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How to promote & market your expanded lab capabilities

Whether you've recently expanded your in-office lab testing options or are in the process of adding your first point-of-care testing (POCT) capabilities, expanding your healthcare services may lead to better care, greater patient satisfaction and enhanced revenue for your practice.

While sharing news with your existing patients is important, broadening communication to a larger community better positions you to attract new patients seeking particular lab services and additional healthcare services you can provide.

Communicating additional differentiators, such as an easy-to-use appointment scheduler or specialized care, sets your practice apart as you market your lab, attract new patients and provide services to existing patients.

In fact, having a marketing plan to promote new services is key to a successful launch and return on your investment (ROI).

Marketing your lab

Marketing your new lab services to existing patients and prospective new ones may help you grow your practice faster, particularly if you emphasize the convenience and efficiency that in-office testing offers.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer expectations shifted to the point that some patients might drive farther away for in-house testing with immediate results when information is needed urgently. Not only are patients willing to drive farther to get lab tests on-site, but research shows that physician office lab testing supports improved patient satisfaction.

Patients may even switch practitioners for a better experience. Promoting your enhanced capabilities broadly — both online and off — can build greater awareness of your lab services and lead to more tests.

Here are some marketing ideas for improved point-of-care laboratory testing:

Informing your patients

What better place to promote point-of-care testing than at the point of care? Some ways to encourage patients to use your new services include:

  • Placing a sign at your check-in counter
  • Providing a pamphlet or flyer in the waiting room or exam rooms
  • Ensuring all staff mentions your new lab capabilities during patient visits

Sharing news with patients electronically could also help. For example, sending emails to existing patients and updates to patient portals may increase awareness. In addition, invoice stuffers, practice newsletters and appointment reminders can be used to help announce your new services. Emphasize to your patients that upgrading your laboratory capabilities could enhance and refine your treatment recommendations.

Promoting via your website

Building a responsive healthcare website helps attract patients searching online via mobile devices, i.e., smartphones or tablets. A responsive website automatically adjusts the screen size, so the experience is the same regardless of how visitors access your site and generally provides the best mobile digital healthcare experience.1

Other website marketing strategies to consider include:2

  • Announcing your new website services to help drive demand for in-office testing by making more people aware of your expanded capabilities
  • Making your lab services visible — for example, including them on your homepage — can help website visitors find them quickly
  • Optimizing your site by making it visually appealing, quick to load and easy to use can improve the patient experience, making visits to your practice more likely

SEO for better search results

Potential patients search online for healthcare providers more than ever and want to learn more about a new practice before making an appointment. A local search engine optimization (SEO) strategy can help patients visit your website by placing you at the top of online search results.

For example, a common SEO tactic is to include the city name in the title of your website pages and several times on each page so that local visitors are more likely to find your practice. Also, using keywords like "strep test", "respiratory testing", "thyroid test" or "hepatitis" multiple times on a webpage can help your website rank higher in results for searches made by prospective patients.2

Sharing on social media

With four out of ten consumers searching social media for health-related reviews, platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can help put your lab services in front of prospective patients. Regularly posting on your social media accounts can help your services stand out.3

Some tips for promoting your services on social media include:2

  • Posting related topics regularly
  • Sharing images and content related to your practice
  • Interacting with your followers

Videos may also draw attention. Posting videos in which you discuss how a test could help you diagnose and treat a patient may help build trust with potential patients.2

Advertising your services

Advertising may require additional funds to promote your lab services but help build awareness. Though traditional advertising such as ads that run on billboards, television, radio, newspapers and magazines remains popular, you might want to consider whether people who would see, read or listen to your advertisement could become potential patients.

Choosing traditional ads based on the demographics of the people it would reach and prioritizing advertisements targeting your average patient could increase your ROI.1

Today, many healthcare advertisers prioritize online ads to target prospective patients more accurately. For example, you could buy pay-per-click ads that only appear when someone searches for the lab services you offer. Or, you could purchase social media ads that only pop up for people whose demographics and interests match those of typical patients for your in-office testing.

Another factor in helping assess the effectiveness of your ads and your ROI more precisely is your ability to track results from online ads, such as how many people view them or respond, more accurately than you could with traditional ads. You can then adjust your advertising strategy to attract more patients.

Reaching out to the community

If you'd prefer to go the traditional route, there are several options available:

  • Announcing your services through local radio stations, TV channels, magazines or newspapers
  • Sending press releases or emailing a brief announcement to journalists may result in free media coverage
  • Sharing your news in person by giving speeches or presentations to local groups, clubs or business organizations
  • Participating in local health fairs
  • Sponsoring a youth sports team in your community

How are practices expanding point-of-care testing?

Expanding point-of-care testing capabilities is one of the current trends in physician office management because it can support improved care outcomes and patient satisfaction while increasing practice revenue. Promoting your new services may position you to provide more services and attract new patients.

Many practices are transitioning from Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-waived tests to moderately complex lab testing. In these cases, testing needs have changed enough to justify investing in more sophisticated equipment that provides high-quality lab results to patients at their initial point of care.

CLIA moderately complex tests include clinical chemistries such as comprehensive metabolic panels, liver function panels, kidney function panels and electrolyte panels. Other standard CLIA non-waived tests include thyroid tests, cancer markers and tests for various infection diseases like HIV and hepatitis.

In addition, molecular testing is now available in the physician office laboratory setting, featuring robust CLIA waived test menus for flu/strep/RSV combo testing and women's health/sexual health.

Upgrading your lab requires careful planning and a significant commitment of resources. Consider factors like which testing your practice would offer, and then determine which equipment you would need to provide these tests in your practice.

How to run a laboratory: The primary care physician's guide to expanding your practice with point-of-care testing >

Emphasizing your differences to stand apart

With many physicians to choose from, patients are more likely to pick one that stands out. So, regardless of the marketing tactics you use, it's essential to communicate what differentiates you from others providing similar services in your area.

Is your location more convenient? Are you open in the evenings or on weekends? Maybe you offer an online appointment scheduler? Or are you using molecular or moderately complex testing technology that can provide results faster or more accurately?

Having new lab equipment or POCT capabilities is a great start. But communicating to prospective patients the advantages they'll uniquely experience by coming to your facility could be the difference between being considered and being selected. You are more likely to become their preferred healthcare provider if you stand apart.

Providing lab testing at the point of care can come with unique challenges, but we're here to help. Check out our laboratory services, designed to help you run a better, more efficient lab.


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