How to Map Your True Hospital Marketing Area
3. Addresses of Specialists/Surgeons by Service Line
Non-emergency specialist patients arrive in one of two ways: a referral from a PCP (Primary Care Physician) to that specialist, or a direct-referral where a consumer makes an appointment with the specialist without a gatekeeper. Let’s say you have shoulder pain, you may see your PCP who will order X-rays or other tests, provide a preliminary diagnosis and refer you to a specialist who will review the results and discuss options. Or if you have PPO/self-pay coverage, you may decide to go directly to an orthopedic specialist you’ve looked up online. In both cases the specialist will make a recommendation for the procedure and facility. By mapping specialist locations and comparing it to the patient map for the same service line, you’ll see if there are areas where you could geographically zone your marketing tactics and be able to assess the feasibility of certain business development tactics to stimulate more activity from those specialists.
4. Addresses of Primary Care Practices From Affiliated Medical Groups/Foundations
PCPs are the beginning of your service line patient funnel. Typically, a PCP will refer to specialists within the same medical group network as the PCP. It’s in your best interest for PCP practices to grow and see a high volume of general patients. Some percentage of those patients will need service line procedures over time. Laws on the relationship between physicians and hospitals vary by state, so be sure you understand those regulations when developing your provider directory. In many cases you will need to include PCPs who are not exclusive to your affiliated medical groups. That’s OK. In this scenario, you help PCPs attract new patients while simultaneously creating networking opportunities between PCPs and your high-volume specialists to build relationships and referrals.
Now, a few tips to get you on your way:
Creating HIPAA-compliant patient maps
HIPAA compliant patient mapping is about ensuring a dot cannot be connected to a specific household. So even though you map based on an address, the resulting visual should be ‘zoomed out’ such that household level interpretations are not possible and the map’s data set is not linked to the visual. Delete the data file once the map is produced. And there’s a few other ‘fire walls’ to build in. When requesting data internally, do not accept anything other than the bare essentials needed for mapping (no names, apartment numbers, phone numbers, medical record numbers, diagnosis, etc.). Be sure the file name for the data is not ‘self-explanatory.’ Do not email the file outside your internal system, unless via secure email or secure FTP and only with entities covered by a Business Associates Agreement. Ideally, do all mapping internally and only send out the de-identified map visual for large format printing.
If your finance, strategic planning or business development groups do not have mapping software, there are various desktop packages you can download and use. Some of these have free trial periods: Maptitude, ArcGIS from ESRI, and Alteryx.
By seeing your true hospital marketing area, you can be a better, more strategic marketer.
Michael Crawford became interested in healthcare listening to the conversations around the patio table as his parents and their colleagues talked about work. For the past 30 years he's used his marketing expertise to help medical groups, hospitals and health systems connect with consumers, physicians, employers, brokers and health plans. He advocates for a strategic approach to marketing, audience-based communications, coordination between marketing and customer service functions, and early inclusion of the marketing discipline when planning services. His work has earned more than a dozen awards over the past few years. He’s no stranger to healthcare reorganizations or healthcare reform, from the failed effort during the 90s to the implementation of the ACA to today’s efforts at repeal. His blog, Healthcare Marketing Survival Guide, offers advice for B2C and B2B healthcare marketers trying to chart their course during uncertain times. Connect with him via LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @health_crawford.