Building an online presence and using patient engagement tools can help orthopedic practices and ASCs attract and retain patients, according to Daniel Chan, MD.
Dr. Chan, the medical director of joint replacements at the Cypress Creek Outpatient Surgical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., discussed how this technology can boost patient volume on the “Becker’s Healthcare Spine and Orthopedic Podcast.”
This is an edited excerpt. Listen to the full episode here.
Question: What are some of the most interesting new technologies and platforms you are seeing in the industry today?
Dr. Daniel Chan: Orthopedics is probably the most direct-to-patient-consumer, marketing-driven specialty out there. So I can tell you that 90 percent of my patients find me online either through Google, Healthgrades, my website or patient reviews. The traditional conventional wisdom was, “Well, joint replacement patients are typically older and not as technology savvy,” and that’s absolutely not true. Even if the patients themselves are not particularly internet savvy, their children or relatives are. I’ve had numerous patients come to my office simply because their family members from out of state found me online and recommended they come see me. Physicians and the ASCs need to be very aggressive in that space, whether it be search engine optimization [or] other platforms to get patient reviews online and to drive that direct-to-patient volume to your doors.
In joint replacement, we utilize computer navigation for hyper replacement procedures. We do that in the hospital as well, but it’s definitely something that attracts patients. We’re soon going to be adding a robotic knee solution to our surgery center. Obviously, things are much more price sensitive, so we need to make the dollars work there, but we’re getting close. So that’ll also give patients the latest and greatest technologies to improve outcomes and satisfaction in the ASC as if they were having that same procedure done in the hospital. One other thing that I think is showing a lot of promise and is something that we’re going to look into is some of these solutions that offer management of the entire patient experience — these patient engagement tools. So the patient, the ASC, the physician office, all can communicate seamlessly so that the patient experiences this kind of uniform episode of care from initial consultation to well into their postoperative recovery.
Q: What advice would you have for an orthopedic surgeon who wants to build a more robust presence online and make sure they can stay on top of the consumer trends going forward?
DC: I would say what I do is by no means robust. I do it mostly myself. You can certainly hire companies to do it for you, but I think the very first thing you have to do is take ownership of all your online profiles. So that includes Google, Healthgrades, Vitals, Facebook, if you want to start a professional Instagram or Twitter account, that way you can post relevant content that will also organically drive up your results in Google.
If I see a patient in the office postoperatively and they’re doing great, I send them a very personalized email saying, “Thank you for coming in. I’m glad to see you’re doing really well after your hip or knee replacements.” Then I send them direct links to the rating websites for Google, Facebook, Healthgrades, Vitals, and I encourage them to leave positive feedback and that’s been very successful. Again, most of the patients that end up coming to me for elective surgery found me not because of their primary care physician referrals. It’s because they found me online and they liked what they read in the reviews. And I encourage patients not just to post a five-star review but to explain in detail the experience so other patients can know what it’s like to go through that same process. When other prospective patients see they’re being cared for at multiple touchpoints, I think it’s a very compelling story. We’ve been very successful in recruiting patients that way. Even though I’m not a 100 percent hip and knee replacement surgeon — I’m actually an orthopedic trauma surgeon — but through these various portals I’ve become very busy and probably do more hip and knee replacements than the vast majority of dedicated full-time hip and knee surgeons in the south Florida area.