Nurturing Referral Partnerships to Grow your Urology Practice

Posted on March 21, 2018

By: Mike Milligan, President


"If you build it, they will come."

Take a quick trip down memory lane with me and view this brief iconic premonition. While it served well as nostalgia on the big screen in The Field of Dreams, when it comes to your urology practice, it's the worst business advice ever given.

Rather than dreams, you need a focused marketing plan built on attracting patients and nurturing your relationship with referring physicians.

One relationship at a time

The first doctrine in referral marketing is to treat every referral source as a customer.  What is their experience with you and your staff?  Are you accessible?  Do you collaborate?  Do you properly communicate results of their patients' visits?

Then it comes down to dynamic marketing, combining traditional methods with modern digital techniques:

  • Foster referral relationships with face-to-face visits. Come prepared with introductory marketing materials, educational pieces, and communication methods to reach you easily.
  • Implement outreach programs to co-market, such as a kidney stone program with an urgent care clinic. Also keep in mind health observances throughout the year, such as Prostate Health Month in September or Infertility and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Awareness in April. These are additional opportunities to co-market with primary care referring partners.
  • Develop and distribute clinically focused annual reports, such as this one produced by OhioHealth.
  • Create email campaigns, such as this one we produced for our client, Urology Associates. This was an extremely effective way to stay visible with referring physicians, while communicating updated PSA screening guidelines.
  • Publish blog posts, eBooks, radio podcasts or videos in tandem with referral sources.
  • Build a database of referring providers, and segment and communicate to them based on their current referral patterns and engagement with your practice.
  • Connect with referral sources across social media channels and engage in their published content. This will ensure you stay top-of-mind and will encourage reciprocation, so your provider partners can be apprised on the latest news from your clinic and become more acquainted with your providers too.

Interested in learning more? We'd love to hear from you.  Please contact me anytime for an informal conversation of what your challenges may be, and to pick my brain on ways you can grow your business exponentially.

Let us share some case studies of how other physician practices have combined traditional and digital marketing, along with an aggressive referral strategy, to attract more patients and develop a recurring revenue model with current and prospective patients.

Email me at and we'll set up a time.

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Is your rural hospital board "on board" with marketing?

7 guidelines to turn your healthcare board members into your strongest marketing advocates.

Posted on February 27, 2018

By: Mike Milligan, President


As a rural healthcare leader, you fully realize the importance of engaging and involving your board of directors.  The role of your board is to provide the appropriate level of strategic oversight and not cross the line into operations.  They must understand the vision and the direction, and then help break down any barriers that may be impeding your hospital's success.

Being involved with rural healthcare organizations around the country has given me the opportunity to work with many types of boards.  Sometimes it's leading a strategic planning session on growth, or presenting their organization's marketing plan. Overall, these are honest, hard-working people who are donating their time. They come from all kinds of backgrounds: farmers, ranchers, bankers, nursing, non-profit, home makers, lawyers, government.  One thing they have in common is their commitment to your hospital and community.  Many grew up in your town, and generations of their family have received care at your facility.

Board engagement and education

Even though they hold a genuine passion for your organization, I've found that they sometimes lack the knowledge of what's required to survive the tumultuous world of rural health. Board members may not fully appreciate the nuances of healthcare, especially when it comes to marketing. They may have a limited view that successful marketing is defined by having a pretty ad in the local paper once a week.

My point here is that they don't need to be marketing experts.  In fact, as board members, you really don't want them in the details.  What you do need is their support and understanding of the need for effective marketing in a competitive world. This starts with board engagement and education.

