As the global life expectancy increases, the prevalence of age-related health problems also increases; in the UK, the proportion of elderly people in the overall hospital population surged by over two-thirds in ten years.  Many elderly people live for years or decades with chronic diseases or health complications.  Simply put, this demographic stands to benefit immensely from the availability and approachability of hospitals and other providers of valuable healthcare services; whether compensation for these services comes in the form of private or family funds, personal insurance, or public safety nets like Medicare, this demographic will constitute a significant and growing revenue stream for any hospital.

For this reason, we have instituted a service line of emergency rooms geared specifically towards complications commonly experienced by the elderly population, modeled on the senior care facility at St. Joseph Mercy in Ann Arbor.  It is a distinct model, designed not just for mobility and comfort, but also to limit falls as well: the facility features handrails, non-skid floors, soft lighting, and large readable clocks.  In addition to doctors with a strong background in gerontology, our nurses received specialized training designed to facilitate accurate patient assessments and identify potential drug interactions for this unique population.

In order to promote this valuable new service, we have identified four referral sources on which we will focus our marketing efforts.

The first source is obvious: nursing homes.  These facilities are often equipped to care for patients’ chronic, diagnosed disorders, but not additional complications.  When such complications arise, 911 is a first resource; we would like them to inform the ambulance service that our senior ER is their preferred location for definitive patient care.  Because there is a limited number of nursing homes in our service area, we have the opportunity to make highly targeted, personalized sales pitches.  First, we will use direct mailings to familiarize the staff and residents at local nursing homes about this exciting new service.  Next, we will have a representative visiting each home to introduce themselves, provide information about the service, offer answers to any questions, and generally serve as an approachable contact for the nursing home.  This personalized approach will have a much more pronounced impact than other, more generic advertising mediums.

Next, we will use a similar strategy to target local ambulance services directly.  Because of our ability to provide a higher standard of emergency care to our demographic, it would be ideal for all parties, if they preferentially transported elderly patients to our facility when logistically feasible.

This face-to-face strategy will be repeated, finally, with primary care physicians.  We will ensure that they have informational materials pass along to elderly patients and their families about our specialized services, so that in the event of medical emergency, we come quickly to mind as a high-quality care facility recommended by a familiar and trusted medical professional.

Our last referral service will be our potential patients and their families.  We will use targeted pay-per-click advertising through platforms like Facebook Ads and Google Adwords to target our demographic:  when somebody searches for a nursing home, for example, our sponsored ad will appear at the top of the results.  Clicking this ad will take the customer to our new, user-friendly website.  This will be an effective strategy for two reasons:  first, the Internet is becoming a preferred method for finding and comparing services.  Second, it will provide a very cost-effective platform that will allow us to closely analyze various features of our targeted demographics.  By split-testing ads and analyzing demographic click-through-rates on Facebook, and using programs like Google Analytics, we will be able to see what proportion of referrals comes from our patients, and what proportion comes from their families. It will allow us to hone continuously our ads so they are only seen by people most interested in our services, allowing us to implement strategies designed to maximize our return on advertising investment.  Last but not least, we will use this data to optimize our website for search engines, further driving down ad costs, as we increase our clicks from organic search results.

This broad-based strategy will allow us to pinpoint all aspects of the referral process.  We will create a working dynamic with the range of medical professionals, who craft care plans for our demographic: EMT’s, nursing home employees, and primary care physicians.  We will also introduce our services to those most concerned with the quality of the patients’ care: the patients themselves, as well as their families—the groups that will likely initiate a 911 call and perhaps choose the emergency room in the first place.  Fortunately, we are offering a unique and valuable service, so our sales strategy can be soft, friendly, and largely informational.

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