How Piedmont Healthcare is using da Vinci surgery to drive strategic growth + expand access in rural communities

Minimally invasive robotic surgery has immense appeal for many stakeholders, from patients who want a quick recovery to surgeons who aspire to work with the most advanced tools.

For hospital leaders aiming to drive strategic volume growth and even students considering a career in medicine, this care option is viewed as a conduit for innovation and exploring what's possible in surgery.

Becker's Hospital Review recently spoke with Cindy Ferst, director of physician outreach at Atlanta-based Piedmont Healthcare — a 22-hospital health system that currently uses 26 da Vinci robots — about the role of robotic surgery in the organization's growth strategy, what internal team collaboration looks like and the impact of patient education.

Question: What is the main function of your team, and how do you empower them to deliver impactful messaging and education around the benefits of robotic surgery?

Cindy Ferst: The physician outreach team comprises 15 outreach consultants whose strategic goals are aligned with those of the local hospital CEOs. We meet and coordinate our goals for each quarter, based upon the need for growth alongside their business plan. Through those meetings, we learned that robotics is a priority for our leaders across the system.

My team has access to Piedmont's operational leadership and surgeons, who serve as a resource for any clinical questions. In addition, we've partnered with Intuitive and are continuously identifying ways that outreach team members can have the right information and understanding of the "why" behind robotics and its impact for patients.

Q: How are you ensuring that your strategies are aligned with those of the hospital in terms of increasing the utilization of robotic surgery?

CF: The physician outreach team is integrated through driving results with marketing, ensuring that our referring partners are aware of what services we have. The team is also involved in understanding efficiencies, so if we're at capacity in some areas, they can provide guidance as to where we can shift demand. We also drive physician-to-physician engagement.

Q: Patient experience has been a hot topic for a while. Can you share some insights into how your team educates patients on da Vinci surgery as a care option? 

CF: Marketing robotics is a two-pronged approach, where both physicians and potential patients need resources for education and awareness of this surgical modality and its clinical benefits. We're optimizing what we're providing to our referring providers so they can relay that to their patients and help them understand that it isn't the robot that's doing the surgery, it is the physician.

We are also working side by side with our marketing team to ensure that our collateral and website are optimized because we know that patients are proactive and are searching for care options on their own. We want to make sure that when they go to search for robotics at Piedmont, they have the right resources in front of them.

Q: Within your community, what strategies have you used to communicate the benefits and value of da Vinci and its minimally invasive diagnostic technology?

CF: We align our referring physicians to be able to speak to community members and students from a variety of age groups. We also help educate the younger population outside the realm of school programs. In addition, we have patient testimonials; we've worked with local media outlets; and we've even had the local government help us produce video content that highlights the importance of robotics and how it can help patients. 

Q: Some of Piedmont's da Vinci robots have been placed in hospitals that are in rural areas. Can you share the "why" behind that?

CF: Our mission is to provide advanced, high-quality care close to home, so that a patient in a rural market doesn't have to go into the city to receive the care that they need. We have highly trained staff in every market and work to equip our surgeons with the right tools to perform minimally invasive surgeries, allowing patients in rural markets to have access to daVinci surgery. 

 Final thought with Kate Metzinger, executive director of brand activation for Piedmont

Intuitive is more than a medical technology company that enables cutting-edge robotic surgery care — it is a true partner to healthcare systems and leaders.

"One of Piedmont's values is to 'Embrace the Future,' and our partnership with Intuitive is one way we bring that to life. We have access to the comprehensive ecosystem of resources Intuitive offers and are able to collaborate in innovative ways that improve patient education and experience, while driving strategic growth for our system. This aligned outreach and marketing approach mirrors the clinical and operational partnership, ultimately leveraging teamwork and collaboration across both organizations to make a positive difference for our patients,"  Kate said.

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars