Marketing, Promotion, Public Relations

Geriatric Clinic Keeps Patients Happy
B-CAD Boosts Business!

Geriatric Clinic Keeps Patients Happy

Curbside valet, total wheelchair access, and ample parking spaces were amenities the University of Michigan Health System took care to include when it relocated its East Ann Arbor Health and Geriatrics Center to a location a mile away.

The hospital network’s sister campus had started out with primary care clinics and radiology services, but in over a year, it grew dramatically. The site is now also home to an ambulatory care surgicenter, as well as a pathology clinic and full-service pharmacy, and, since 2 years ago, the geriatrics center. Physicians, therefore, are collocated to bring a huge range of subspecialties, such as Alzheimer’s and mobility clinics, neuroradiology and neurosurgery, to the patient in one location. According to Dave Brudon, director of marketing at the university’s Department of Public Relations and Marketing Communications, the older patients particularly find the centralization of medical services useful. This age range has many different medical issues they are dealing with, from physiological, to neurological, to all kinds of health concerns.

“It’s a tremendous benefit to have radiology on site,” Brudon said. “It’s literally right there, just down the hall, along with pathology and other services. The patients very much appreciate the fact that it’s very close by and easy for them to access.”

Brudon admitted that because of its well-established reputation and high rankings in publications like U.S. News and World Report, the clinic does no formal marketing to drive new business. Five years ago, the hospital launched a branding campaign targeted at adult children of seniors. But nowadays, most of the “marketing” is done by a separate community outreach group, also employed by the university, who schedules activities like cooking classes and bridge club meetings for the current patient base.

Furthermore, the clinic spends time maintaining relationships with physicians in the community. As a staff model institution, the University of Michigan Health System depends a lot on their referrals. “We work with them to keep them happy and serve them the best we can,” Brudon said, adding that the “most visible and effective tool” the clinic offers for this group is M-Line. The single, 24-hour toll-free call center is dedicated strictly for referring physicians and their staff to make appointments, check up on their patients, consult with physicians, and find out laboratory results and imaging reports. “We don’t need to market our services as much as we need to manage the relationships we already have with them,” Brudon said.

So what advice does this busy, reputable geriatrics clinic give for others who may not be faring so well? Be mindful of the population’s needs, Brudon said. For example, to prepare for the clinic’s move to its current location, a fair amount of reconstruction was needed. Workers gave doorways added width, barriers were removed, and toilets and drinking fountains were lowered, keeping wheelchair access in mind. As a result, seniors appreciate how easy it is to move around the facility. Keeping them happy, in Brudon’s opinion, is key

“More than anything else, in terms of marketing, the center and clinical services have benefited from great word of mouth from the community,” Brudon said. “As is the case with brand-new moms, they [the senior patients] really rely on opinions and referrals from their friends and family. From this particular consumer segment, it’s really big.”

—Elaine Sanchez

B-CAD Boosts Business!

In April, the Medipattern Corp, Toronto, announced it had completed its first multisite installation of its B-CAD system. Two Long Island, NY, practices, Suffolk Medical Imaging PC (SMI) and Mid Island Medical Imaging PC (MIMI), implemented the breast ultrasound computer-aided detection system to expedite their women’s imaging services and improve patient care.

“We beta’ed with Medipattern for about 6 months, and they were very responsive,” noted Michael Antonacci, MD, president of SMI and MIMI. “We have two offices doing the bulk of the work, so we bought two licenses and have three ultrasound machines running the software.”

Antonacci estimates that SMI and MIMI perform a total of around 10,000 breast ultrasounds annually. “We diagnose more than 100 breast cancers a year, but we biopsy 1,200 lesions,” he said. “We have seven technologists doing the scans, and now regardless of which tech performs the scan, B-CAD provides a level of consistency.”

Alexandra Perkins, MD, medical director of the sites, notes that B-CAD has the potential to be a marketing tool in soliciting new referring physicians. “It helps to support diagnostic confidence in lesion analysis,” she said, “and it really helps when we present that to the referring physicians. Not only do they trust us, but now we also have software backing us up.”

Perkins says workflow has been significantly improved since implementation of the software. “B-CAD is fully integrated into the process,” she said. “You don’t want to tie up too much of the tech’s time, and now they spend only a few minutes at the end of the case before they’re able to prepare all the information for the system.”

Antonacci cites B-CAD’s volumetric tools, which automatically calculate lesion size from the image and characterize the BI-RADS features for shape and orientation, as an important asset for surgical planning. “We like to provide a report that helps the surgeon plan their approach.”

That comprehensive approach translates into additional profits by allowing SMI/MIMI to be competitive with large hospitals. “B-CAD is part of a systematic approach,” noted Antonacci. “It eliminates the need for a supertrained tech. By now having ultrasound at the same level as our digital mammography and stereotactic biopsy, we’re in a center of excellence category.”

That is important, given that SMI/MIMI already hold 75% of the market share in their area, according to Antonacci. “We work directly with the surgeons and OB/GYNs, and they control the women’s imaging market,” he said. “More and more breast cases are coming to us. We’re becoming primary care, and from there we’re able to refer. B-CAD makes us much more efficient—we’re entering a realm where we can compete with a cancer center and win.”

—Cat Vasko