Every situation is different. This includes the composition of your board, their level of experience, and whether you have a healthy agreement between governance and operations.  Having said that, I offer the following guidelines for turning your board members into the strongest marketing advocates in your organization:

  1. Involve them in the marketing planning process - including your work and thoughts on service line prioritization.  Review recommendations on priorities based on defined criteria such as revenue, reimbursement, downstream revenue, community goodwill, competitive advantage and contribution margin.  Receive their feedback on your direction, but don't present specific marketing techniques or ask for their approval on messaging.
  2. Hold a separate strategic planning session dedicated only to the growth initiative of your goals.  Present potential ways to grow existing and to introduce new service lines, and receive their feedback and input.  Together, establish specific and measurable goals in terms of volumes and market share.
  3. Introduce them to successful techniques used by others, which may include unique alliances or partnerships.  Even if your organization plans to remain independent, there are often creative ways to explore market share growth with other organizations such as joint ventures or other partnerships.
  4. Provide periodic updates on the progress toward assigned goals and strategy. This should be more in the forms of specific results and feedback.  Be transparent in terms of what went well, and what efforts fell short of your expectations.
  5. Identify barriers and let them know what you're doing to solve them.  Receive their input or suggestions on how to overcome these barriers.  Examples could be insurance or provider issues.
  6. Take opportunities to educate board members on successful trends in marketing. Share key articles on industry trends and successful efforts of similar organizations.
  7. Invite and encourage them to attend conferences, especially around topics that cover marketing or governance.

An engaged, informed and educated board member is your advocate and cheerleader.  Provide board members with the tools and knowledge to support you in your efforts, and you'll even further strengthen trust and rapport essential for effective leadership.  Please feel free to reach out to me anytime for specific examples on these tips, and how you could apply them to your organization, at, or 920-544-8102.

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Launching an Employee Ambassador Program in Healthcare

How your rural health organization can benefit and tips to get started today

Posted on February 7, 2018

By: Mike Milligan, President - Legato Healthcare Marketing


option 2

Internal before external.  It's a caveat to effective marketing, and it's particularly relevant in rural health.

No dollars spent on advertising will change your brand without considering your most valuable asset:  your employees.  They are, after all, the ears and eyes of your rural health organization.  They represent you at virtually every place in your community.  The Friday football game, at church, on the soccer field, or at the grocery store.  They influence the perceptions of their co-workers, family and friends.

As a rural health leader, consider engaging with this important audience through the development of an Employee Ambassador program. In short, the initiative is about identifying 10-15 employees who positively influence others in your organization.  Title is irrelevant, and in fact, I'd encourage representatives from clinical and administrative backgrounds, and also who may live in various regions of your service area.   These employees, or ambassadors, are responsible for sharing messages in their social environments, as well as gathering feedback from the community and back to hospital leadership.

Employee Goodwill

As we've helped establish these programs for others, we've learned that employees are honored to be considered.  They appreciate the recognition, and immediately share their enthusiasm with others.

Gain Insights to Internal Culture

The format and purpose of the program can vary to your needs.  Some organizations use the program to roll out new marketing initiatives, and to receive employee buy-in before launching a new campaign.  Other rural health leaders benefit most from the program by gaining some valuable insights to the culture of their organization.

Getting Started

Setup includes identifying the participants and training the new ambassadors.  These include discussing responsibilities and expectations, and listening to the ideas of your new advocates. Then, based on this input, it's time to put that plan into place.  Here are a few other suggestions to increase the likelihood of success for your program:

  • Implement a nomination process for selection of ambassadors.  Criteria should include demonstration of leadership, community involvement, what made them interested in being an ambassador, and a supervisor recommendation component.
  • Provide public recognition for ambassadors.
  • Conduct detailed ambassador training including duties, key messages and expectations.
  • Have regular follow-up meetings with ambassadors to share new information, and to learn what they're experiencing.
  • Respond to all new ideas and take immediate action on the ideas you plan to adopt.

As you grow this program, it should naturally progress to all employees serving as ambassadors to your message.  You'll see stakeholder support throughout your organization, mobilize employees around common goals through the leveraging of diverse experiences. It all starts with leadership and setting the course for your future.  For more information on setting up an Employee Ambassador Program for your rural health organization, fill out this form and we'll set up a time to help you get started.

