How to use Social Media to lead Patients to a specific Surgeon

Bad patient marketing in orthopedics drives me crazy. I am going to show you what good patient marketing looks like.

It’s a social media world.  Our phone is always nearby. We use social media all day long to keep track of friends, learn, read, explore and search for medical advice.  

Prospective orthopedic patients do the same. When a person with hip arthritis looks for solutions, she pokes around on social media. The algorithms at Google and Facebook know her behavior. Google/Facebook know that her name is Susan, that she is 64 years old, that she is looking for solutions for hip arthritis. Yes, big brother knows.

Why don’t the orthopedic device manufactures take advantage of these super-targeted Google/Facebook’s profiles? 

Let’s talk about “Out of Context” versus “In Context” marketing, or push versus pull marketing.

Out of Context – Push Marketing 

Device companies are all using the Out of Context marketing methods. This is a push method that is not effective because it requires the patient to do all the work. 

To illustrate, here are three examples of digital marketing that DO NOT drive patient behavior.


A patient somehow finds the website.  Then the patient somehow navigates to the Find-a-Surgeon area [ ]

Now they have to fill in their location, what Orthopedic specialty they need (uuurg?), If they get this far, they see a “Yellow pages” list of surgeon names. How do they know which one is best for them? It’s just a list.


A patient somehow finds Zocdoc- [ ] .

Same thing as AAOS, a list of surgeon names, but now the patient can schedule a doctor consult much like reserving a dinner reservation on OpenTable.  


A patient finds a device manufacturers’ website.  I’ll pick on ConforMIS as an example, but they are all the same. Somehow the patient navigates to the Find-a-Doc area on ConforMIS’ website [ ]

Same thing as AAOS or Zocdoc. Patients have to fill out a form, then click on a surgeon profile. These internet patients are probably not going to ever reach your surgeon customer.

In Context – Pull Marketing

In the digital marketing world, context is everything.

This is the better way. Here is an example of digital marketing that DOES drive patient behavior. I think you will “get it” after watching the video.

Let’s go back to our potential patient looking for an answer, Susan.  Google and Facebook already know that Susan is 64 years old, lives in San Diego, has an arthritic hip, and that she is looking for a solution.  

Here is the secret. You can pay Google and Facebook to reach Susan while she is “In Context”. The cost of the ad is $0.27 per click on Facebook (as of this writing). The bigger cost is the content production. In advance, the device manufacturer will have to do some video recording at their surgeon’s location for a specific patient experience.  The cost of video production can vary from thousands of dollars (hired agency) to free (if you already have a marketing FTE). Cost to edit is only hundreds of dollars (any 14 year old can edit a video today.)

How does it work?

One afternoon Susan is on Facebook and a video link pops up. It captures her attention because, the content is a woman just like her, a 64 years old woman who lives in San Diego and needs a hip replacement. This is amazing! What a coincidence! (this is paid access). Watch the video below to understand how powerful In Context marketing is.

“My name is Adele and this is my story of fixing my hip and getting my like back. “


Susan is led to only one surgeon – the surgeon in video, Dr Peter Hanson. Susan feels like she already knows him. Dr Hanson’s office is near Susan’s house (Facebook did that). She is reassured after watching Adele’s story. She books an appointment to see Dr. Peter Hanson at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.