Have you ever finished up a bariatric surgery seminar and said to yourself, “This is a waste of time”?
The Current State Of Seminars
Today, its normal for only 3 to 5 people show up for bariatric surgery seminars. Food is often provided and a Bariatric Coordinator has spent hours the week prior coordinating. The surgeon spends about an hour or more speaking to these 5 people. If everyone is lucky, one of the 5 patients will book an appointment. That doesn’t guarantee the patient will make it to surgery.
A lot of time and money is spent attracting only one or two new patients. Could that time and money be spent elsewhere?
What Has Changed?
After the Enron Scandal, the US government passed a law called the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. This act focuses on accounting fraud, kickbacks, and other non-ethical business dealings. Hospitals have changed some practices in response to this law. In particular, the way hospitals promote individual surgeons that do not work for the hospital has changed. Promoting any individual surgeon and not promoting another could be seen as a kickback to a surgeon for bringing business to their hospital. And that has changed how bariatric surgery seminars are conducted.
A couple of years back it was possible to have someone from the surgeons office attend the seminar and make appointments right after the seminar finished. The capture rate (percentage of seminar attendees that, following a seminar, booked an in-office consultation) was up to 50% and at some clinics even higher.
Sarbanes-Oxley has created a situation where often neither you nor the hospital can make appointments after your seminars. And as a result, the capture rate has dropped dramatically. Keep in mind that this applies only to surgeons that are not employed by a hospital. If you are employed by the hospital or conduct your seminar at your office or off-site then this doesn’t apply.
The other major change is competition. Almost every major city has bariatric surgery seminars every week. And most of them have more than one.
How To Increase Your Capture Rate
With every hospital in town offering bariatric surgery seminars, its difficult to stand out. There just aren’t enough people in town considering surgery to fill a room twice a week.
Most hospitals advertise their seminars on their website and throughout the hospital. Some buy radio ads and others even pay for TV ads. Surgeons typically list their seminars on their website and offer a way to register online.
These steps will help free your practice or facility from the necessity of seminars and increase the number of seminar attendees when you do have seminars.
- Video record your seminar. Use Camtasia Software to record the powerpoint presentation with the audio of the surgeon speaking.
- Create a custom SmartPhone App that is free for patients and potential patients to download.
- Add your recorded seminar to your App and your website.
- Spend the time and money you spent advertising your surgery seminars on advertising your App.
An App is much better than a simple seminar for many reasons.
- Patients have the option to watch your seminar when its convenient for them.
- If a potential patient wants to attend an in-person seminar or support group the user can open the calendar screen in the App and easily RSVP.
- The user can see that you’ve got an active support group and you’re dedicated to offering tools that support your patients weight loss.
- The user can easily book an appointment.
- The user can start a conversation with your office via the App.
You are probably saying, “My patients can already do all of that on my website.” That’s true if your patients are already on their computer and they’ve already found your website.
When someone see’s an advertisement for your practice do they write down the website address? Do they write down the phone number? Do they even have a pen handy? Do most people call immediately or call later in the day when they have some privacy? How many people have every intention of calling or visiting your website but then lose the paper that they wrote the information down on? Or just forget to do it?
Change The Way You Advertise
When you advertise your practice or your seminars, instead of asking people to call or go to the website, ask them to download your free App that includes an easy way to keep track of their weight.
An App can be downloaded immediately after seeing or hearing your advertisement. There is no slip of paper to write stuff down on, only later to be lost. They don’t have to remember the name of your clinic or search for a pen.
Once your App is downloaded, every time they use their phone they see an icon for your practice reminding them to make that first appointment. And when they have some free time they can watch your online seminar that is built into the App among the many other features.
Once your App is on their phone, it becomes a constant reminder to take action. And when that person is ready for surgery, your App is the first thing they check.
While you may continue to have 3 to 5 people show up for your in-person surgery seminars, by putting your seminar on your patient’s phone you are likely to get 10 to 20 times that amount watching your seminar via your new App. And immediately after they watch your seminar they can use the App to request that first appointment.