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Digital Strategies to Help Recruit Physicians to Your Specialty Practice

Posted on January 19, 2018

By: Chelsea Rank, Marketing Manager


Your organization can't provide healthcare to patients without physicians! However, a  physician shortage is predicted in the coming years, so it's important to begin conceptualizing your physician recruitment strategy now so you can be prepared for the changing patient/provider landscape. So, what's the key to being found by new providers searching for a position right out of medical school? And how do you reach established providers looking for a change, and convince them that your organization is the place to be?

It all starts with a unified marketing strategy, and the good news is you don't need a large budget. Consider the website optimization Legato has done with digestive health physician practice GI Associates, located in Wausau, WI. The goal was to attract more physicians, and Legato began with the website's career opportunity landing page. Using the five best practices below, Legato was able to improve the website's user experience (UX) and came one step closer to becoming visible to physicians seeking an open position:

  1. Understand your audience's values. Leveraging your organization's Unique Selling Proposition (USP) will set the foundation for your headline, supporting headline, body content, and closing argument. In GI Associates' case, emphasizing the clinic's impact on patients in north and central Wisconsin, as well as its longstanding history, and location benefits were vital elements to include on this webpage.

  2. Capture attention visually. Including dynamic graphic elements such as photos of your building, photos taken in the community, and photos of your providers will guide the eye throughout the page and make it easy to keep reading. Following GI Associates' brand standards, we upheld certain colors, fonts, and icon elements for the landing page to ensure there was consistency with the other pages on the website.

  3. Make content easy to digest. A list summary of benefits conveys important information, without bogging the page down with too many details. Your audience has an average attention span of about 8 seconds. Make an impression and avoid graphical clutter by using bite-sized phrases and sentences. Also, be sure to do your research for the most commonly searched keywords in your geographic area. Making your landing page search engine optimized will allow you to rank higher in online searches.

  4. Include trust indicators. Using provider testimonials can drive home your point. After all, no one is better at explaining why they love working at your organization than your own employees. You can take it another step further by incorporating video testimonials, to really capture the individuality of each provider's story.

  5. Set up an easy conversion goal. Here's the most important element of the entire landing page: You need to include a Call-To-Action (CTA). This can be done with or without a form. Make sure your CTA is clear and eye-catching, and make it as streamlined as possible, so users don't need to click multiple times to arrive at the end goal.

Fortunately, Legato complemented the efforts of a selected recruiting agency and was able to share in GI Associates' success, as growth in this area was achieved. Of course, a digital strategy is only one component of an overall recruitment plan. To maximize your efforts, a unified, comprehensive strategy is most effective. For more tips on physician recruitment, or best practices for your website, consider using a Legato mentor as part of your team. Contact us here.

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10 Mandatory Marketing Tenets to Grow Your Rural Hospital

Posted on January 18, 2018


10 Mandatory Marketing Tenets to Grow Your Rural Hospital

Fad diets don't work.

After all, we all know that living a healthy lifestyle is based on changing long-term behavior.  Think, and act, in a whole new way.  This year, take that same philosophy in how you market and grow your rural healthcare organization.

In our next National Rural Health Association (NRHA) webinar: "New Year, New Habits:  Positive marketing changes in 2018 to grow your rural hospital," you'll learn helpful tips to change your marketing mindset.  Despite the challenges of rural health, you can, as many others do, increase volumes and revenue, and substantially reduce out-migration.

We'll cover these 10 guidelines in detail:

1. Learn from the past year

2. Form specific, measurable and achievable goals

3. Develop a plan that drives your strategy

4. Stay disciplined to your plan

5. Engage employees, providers, and board in the solution

6. Examine problems and solutions from new and different perspectives

7. Engage with the community and patients in a meaningful way

8. Understand how patients search for you online and cater to their needs

9. Demonstrate the patient experience through memorable and meaningful experiences

10. Communicate with providers and set expectations that marketing is a two-way street

Attend Our Upcoming Webinar

Register for our upcoming webinar, January 31 at 2:00 CDT "New Year, New Habits:  Positive marketing changes in 2018 to grow your rural hospital," presented by Mike Milligan, President of Legato Healthcare Marketing.

Register Here


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SEO: Smoke and Mirrors or Science?

