Case Study: Orthopedics Campaign Increases Patient Engagement and Encounters

by Heather Hammond, Managing Editor - 09/19/18



A year-long orthopedics campaign finds success during the busy season and keeps potential patients engaged during the quiet months, too.


With more than 4,000 employees and a regional footprint that includes northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, Altru Health System serves a population that prioritizes sports and outdoor activities—fertile ground for orthopedic services, especially joint care. When Altru wanted to increase the number of people who sign up for their service-line seminars, they turned to True North Custom.

The health system’s objective was to boost patient volume by introducing prospects to its surgeons and technical capabilities at a series of free seminars focused on knee, shoulder and hip pain. Altru worked with True North Custom to promote the seminars by developing an integrated campaign incorporating direct mail pieces, paid search and social targeting, and a branded landing page with conversion opportunities as well as email automation for nurturing early-stage leads.

Outstanding ROI

Since launching in September 2017, the joint pain campaign has generated 648 encounters that have delivered more than $10 million in downstream revenue. This translates into a campaign return on investment of $964.77 to $1.

Along with the financial impact, campaign response has been remarkable. The digital components alone have generated 242 seminar requests and 138 qualified calls.

Other campaign metrics include:

Paid Media:

  • Cost per Click: $1.25 (well under industry average of $2 to $3)
  • Cost per Action: $35.97 (industry average is under $500)


  • Confirmation Email Open Rate: 69.01%

Along with the highly targeted audience and custom content, one of the keys to the campaign’s success involves timely and consistent nurturing of those patients and prospects who raise their hands in response to the messaging.

“Altru does a fantastic job connecting with patients during the seminars and following up after the fact,” says Jenn Taylor, account manager at True North Custom. “From allowing people to schedule consultations on-site to keeping track of who signs up and attends, they stay in close contact with community members who show interest in their programs.”

Keeping Altru Front and Center

The success of this campaign speaks for itself in numbers, but Altru took it one step further.

Patients were signing up for seminars, but Altru didn’t want to lose touch during the summer months when no seminars were offered. They worked with True North Custom to develop a drip email campaign designed to educate and engage potential patients during the quieter summer months.

This nurturing campaign was broken into two different groups of seminar respondents: the first of which consisted of people who signed up for the orthopedic seminar but didn’t attend.

“We wanted to focus on the issues potential patients may be facing right now,” Taylor says. “So for this first group, we provided education and insight designed to add value to their lives and kept Altru top of mind.”

The last email of the campaign spoke to the upcoming seminars that are restarting in the fall. The emails direct recipients to the landing page, which has been refreshed with new dates and sign-up forms for this year’s seminars.

The second group of targeted drip campaign emails was sent to people who attended a seminar in 2018 but didn’t follow up or make an appointment with a physician. The email content was a little different for this group, since they already attended a seminar and may be further along in their patient journey. The emails included topics like What happens when you have a knee/hip replacement? What’s the recovery time? How do you prepare your home for post-surgical recovery? The call to action motivates the audience to make an appointment by calling or scheduling via Altru’s online portal.

Altru has taken this service-line campaign to the next level in terms of storing and using data. They load their seminar sign-ups into their CRM database and collaborate with True North Custom to analyze marketing’s impact on downstream revenue.

“They have their eye on the entire process,” Taylor says. “Besides click-through rates and phone calls, they’re also looking at potential prospects to see if if they’re having other encounters at their facilities and generating revenue.”

Because of this in-depth inquiry and insight, True North Custom has been able to help Altru create data-driven campaigns and custom content during a time when they would otherwise not have contact with their audience, helping move potential patients along in the process.

At the midpoint of the orthopedics campaign, open rates are well above industry standard, and there have been zero unsubscribes for any of the orthopedic email drips. The content is resonating with the target audience, and based on the success of the orthopedics campaign, this approach has been extended to integrated campaigns promoting weight management and heart and vascular screenings.

“We were able to educate and engage prospective patients where they needed it most,” Taylor says. “That has made all the difference in the success of this campaign.”


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Topics: Healthcare Case Studies

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