The 3 Most Effective Marketing Strategies for Orthopaedic Urgent Care

Over the past several months, we have seen a noticeable increase in orthopaedic practices adding an urgent care component to their existing practices. This is presumably the result of the ubiquity of urgent care centers and seeing them springing up in shopping centers and storefront locations. There is no denying the convenience of urgent care centers, and practices must also see them as a legitimate stakeholder in the patient referral paradigm. If your practice is considering an orthopaedic urgent care option, proper planning and messaging is essential to its success.

One of the most important considerations before opening an orthopaedic urgent care is the cost analysis. Namely, how will the practice offset the additional hours and staff needed to keep the location open on evening and weekends while only collecting the specialist visit co-pay/reimbursement from insurers?

The most important element to success in an orthopaedic urgent care venture is to make sure it does not serve solely as an ancillary to your existing patients, but a mechanism for capturing new patients into the practice. Just as large hospital and health systems utilize affiliated primary care physicians and urgent care centers to upstream referrals to specialists, the same should be true for orthopaedic urgent care. A patient who comes into the orthopaedic urgent care may only have a simple sprain or, in other cases, may have a meniscus tear that requires surgery. In either instance, your practice is now directing their care path and referring the patient to your orthopaedic surgeons, if needed.

The second most important element is the marketing and awareness building of the orthopaedic urgent care. Too often practices add a page to their current website mentioning the extended hours. However, this is not enough to create a sustainable flow of new patients. The orthopaedic urgent care must have its own identity, meaning its own branding, website, social media presence, etc. The reason for this is that no one needs orthopaedic urgent care until they injure themselves, or their child is injured, or they do not want to wait two weeks for an appointment to find out what is wrong with their knee. This is why awareness building should be the focus of your marketing and will ensure that your orthopaedic urgent care is top of mind when someone needs it.

Below are three effective tools for marketing your orthopedic urgent care.
  1. Social Media Marketing
    Social Media is the most effective awareness-building tool a practice can utilize. The most desirable demographic for orthopaedic urgent care patients, adults 35-60, are the second most active age group on social media and spend up to four hours per day on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Using content and video, coupled with audience targeting, will quickly let those in your target locations and age groups see the services offered and the advantages over general urgent care and the ER.

    For instance, Facebook and Instagram ads that focus on sports injuries or overuse injuries can be targeted to different audiences to match their interests. Certain ads may target mothers whose adolescent children play sports; other ads may target the "weekend warrior," etc. All of these ads are served to the proper audience with the proper messaging so, when an injury does occur, they are familiar with your brand and know that you can treat a specific injury.

  2. Google AdWords
    Google AdWords can be a useful tool to drive patients as almost 80% of patients turn to the internet when looking for medical services. However, a Google AdWords campaign can be a bit more complex for orthopaedic urgent care as the search terms in which your practice should be showing ads requires more intensive planning. For instance, when someone Googles "urgent care near me," your instinct may be to show an ad. But, this can quickly drain your budget and result in a large amount of wasted clicks as the patient may be looking for a general urgent care to treat a cold, flu, burn or other non-orthopaedic injury. The phrase "urgent care" does not give us enough insight into the patientís particular condition for it to be worthwhile to serve an ad. Secondarily, the phrase "orthopaedic urgent care" has a low search volume as the concept is new to most patients and is not something they are actively searching for.

    Instead, it is best to use conditional search phrases that tell us more about the patient's condition and if orthopaedic urgent care is appropriate. For instance, "sprained ankle urgent care" or "same day orthopaedic appointment" or "shoulder pain evaluation." The last thing to keep in mind is if your main practice is already utilizing Google AdWords, it is best not to use the same keywords for both the main practice and the orthopaedic urgent care, as they will compete with each other. Consider scheduling the ads at different times of the day or having separate keyword lists for each

  3. Community Sponsorships
    In most instances, patients will travel no more than 20-30 minutes for an orthopaedic urgent care, which is why being involved in community sponsorships is imperative. Local sponsorships need to extend beyond sponsoring the local youth sports teams and extend into things such as tie-ins with sports training facilities, street fairs, corporate events and charity walks and 5Ks.

    The goal is to create awareness among those who are active and thus more likely to need your services. One of the most beneficial integrations comes from local gyms and fitness facilities, since many of the members can experience strains or sprains after an intense workout or an after getting back to the gym after an extended period of time away. If you are approaching gyms and fitness facilities make sure that your messaging is consistent with the facilities' messaging and offers your services as a benefit to its members.
Daniel Goldberg is the CEO and Creative Director of Gold Medical Marketing, a full service Medical Marketing and Public Relations company focused specifically on Orthopedic and Spine Surgery practices. Daniel has been recognized as a leader in Direct to Patient Marketing strategy and has lectured both nationally and internationally on the topic of Orthopedic Practice Marketing.