Cover Story: Doctor, Heal Thyself
"This is a cardiac surgery practice," Bakewell says. "So, again, a very important practice to the health system. And their goal, really, was to stabilize and maintain practice volume. Cardiac surgeons—typically, across the country—have been under enormous pressure over the last three or four years due to declining reimbursement from payers. And due to the fact that a lot of their procedures that were their bread and butter, higher value procedures like bypasses, are being replaced by things like stents and drug therapies. ... So they're kind of getting double whammied."
The practice needed to stabilize the patient: itself.
"They executed five campaigns in the first year," Bakewell says.
After the five mailings—an introductory brochure, an endoscopic vein harvesting procedure profile, a minimally invasive mitral valve replacement profile, an atrial fibrillation procedure profile and a holiday greeting card—the practice saw five new referring physicians.
"A cardiac surgery case is $25,000-plus," Bakewell says. "All in, to the doctor, it can be $5,000 each. So if each of those docs referred two new patients within a year, that's $50,000 to the practice. If, again, you make the same assumption about the $13,000 to $15,000 that they're paying, it's a 4-to-1 ROI. Again, conservatively."
A less tangible, but still real, result for this cardiac practice is that referring doctors are now aware that they can send heart surgery patients to a local hospital, rather than telling them to go to New York or Philadelphia.
"These doctors are nationally known. Nationally renowned. Heavily published. Top schools. Board certified. And they wanted to let referring physicians in their market area know that they're doing very leading-edge procedures," Bakewell says. "They did not need to refer their patients 80 miles away and their families for a traumatic big surgery, multi-day hospital stay. They could just get tremendous care right within their own market."