Marketers in New Jersey were about to develop a strategic plan for the hospital's orthopedic service line and expected a portion of the effort would focus on spine procedures. But that was before they talked to an orthopedic surgeon.
"It was great to be able to talk to the surgeon because his feedback was that more spine surgery is happening in ambulatory and outpatient settings, which financially changes the dynamic of the hospital for spine procedures," says Gabrielle DeTora, healthcare marketing consultant. "We otherwise might have originally planned to promote spine procedures, but this insight allowed us to set the right plan for that institution."
Healthcare marketers have long been going to physicians for advice for marketing certain service lines and clinical technology, but only recently have marketers begun to see physicians as valuable partners in the strategic planning process.
"Physician input is extremely important at Cooper," says Jill Lawlor, vice president of marketing and community outreach at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, NJ. "We have marketing managers for all major service lines and these managers communicate with the chiefs and division heads on a daily basis. We hold bimonthly meetings with all managers and administrative directors from these service lines so that all marketing is integrated."
DeTora worked with Lawlor and the Cooper marketing team earlier this year on a strategic marketing plan for several service lines, focusing on how they can increase physician referrals.