI’s effort: Nine months later, the news of their low-dose services can still be found on their home page. Why has it been there so long? Because their potential patients are still evolving and new ones are searching for such services everyday.
Tactically, there should be someone in your organization whose job description includes a weekly review of medical imaging news and who has the ability to translate that news into a marketing opportunity. Without that process, you may miss dozens of low-cost, high return chances to tastefully grow your business.
With over 25 years of marketing experience — nine years as a former Vice President of Marketing for a leading healthcare marketing company — Steve Smith has consistently developed effective strategies to help fuel the growth of countless healthcare enterprises. Since 2007, he has specialized as a marketing and business development consultant to medical imaging facilities nationwide. Mr. Smith has been a featured speaker at imaging conferences and is a former member of the marketing subcommittee of the Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA). He has contributed marketing articles to numerous healthcare publications, including Physician’s Money Digest, Radiology Business Journal and more. Mr. Smith is the creator of “Ten Seconds to Great Customer Service™,” a medical imaging training program that provides easy-to-use tactical customer service support to staff.