How Trump’s wall has increased spine surgery patients 30x for one Arizona practice

You’re probably thinking how on earth does building a wall along the southern US border increase spine surgery patients by 30 times? Is it from worker’s compensation claims from on the job injuries or has the building of the wall stopped medical tourism to Mexico and Central America, creating more demand for US spine clinics? Is it the combination of the two or is this another fake news story?

Ok don’t be mad at me for misleading you with this article’s headline, it’s not fake news. I’m about to offer some content marketing advice that I have used to get more exposure for my clients than the run-of-the-mill  “back pain treatments” & “diets for back pain” posts typically receive.

“Smart Content” Marketing

Trump’s wall hasn’t increased spine surgery patients 30x for any practice I am aware of, but tying or weaving current news headlines into something relevant for your patients is a smart way to become relevant. We call it “Smart Content”.

Smart content has the potential to:

  • Improve Click through rates (CTRs)
  • Increase web site visits
  • Position your practice or surgeon as a subject matter expert
  • Create viral content

Tiger Woods & Back Surgery

For example take the recent news of Tiger Woods coming in second place (-9 par) at Innisbrook in last week’s PGA tournament and the fact that he has had multiple spine surgeries (four actually). A smart spine marketer might write an article about how Tiger Woods has “Got his game back” after having 4 back surgeries with his last one just about one year ago.  A pretty amazing feat considering healthy PGA golfers without back problems didn’t do as well. Additionally, a surgeon could very easily create a video explaining the procedure Tiger had and the recovery process, then post it on Youtube, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

You’re probably thinking, yeah there are probably a bunch of spine marketers already doing this type of content writing, but you’d be surprised! A quick Google search on the term “Tiger Woods back surgery” shows us that there is only one spine clinic on the first page of Google (see highlighted below).




And it’s not until page 3 of Google SERPs that you see another spine related website. In addition, no paid search ads appear in my area (Atlanta), which is another opportunity. Dr. Andrew Hecht, interviewed by the Golf Channel, did do a great job of shedding light on Tiger Woods procedures in a video interview on Golf Central. If I’m considering back surgery and I hear that Tiger Woods had four of them, I am doing research on his procedure and the doctor who performed it.

Using Current News for Medical Practice Content Marketing

As you can see there is a lot of opportunity to use “Smart Content” to create interesting and sharable content using recent news headlines and sports stories to market your surgeon, Orthopedic or spine practice. Use it on your website and across social media on sites like Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook. It’s also great PR for spine surgeons who discuss procedures that famous athletes have had (think Payton Manning cervical fusion).

Just a few more examples of news stories that could be weaved into the services your practice offers or videos presented by a specialist:

  • Concussions from sports injuries (CTEs)
  • Elizabeth Warren DNA (Pharmacogenetic testing)
  • Andy Murray hip surgery
  • Idaho Gov. Butch Otter (infection after spine surgery)

If you’re looking for creative ways to market your orthopedic or spine specialty practice and want to stand out in a crowd, using smart content should be part of your strategy. Interested in learning what else you should be doing?

Contact us for a free practice marketing review. Call me directly at 678-825-5838 to schedule an appointment.

Thanks for reading! We appreciate your comments, thoughts, and experiences.

3 hidden costs of changing out an EMR

With the recent news of Practice Fusion, formerly a free electronic medical records system (EMR) software used by thousands of physicians, being acquired by Allscripts, also a popular EMR system, “FREE” is coming to an end.

Starting this summer free goes by the wayside as the San Francisco-based vendor will offer its platform to physicians on a subscription basis at $100 per month.

The CEO of CareCloud, a rival of Practice Fusion, told CNBC recently that the fee structure change could be a win for other EMR vendors in the independent practice space. CareCloud’s Ken Comee is quoted in an interview by CNBC stating, “Maintaining the customer base could be a challenge because they’re charging for something that was once free,” he said. “It might encourage doctors to evaluate their options.”

As someone who has worked in a practice for over a decade before starting my own Digital marketing and healthcare technology consulting firm, I have experienced a multitude of system swap outs. From Websites to EMRs to medical CRMs to email automation platforms, I can attest first hand that there are at least 3 things that may make a practice think twice before “forklifting” out a system their practice depends upon.

Consideration #1: it may be more cost effective to keep your current system

A practice will probably end up running the old system in parallel with the new system for several years. Migrations from an old system to a new system can be complex and more expensive than maintaining the old system (record retention periods). Better safe than sorry, so leave the old system online just in case…..

In the case of Practice Fusion and their fee increase, $100 per month for a system that works and your staff is trained to use makes more sense than paying for two systems, the old and the new.

Consideration #2: Dedicate a resource to managing your system

I have yet to speak with a practice that loves their EMR system. In fact, most practices I have worked with hate their EMR and experience the same issues:

  • Data integrity (usually involves non-standardized data entry)
  • Legacy employees/Doctor owners refusing to use EMR
  • Lack of training and/or half implemented systems

This happens because practices are so busy seeing patients and implementing a system like an EMR is very complicated, time consuming and expensive. If the project doesn’t have buy-in from management and an executive sponsor, those responsible for implementing the system on the practice side grow weary as some EMR implementations can take years!

Consideration #3: Expect a hit in Productivity

Productivity as well as revenue may be negatively impacted during and after a swap-out. Whether small or large, organizations must know (estimate) how long the system migration will take, what the data migration process looks like, and the long-term financial impact of the switch. Don’t forget to look at vendor contracts, there could be an unexpected early termination penalty.

Whether you’re a small private owned orthopedic practice or a large hospital considering changing out an EMR is a major business decision and should be thought through and examined carefully.

Final Thoughts

In general, I think the lesson is that this is a very volatile time in healthcare from all sides. From a software perspective you have a lot of vendors that are looking to make quick money and a lot of practices that need to do serious work, and that’s a problem.

At the end of the day, software salespeople want to sell and go, and it’s a real problem because it causes organizations to run into issues related to the goals of the software company vs. the goals of the practice.

Have you made the switch? Share your experience in the comments! – We are digital marketing and healthcare technology consultants focusing on acquiring patients and creating operation efficiencies for healthcare organizations. Want to learn more? Contact us for a free technology and marketing assessment!