Posted on January 11, 2018


SEO- Rehab Blog

How search engine optimization can help your rehab center attract more clients

Unless you're knee deep into digital marketing, SEO or search engine optimization, might seem like a mysterious, confusing concept. In reality, it's more of a science than an art form. As an addiction and behavioral health treatment provider, you monitor your patients closely, watching for trends and behavioral triggers. You also likely use outcomes as the basis for your treatment protocols.

SEO works much in the same way. But, before diving in, it's important to separate SEO from Pay-Per-Click, or PPC, which is when popular search engines like Google allow businesses and individuals to buy ad listings on their search results. The business or individual bids on specific and relevant keywords they want to target. When their target audience searches for a keyword, their ad listings appear above or below organic search results. The business or individual only pays the search engine when an ad is clicked on.

Recently, Google made headlines by limiting PPC search terms for addiction treatment to protect those seeking treatment from misleading advertising. These limitations are good for patient safety and also increase the importance of a solid inbound strategy.

Modern age of patient acquisition

SEO is different from PPC; it's the practice of improving your website so that it attracts more visitors from search engines. It helps put your content in front of a relevant target audience at times when they are searching for solutions that you offer. SEO turns strangers from search engines into new visitors on your website.

When thinking about your SEO, it's essential to understand that 62% of people use smartphones to search for health-related information. Compared to desktop computer users, people searching on a mobile device are more likely to actually contact the facility. This tells us that your future patients want access to information quickly and while on the go. It also reveals that if they can find what they are looking for, they are willing to 'pull the trigger' and visit your website, submit a form, or make the call.

Like you, your competitors are online and fighting for shelf-space. That's why good SEO is so important. By choosing the right keywords, you will increase your visibility, draw valuable visitors to your website, and be competitive in local searches. And, when you increase your visibility, you also build trust and increase your credibility.

To learn more about digital marketing strategy for your behavioral health organization, contact us.

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Healthcare Marketing in 2018: The ultimate guide

Posted on December 28, 2017

2018 Healthcare Marketing Trends

Trends are not always easy to predict, nor do they always have the influence we think they might have (Bitcoin, anyone?). But how we prepare for them or react to them can make all the difference. We've examined some healthcare marketing data and put together a list of what we might expect in 2018. Some of this list will look familiar and some will be new. Regardless, it's important to start thinking of these things now so you can plan for success.

Digital Developments

More sophisticated searches, content that means something, and mobile mobile mobile. Here's what to look for in digital:

  • Video Rules: Content continues to be king, and video rules them all. Consumers are looking for high quality content from their providers or other trusted resources to educate them on health issues. The takeaway here: keep the blogs but add more vlogs.
  • Content Counts: You can't get anything past the ever-learning Google! If you want your healthcare facility to make the top of searches, you'll need comprehensive, developed content, not just good keywords.
  • Mobility: Google rankings will also depend on the strength of your website. Make sure it's optimized for all platforms, especially mobile.

Physicians as Freelancers

Increasing numbers of physicians are opting for a different model of employment. They are choosing to become either independent contractors, making rounds at many different facilities, or part of a physicians group serving a larger area. Fewer and fewer are employed solely by one facility. This is often a more economical solution for both providers and facilities, but it presents marketing challenges that need to be handled with care.

Impatience with Patient Portals

For healthcare facilities, electronic health records and online patient processing can be a godsend. For patients, however, the system must be intuitive and easy. Spare patients the frustration of online registration and messaging by making sure your patient portal software works for your facility and your patients.

Cultivate Culture

Patients can tell when a facility is well run and has a staff that enjoys their employment. In 2018 more than ever, patient satisfaction will be predicted by employee satisfaction. Healthcare CEOs will be challenged with creating positive culture or growing the culture that is in place.

Want to stay on top of the latest search trends? Get insight and news from our search experts. Contact us here.

