The Best Marketing Practice You're Probably Doing Wrong
In the realm of best marketing practices in medical imaging, one may assume that the most successful enterprises are doing everything – or almost everything – right. “Successful,” though, is a relative term. Volume is no longer equated with profitability and even those facilities, whether an IDTF or a regional or national chain, with appropriate investments in marketing are finding that the going is getting tougher. It is a wonder, then, why the simplest of marketing efforts still has not taken root in medical imaging the way it has in almost every other profession or industry. The case in point is the search engine optimization (SEO) of the company’s website. Optimizing a website is one of the easiest ways to develop a brand, to attract patient and professional inquiries and also to support a patient or physician decision to choose you over another facility. Websites are now first or second on the list of resources for people to choose you. Optimization does not have to be contracted out, though many times it is, and requires far less time and investment than other marketing efforts, but with a potential return on investment far greater than advertisements, brochures, TV or radio. Yet, medical imaging gets a very generous grade of “C.” Of the top 20 medical imaging chains in 2011, as identified by, nine of them, or 45%, do not have a single press release, news item or internal announcement posted in 2012. Even worse, their websites do not have a page for news items, so even if they did issue a press release or try to regularly freshen their website, there is no place to put the news. The website for a tenth could not be accessed, even after multiple attempts through two browsers. It should come as no surprise that the top two chains, RadNet and HCA, averaged at least three updates per month thus far in 2012. Their success and the maintenance of the relevance of their websites is not a coincidence. The winner in the newsroom update category, however, is Community Health System of Franklin, Tenn., which has posted a whopping 31 press releases or updates through the end of April. Community Health ranked 11th in the survey. If you want to see how it’s done; if you want to see the best practices without having to surf 20 websites, visit the site for Trinity Health, number 20 on the list. Trinity is based in Novi, Mich., and boasts a “…network of 49 acute-care hospitals, 432 outpatient facilities, 32 long-term care facilities, and numerous home health offices and hospice programs in ten states…” Though Trinity’s news activity has averaged only one new entry per month in 2012, it is the other SEO features of the website that make it special. The home page has a “newsroom” button which reveals a drop down menu accessing:
  • news releases
  • RSS news feed
  • news coverage (where Trinity has appeared in the media)
  • hospital news
  • public policy
  • download library
  • bios
  • media contacts
In other words, almost everything that a media representative needs to facilitate coverage of Trinity is on the website. And all of this is dynamic, that is, it changes as often as possible, which helps improve its organic search rankings. Any medical imaging enterprise that is not operating at or near capacity, whether it is a chain or an independent, is probably not paying enough attention to its website and the easy opportunities to make it more relevant to all visitors.
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.