Despite its many benefits, weight loss surgery remains underutilized. This negatively impacts both patient health and the growth of your practice. To boost surgical volume and ensure that more people get the procedures they need, you should develop a well-thought-out strategy to target bariatric surgery patients.
- Eligible surgery candidates face multiple barriers to accessing the treatment they need, such as a lack of awareness about bariatric procedures and anecdotal safety concerns.
- Misinformation, combined with long lead times and insufficient insurance coverage, can make it hard to increase your surgical volume and grow your business.
- To cut through the noise and reach more potential patients, bariatric practices need to step up their digital marketing efforts.
- Other effective strategies include mapping the customer journey and using data and analytics to understand patients’ needs better, providing five-star service and patient care to encourage word-of-mouth marketing, and sharing success stories of weight loss.
Why You Should Go Out of Your Way to Target Bariatric Surgery Patients
Weight loss surgery typically has a long lead time. It is not uncommon for patients to research the procedure for months or years before mustering the courage to speak with a surgeon. When the patient undergoes the required health evaluations, and their insurer gives the green light, 200+ more days may elapse between the initial appointment and the procedure.
Unfortunately, this is not the only barrier to accessing surgery. A lack of awareness about bariatric procedures, insufficient insurance coverage, anecdotal safety concerns, and preoperative dropout rates – which can be as high as 50% – also come into play.
To increase your surgical volume despite these and other barriers, you need a consistent patient acquisition strategy.
5 Ways to Target Bariatric Surgery Patients
Here are five tactics that can help attract and retain bariatric patients:
1. Map the Customer Journey
Each patient is a unique individual with their struggles and health challenges. If you want to attract more patients, you have to meet them where they are in their journey.
This entails creating targeted content addressing various conditions and life situations. You also need materials that speak to each stage of the customer decision-making process: awareness, education, and action. These will help ensure that the right message reaches the right people at the right time.
To better understand the customer journey, pull your website and social media data and identify junctures where visitors drop off. Find out what may be driving potential surgery candidates away and develop customized content that addresses these customers’ specific pain points.
2. Have a Comprehensive Digital Marketing Strategy
Implementing a thorough and consistent digital marketing strategy is the most effective way to target bariatric surgery patients and widen your reach. At a minimum, your strategy should include the following:
- A professional-looking website: Your practice website must be modern, well-designed, and user-friendly. Use approachable and easy-to-understand language, avoid medical jargon, and ensure that the site navigation is intuitive and enables visitors to find the information they need quickly.
- A strong social media presence: Social media is a powerful driver of patient engagement and customer conversion. 57% of consumers follow brands to learn about new products or services, and 89% buy from brands they follow on social media. To maximize the impact of your social media presence, focus on two to three channels and post targeted high-quality content daily.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): All your online content, including your website, blog, and social media, must be SEO-optimized. This helps boost organic traffic or traffic due to your content appearing in results in Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines, as opposed to paid traffic due to advertising.
- Digital advertising: Set aside some of your marketing budget for online advertising, such as search engine marketing (SEM), pay-per-click (PPC), social media ads, and email marketing.
- Create gated digital assets: Develop eBooks, white papers, comparison guides, cheat sheets, and other informational materials and make them available to prospective patients in exchange for giving their email addresses or signing up for your practice newsletter.
Developing and implementing a comprehensive digital marketing strategy requires time and expert knowledge. For best results, consider partnering with a healthcare digital marketing agency.
3. Leverage Data and Analytics to Better Understand Your Customers
Big data and analytics hold a lot of untapped potential for improving the bariatric patient journey, from helping you attract more surgery candidates to enabling more efficient scheduling and improved health outcomes.
Sources of patient data include:
- Patient portals
- Personal Health Records (PHRs)
- Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
- Smartphone apps
- Patient-Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs)
- Lead tracking and patient conversion systems
- Care automation software like Wellbe’s ConnectedCare™ platform
4. Build Trust to Encourage Word of Mouth Marketing
Patients overwhelmingly rely on recommendations from friends and family and online reviews when choosing healthcare providers: 71% of consumers consult review websites as the first step to finding a new physician.
What this means is that, in addition to stepping up your marketing efforts, you should work hard to build a five-star reputation by positioning your practice as a thought leader and providing exceptional service and patient care.
5. Embrace Storytelling
Personal testimonials and real-life weight loss stories are powerful motivators in bariatric marketing. Turn successful patients into your biggest advocates by inviting them to share their inspiring journeys in print and digital media and offline events like seminars. This helps demystify bariatric surgery and enables you to connect with potential patients on an emotional level.
Use ConnectedCare™ to Target Bariatric Surgery Patients
Wellbe’s ConnectedCare™ is a personalized care automation platform that empowers you to deliver frictionless bariatric journeys. By automating patient education and repetitive tasks like form collection, you free your team to spend more time on care, customer service, and patient acquisition.
The numbers speak for themselves: Providers who use ConnectedCare™ report 88% growth in patient satisfaction and 48% increase in monthly initial consults.
To learn more and find out how ConnectedCare™ can transform your practice, get in touch with our team today.