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Urology Clinic Boosts Patient Volumes Through Digital Marketing


Urology Associates Digital Marketing


Urology Associates is a high-profile, cutting-edge clinic with skilled physicians and plenty of talent. Yet when they came to us, their volumes were flat and potential patients appeared to be choosing their competitors. This was a specialty clinic in search of solutions, and we were happy to help.

In tandem with creating a solid strategy for traditional marketing efforts, we devoted significant efforts into a digital strategy for Urology Associates.

Making a splash in a digital world

Digital marketing is, simply, marketing that takes place online. Digital marketing used to be considered "new" or "non-traditional" marketing. Now, however, it's one of the most important components of successfully marketing any specialty clinic. Digital marketing comes in many forms, often working in tandem with one another:

Content Marketing

  • Increases visibility of your specialty clinic
  • Develops lasting relationships with your audience
  • Improves brand awareness and recognition
  • Helps you to build authority and credibility
  • Positions you as an industry thought leader
  • Generates traffic to your site
  • Helps your audience move through the buyer's journey more quickly

Social Media

  • Makes your business feel "genuine"
  • Gives your practice an opportunity to connect with the audience on a one-on-one basis and get a feel for their needs and wants
  • Creates brand transparency
  • Opens conversations
  • Increases visibility
  • Acts as a customer service tool - your customers can give you feedback or suggestions as well as raise awareness of an issue; you can see the problem and directly address it for all to see
  • Improves brand exposure

E-mail Marketing

  • Builds credibility
  • Strengthens relationships
  • Helps move target audience through the buyer's journey

Pay-per-click (PPC)

  • Exposes brand to first page
  • Generates measurable results
  • Targets traffic
  • Drives traffic to your website

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

  • Increases traffic
  • Provides trackable and quantifiable results
  • Offers cost-effective visibility
  • Increases site usability
  • Heightens brand awareness


Digital marketing efforts for Urology Associates included print handouts encouraging patients to rate their experiences online, an organized e-mail strategy for reaching out to patients and referring physicians, Google Adwords campaigns, developing and setting up a social media presence, and the creation of a new website.

The results are encouraging, and there's so much more we can do!  For starters, website traffic has increased 66 percent in just six months, and overall engagement with visitors has significantly increased.

If you'd like to learn more about Urology Associates' success, we invite you to download their Case Study here.

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Beyond Default Healthcare Marketing Strategy: "Close To Home"

Posted on November 15, 2017



When creating a healthcare marketing strategy, we often are confronted with the question: "Why should anyone care?"  As a healthcare marketing agency, our challenge is to produce a response that answers the question in a compelling way.



The point is not to be crass, but rather, focused and effective.  All too often in our work with rural healthcare leaders, we'll hear the need to let their community know the benefits of receiving care "close to home."  I'm not arguing that proximity is a valid point, but it begs our perpetual question: "Why should they care?"

Take the "Close To Home" Message Further

In other words, why should the "close to home" message be meaningful?  Yes, sure we all like to know that healthcare is minutes away and we don't need to drive an hour or more for care.  But, we would argue, we must take this message much further.

"Close To Home" as a Supporting Message

"Close to home" can and should be a supporting message in your healthcare marketing strategy, but not the primary message.  Otherwise, we're simply perpetuating the myth that rural health is, well, the best option if time doesn't allow you to go elsewhere. We'd never advocate promoting something that you're not, and certainly, rural facilities don't always have all the capabilities as their big-city competitors.  But, oftentimes people are unaware of the breadth - and quality - of services that rural hospitals have to offer.

Would you rather that a patient selects your general surgery program because of its reputation for quality and service, or because it was the shortest drive?  And conversely, if you're deciding on general surgery for you or a loved one, if you don't have the confidence in the local hospital, are you still going to go there anyway because it's closer?  Of course not.  Again, "close to home" is a strong supporting member of the cast, but it can't assume the lead role.

Make Your Audience Care That Your Hospital is Close

Maybe there are reasons for your audience to trust the general surgeon because of how you've promoted outcomes, or how you've involved the surgeon in the community.  Or maybe you've fully marketed the surgeon to your primary care base and helped build that rapport and confidence. Or you've promoted specific reasons to select a surgeon: coping with that hernia issue, or that incessant heartburn, or whatever reason causes a response or action.

