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Ideas That Work
Get creative with greeting cards
Diana Procuniar
Publish Date: October 10, 2007   |  Tags:   Ideas That Work

The best marketing for an endoscopy center is a satisfied patient who refers others and tells his primary care physician that his experience was a good one. We also market our practice through our patient education e-newsletter (go to writeOutLink("www.gihealth.com/newsletter/previous/063.html",1)) and our annual Christmas card. We've been doing the card for about six years now. It gets better and our mailing list gets bigger every year. People begin asking in October if they're going to get a card from us.

The idea each year comes from one of our doctors, but lately we've been using a professional photographer and a graphic designer. The night of the photo shoot is a riot. All of us docs have a great time and go out for a fancy dinner afterward. It's a great bonding experience for all the docs to get together away from work for a night of fun. The hard part is coming up with a cute theme and slogan each year that somehow relates to colonoscopy without being gross (no "search for Uranus" jokes here). Each year the topic is a very closely guarded secret, as we want it to be a surprise. As December approaches, you can sense the anticipation as we walk the halls of the hospital. The surprise and anticipation just makes the marketing punch greater - and keeps us first in line when people think about having a colonoscopy.

We distribute cards to patients, local doctors, nurses, HMOs and many small businesses. I especially like to send it to places where people talk about their doctor, like beauty salons. Last year, we distributed about 4,000 hard copies of "Polyps of the Colonoscopy." I also sent all 6,100 subscribers to our monthly patient education e-newsletter a link to this year's card online. I've gotten many positive comments back via e-mail. In one four-day period, more than 4,200 people from around the world clicked a link to our card on the Web. Amazing!

As we have migrated to professional photography and graphic design, the cost has risen as well. The total cost is about $10,000, but it makes up the bulk of our marketing budget for the year.

Robert Fusco, MD
Medical Director
Three Rivers Endoscopy Center
Moon Township, Pa.
writeMail("[email protected]")

Consultation Room Not for Bad News Only
Did you ever stop and think about how we deliver the news to family members awaiting the outcome of their loved one's surgery? Surgeons either deliver news in the waiting room, where patient confidentiality is difficult to maintain and others can eavesdrop. Or, if the news is bad, he escorts family members to the dreaded consultation room for a private conversation.

Our policy is to call all family members to the consultation room to receive updates regarding diagnosis or surgery outcome - regardless of whether the news is good, bad or somewhere in between. This ensures that every family is receiving a confidential update, and families don't dread being called to this room for bad news only. If your facility has a consultation room available, why not take advantage of this space for every case?

Elizabeth Edel, RN, MN, CNOR, CNS
Ambulatory Surgery Center Operations
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas
writeMail("[email protected]")

Educate Patients When You Schedule Their Surgery
Like all surgical centers, we're constantly looking for ways to make the experience as quick and painless as possible for our patients. We want their visits to be pleasant, but we also want to be sure that when they leave they have everything they need waiting for them at home. The sooner you let them know what they'll need, the easier it'll be for them to prepare and the less nervous they'll feel.

At our facility, we give the patients all the post-operative instructions they'll need when we schedule their appointments for procedures. We let them know what they'll need to have at home and answer some of the most common questions they usually ask. While we can't predict everything that will happen, this information lets the patients and their families know what some of the most likely problems may be.

Of course, we also let our patients know what they should do before their surgeries. We let them know what actions they should take up to two weeks before their appointments to minimize risks (such as discontinuing herbal supplements) as well as what they can do to improve their quality of life on the day of their appointments (such bringing a toothbrush for overnight stays).

And we don't only give our patients this information: We let them know that it is on our Web site for easy reference.

Lynda Simon, RN
OR Manager
St. John's Clinic: Head & Neck Surgery
Springfield, Mo.
writeMail("[email protected]")

Let Imaging Work for You
In my small, rural surgery department, conserving resources is a must, especially for costly cases. For example, the equipment and supplies for kidney and ureteral stone cases are expensive. Twice in the recent past, we'd opened all disposables in setting up the room for removal cases - only to find out that the patients' stones had been passed and the procedures wouldn't be necessary. As you can imagine, this was not only wasteful but time-consuming for OR teams and central sterile staff alike. To prevent this from happening again, we've instituted a fast, simple and effective fix: When we're doing one of these cases, the surgeon must check the KUB X-ray and verify the presence of stones before a single supply is opened. Doing this doesn't hold up the case, because the imaging should be in the room or with the chart anyway. We haven't had to pitch any expensive disposable supplies since we implemented this process change.

Michele L. Appel, RN, CNOR
Surgical Nurse
Keokuk Area Hospital
Keokuk, Iowa
writeMail("[email protected]")