Convert more patients through digital marketing optimization



A few years ago, Ochsner Health System invested heavily in its digital engagement capabilities by optimizing its website to attract online healthcare consumers. Ochsner viewed the highly-engaged consumers on—where nearly 1.5 million consumers each year in New Orleans alone search for and compare physicians—as an opportunity to expand its digital growth efforts. Healthgrades Patient Direct Connect® offered new channels to broaden Ochsner’s online presence while Healthgrades Consumer Relationship Management (CRM) helped drive engaged consumers to the health system. Over the course of a year, Ochsner’s strategic partnership with Healthgrades converted over 19,000 new patients who were actively looking to appoint with a physician in the region. This patient-acquisition campaign achieved an 11:1 contribution margin ROI.


Ochsner Health System is Louisiana’s largest non-profit academic health system. It has served the New Orleans area for nearly 75 years, growing to 29 owned, managed, and affiliated hospitals and more than 60 neighborhood health centers. Its 1,000+ physicians serve more than 600,000 patients annually. Ochsner’s rich history of innovation includes introducing the first multi-specialty clinic to the New Orleans medical community and opening the first intensive-care recovery room.

As part of its continuous efforts to reach out to the community it serves, Oschner wanted to enhance its digital engagement capabilities. The health system knew that it couldn’t rely on its size or historical reputation alone to drive new growth and maximize its competitive advantage. In 2013, recognizing that consumers were increasingly shifting their healthcare decision-making online, Ochsner began to build its digital brand awareness within the greater New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Covington, Houma, Mississippi Gulf Coast, Raceland, and Slidell markets.

The health system pursued a three-prong strategy to 1) rebuild its website ( with a consumer-centric, self-service orientation; 2) promote its website through search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM); and 3) purchase digital ad buys. These online marketing efforts attracted additional consumers, but website traffic and new patient conversions were not as high as the Ochsner team had hoped.

Ochsner had two challenges:

  1. Attract online consumers more efficiently to optimize its investment of limited resources.
  2. Effectively convert “hand raisers” – callers who had contacted Ochsner but had not made an appointment.


How could Ochsner efficiently attract and retain high-value online consumers? As an existing Healthgrades Consumer Relationship Management customer, Ochsner took advantage of its annual Executive Summit with Healthgrades to explore expanded partnership opportunities within online patient acquisition. It chose to expand consumer access with the Patient Direct Connect® marketplace on — the largest third-party site for online physician search – in combination with associated CRM campaign management.

Attract online consumers more efficiently

While it had been successful in its own website development and optimization efforts, Ochsner recognized that realizing the full benefits of third-party physician search services involved more than simply going live with a webpage. It needed a scalable, measurable system to drive patients to its hospitals and physicians. Specifically, Ochsner wanted a partner with:

  • A platform that reached a significant new audience — 50% of Americans who see a doctor this year will visit Healthgrades1.
  • The ability to convert consumers, not merely drive awareness — 95% of consumers who come to Healthgrades to make an appointment will do so within one week.
  • Demonstrated, measurable results — Patient Direct Connect® profiles receive 3.2x more profile views than basic profiles on, and consumers are 82% more likely to appoint with a physician whose profile is comprehensive and personalized.

Ochsner also wanted a comprehensive partner to design, implement, optimize, and track the health system’s online expansion. Healthgrades Patient Direct Connect® taps the 78% of online consumers who use third-party websites to find, compare, and choose healthcare providers. This solution empowered Ochsner to maximize the online visibility of its brand and value message by enlarging its digital footprint. Patient Direct Connect® also offered Ochsner costeffective conversion of engaged patients with:

  • A 24/7 call center to process consumer inquiries, connect consumers to their desired physician and deploy ongoing consumer engagement efforts
  • Integrated online appointment scheduling capabilities
  • Ability to effectively track ROI by following a consumer from phone call/online scheduling to encounter via a unique identifier matched to encounter data
  • A team dedicated to ongoing optimization and training to ensure partnership success


Ochsner Health System continues to succeed by connecting with engaged consumers online and by pursuing ongoing marketing optimization. It has leveraged Healthgrades Patient Direct Connect® and CRM patient-acquisition solutions to nurture loyalty with high-value patients and to promote consumer-focused care throughout the organization. In doing so, it has cost-effectively cemented its status as an innovative market leader. It is capitalizing on that leadership to achieve its vision of serving a greater share of the community.

Key Goals

Attract online consumers efficiently

Convert “hand raisers”

Build patient loyalty

Key Results

Over the course of a year


New patients




Average call-to-transfer rate*

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