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You've adapted to orthopedic consumerism. But does your consumerism strategy really reflect patients' care preferences?

February 27, 2020

    The rise of consumerism is nothing new. Yet in orthopedic care, the urgency for your program to adopt a consumer-focused mindset has never been greater—35% of orthopedic patients self-refer.

    How to create a consumer-focused digital strategy

    By now, you've likely made changes to your orthopedic program to respond to growing consumerism: Perhaps you market your clinical quality performance on your website, or you highlight your program's Joint Commission accreditation to prospective patients.

    You're heading in the right direction. But do these actions reflect what consumers are looking for when shopping for orthopedic care? Indeed, many providers continue to operate under a primary care provider (PCP)-based referral strategy, despite rising consumer ownership of the orthopedic referral process. To protect your volumes, you must put consumer-specific care preferences—not just PCP preferences—at the forefront of your orthopedic referral strategy. Here are two tactics to help you do it:

    1. Hardwire patients' desire for care coordination into your program design

    While PCPs prefer providers who involve them in care management and offer specialized access to reduce wait times, orthopedic consumers pursue programs that offer coordinated care in the form of support, education, and navigation. In fact, we found that patient experience is a top consumer priority, along with quality, in our recent orthopedic consumer survey.

    Care coordination that differentiates your patient experience must therefore be at the forefront of your value proposition. One way to do this is by employing patient navigators who answer patient questions and schedule their post-acute care. And the benefit of navigation is twofold: In addition to improving the patient experience, it also can secure patients' downstream revenue by making it easier for them to stay with your system than defect to a competitor.

    Orthopedic consumers seek this navigation and support from the outset of their care experience, meaning your coordination efforts must span the entire care continuum, beginning with accessible patient education. The Hospital for Special Surgery, for example, complements web-based educational resources with daily joint and spine surgery patient classes, and even offers weekly webinars for patients who cannot make it to their facility for class.

    2. Market your quality in terms patients—not just PCPs—understand and value

    Once patients identify providers in their network, quality is top-of-mind for consumers and referring PCPs alike—but each stakeholder sees quality differently. While PCPs see it as advanced accreditations and top scores in highly clinical metrics like post-surgical knee flexion, consumers see quality in terms closer to their personal experience, such as how long post-surgery until they can return to sports or climb stairs.

    This means your direct-to-consumer quality marketing must be centered more around the patient experience than your quality marketing to PCPs. Case in point: Summit Orthopedics focuses its quality marketing on its website around the effect its quality performance will have on patients' lifestyle, such as the percentage of patients who can shop or bathe easily six months after knee surgery.


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