The ideal destination to physician practice marketing is to have a balance of patient flow from a variety of sources. Medingenuity has database-driven referral development systems that feature a database of more than 2,000 potential physician referral sources that are specific to the specialty center. This can also include health insurance entities and work comp case managers if workers compensation is a lucrative payor in the state.
While direct to consumer healthcare marketing is essential (explained in detail below) we always recommend consistent communication to referral sources. That is because some health insurance plans may require patients to have a referral to a specialist.
Secondly, depending upon the state, workers compensation patients may reimburse at a higher rate than commercial insurance payors or government payors.
For those specialty categories where patients can self-diagnose their problem (back pain, neck pain, knee pain, hip pain, foot pain, orthopedics, urological symptoms, eye problems, age management, etc.) direct-to-consumer communication can effectively steer patients around the PCP to directly access the specialist. This can improve care as treatment is more specialized and less protracted by unnecessary diagnostic tests, excessive prescriptions of inappropriate meds or a well-intended but counter productive treatments.
The reason direct-to-consumer marketing for healthcare is a key strategy is because hospitals now use a strategy of employing primary care physicians (family practice and internal medicine) and then linking their compensation via bonuses and compensation plan structure to downstream specialist revenues at the hospital. Consequently, the primary care doctor can have a financial incentive to refer to their campus specialist in orthopedics, eye care, heart care, etc. regardless if that specialist is the most qualified in the geographic region.
By setting up communication — ad campaigns in newspaper or broadcast media or Facebook ad campaigns — the specialist can then communicate their capabilities directly to the consumer who then bypasses the primary care physician snare.
Consumers today not only are more educated on the health issue they are facing, and can find going to a generalist a waste of time and money that they have to pay out of their deductible or co-pay. For example, going to a family practice doctor for issues related to knee pain or other orthopedic problems, is typically not as beneficial as going to the knee specialist from the start.
Consequently, Medingenuity recommends specialists to communicate to referral sources, but recognize that there is a higher return on investment for efforts that communicate directly to the prospective patient.