And beyond general surgery, maybe your facility has visiting specialists such as a urologist, gynecologist or orthopedic surgeon who does some outpatient procedures at your facility.  But, the key here from a financial perspective is to give patients reasons to have their procedures performed locally, and not at the nearby city where the specialty physician may have a relationship.

For example, when promoting your urology services, demonstrate the ability of your organization to help a woman with incontinence.  What does she want when considering your organization?  For starters, she needs to know you've done the procedure before, you've had positive results, your physicians and staff are comforting, and you have all the needed equipment and technology.

Consumer research conducted on behalf of our clients repeatedly tells us that patients want to stay local, but you need to tell them why.  Not just because it's convenient, but because of the quality care, the personal touch, the real-life patient stories - and yes, because it's also close to home.

Interested in learning or discussing this further with us? Contact us here

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Part 2: Debunking Rural Healthcare Myths

Posted on September 19, 2017


By: Mike Milligan, President

In this blog series, we'll discuss the common myths surrounding rural healthcare - and give you some myth-busting tools. Here is Part 2 of our blog series. You can find Part 1 here.

Myth: Everyone Should Get An Equal-Sized Piece of the Marketing Pie

I've found this "squeaky wheel" myth can be particularly tricky to confront.

Even in rural hospitals, the competition for shelf space can get heated. The hard, cold truth is that service lines bring in different revenues. And while every department wants to be marketed, the focus should be driven by a set list of criteria and not emotion.

Myth Busting Tool: Focus on a Few Things and Do Them Right

How do we decide where to place our emphasis in marketing? It begins with service line prioritization.

Considerations include:

  • Downstream revenue
  • Community goodwill
  • Capacity
  • Competitive advantage
  • Unmet needs
  • Capitalizing on competitor weakness

But as healthcare leaders, our job is to best manage the limited resources of our rural hospital. Decisions should be made based on agreed-upon criteria and alignment with the goals outlined in your strategic plan. And as our clients have often heard me say, "marketing should focus on doing a finite amount of things very well, rather than trying to do a little bit for everyone."

Myth: We Can't Measure ROI From Marketing

You've probably heard of ROI, but you should really know about ROMI - Return on Marketing Investment.

To measure ROMI, you first need to define your organizational goals.  Sometimes these are business objectives such as:

  • Increasing volumes of a specific procedure or service line by a certain percentage
  • Growing patient volumes
  • Strengthening physician referrals
  • Expanding revenue

Or, you could have communication objectives such as:

  • Increasing website visits
  • Maximizing community education event attendances
  • Escalating social media engagement

Myth Busting Tool: Show Me the ROMI!

Now it's time for the fun part - analyzing the fruits of your labor. While I enjoy every part of the process with our clients, from initial planning through execution, my favorite part is when they get to see the ROMI.

To give you an idea of what success might look like, I'll recap the results of recent campaigns at a rural Montana hospital. In this case, the goals were to:

  • Build hospital-employed PCPs and OB services
  • Increase volumes for specialty services
  • Tell the hospital's story

To accomplish these goals, we launched campaigns that focused on both the providers and the services. The challenge was to increase awareness of the primary care providers and increase patient volumes. The campaign showcased how the providers are relatable to everyday Montanans. We highlighted providers' interests, hobbies, and what they love about living in Montana. Additional campaigns highlighted their full suite of OB and primary care services.

The Results:

In a six-month period, primary care visits increased by 16 percent and total deliveries increased by a whopping 80 percent - clearly busting that myth about ROI.

Many more rural healthcare myths exist, but with the right strategy you can change those perceptions. Take advantage of the internal resources you currently have available and capitalize on your strengths as rural healthcare providers.

Want to Learn More?

Join Mike Milligan's presentation, Busting Rural Healthcare Myths, at the Fall NRHA Conference in Kansas City to learn the best avenues for building awareness of the quality staff and services available at your rural hospital. Click here for more details about this event.

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