How Chryssa Rich, Primary Health Medical Group, is Staying Ahead of New Competition

Chryssa walks us through the variety of marketing & branding strategies she uses to maintain PHMG's status as the top dog in town.

How Chryssa Rich, Primary Health Medical Group, is Staying Ahead of New Competition

Narrator: Welcome to the Ignite Podcast, where we help marketers and CEOs learn the latest tips and tricks to help ignite growth in their business. This isn’t your typical marketing podcast. We push beyond platitudes to deliver you real-world stories from the trenches. Are you ready to learn? Are you ready to grow? Are you ready to have fun? Well then, buckle up because you are about to enter the Ignite Podcast.

Alex: Welcome everybody to Ignite on Super Pod. Today, we’ve got Chryssa Rich on the line with us. Chryssa is the director of marketing and comms for Primary Health Medical Group, a great group out of Boise, who has recently got some future-facing initiatives on-board to try to prevent competition from taking over there. She has got some really interesting insights into how they achieve that.

Before we get into that, Chryssa, I’d love to welcome you to Ignite. Why don’t we start by giving a little background. Have we always been in health care? Did we just get into it recently? Tell us a little bit about that and then give us a background on Primary Health Medical Group.

Chryssa: Sure. Thanks Alex for having me. I’m excited to have this conversation with you. I have been with Primary Health Medical Group for a little over six years. Prior to that, I was in marketing for a company called Pets Best, pet health insurance, which is based here in Boise, and it’s a national company. I ended up in health care with Primary Health just because of the marketing role. What I loved about the role is that it’s still very hands-on.

I’m not just managing other people, doing the fun marketing stuff, I’m still getting to do that. That’s how I ended up in healthcare just by definition of this particular role. Primary Health is an Idaho-based company. We’re only in Idaho. We’ve been here for over 25 years, offering primary care, urgent care and then some specialties as well. We have 17 locations around the Treasure Valley, with three more coming between now and 2021.

Alex: Super exciting growth. Primary Health has been around a long time and didn’t have a lot of competitors in the area, but what tipped you off that that could be coming and then what did you guys do to prepare?

Chryssa: Nothing really tipped us off other than when I started here in 2013, we weren’t doing any sort of regular patient satisfaction survey, so that was one of the first things I started. We weren’t able to connect any patient or provider info to that survey, so it gave us a really great overview of how the group was doing as a whole. It just didn’t give us that actual data we needed to make clinic-level or staff-level decisions, and we were doing great. We’ve really grown that patient satisfaction outreach over the past few years.

We now have a fully-secure HIPAA compliant model that we use. For me, that was one of the most important things, like “Let’s make sure we’re doing everything right. Let’s look for opportunities. Let’s find out what patients consider to be our strengths, so that we can grow on that. So that if and when a competitor enters the market, we aren’t scrambling to get our bearings about us and figure out what’s going on.

Alex: Absolutely. All right. Let’s talk through the tactics there. Was that survey coming directly out of the EMR after someone checked out? Was it manual? Then after they left their sentiment and reviews, did those reviews go external to a review site or was it just for us internally to understand our positioning?

Chryssa: The first one we did, we were actually using a free online survey service, which is why we were so limited in what we could do with it. I would personally review every single response that came in and would route it to the appropriate manager if it needed follow-up. The great news is that, overall, we were scoring very well. That was really great to see. Then we moved to a different survey which gave us more control and an online dashboard and that sort of thing.

Then we recently moved to a third solution which not only gives us the online dashboard and everything we need to monitor those reviews and automatically get them to where they need to go, but allows us to use some of them in our marketing and on our website without revealing any patient’s personal information.

Alex: I love it. What are some of those competitors that are coming to town? We don’t want to name them because we’re not promoting them, but are they competitors on the PCP side or are they urgent care?

Chryssa: Yes, they are competitors on the urgent care side. All primary health clinics offer both urgent care and family practice under one roof. We’re seeing one competitor coming, that’s urgent care only. Then we’re seeing another one that’s going to offer both family practice and urgent care.

Alex: Are they backed by hospital systems? Are they being used as a feeder or are they stand-alone, trying to be rolled up in a private–

Chryssa: Sometimes, that’s the case, that they’re backed by a hospital system. In another case, it’s a franchise, so it’s not affiliated with any hospital system.

Alex: I got you, and I guess these competitors coming to town, it almost like puts more of an imperative behind you running the marketing to get more retail-focused, consumer-focused and get out there with campaigns. Talk to us about, where do you place your emphasis in marketing? Tell us everything you have going on from traditional to digital, everything in between, and then we’ll start talking through some things that you find are working best.

Chryssa: We are doing everything, basically, you name it, we’re doing it. That includes broadcast, TV and radio, streaming services of course. We’re doing mall and airport banners. We do radio ads in both English and Spanish. We have of course mobile display ads, search ads. Really you name it, we’re doing it. We do events. We have swag with our logos on it. We sponsor events. We reach out to local businesses through chambers of commerce and that sort of thing.

Strategically, we pretty much only advertise our urgent care service, and that’s very deliberate. People tend to know when they need urgent care, and it’s really easy for them to choose us for urgent care because of our extended hours and because of our locations. Then once those patients are in the clinic for that urgent care service, we can refer them to our family doctors, to our specialists based on whatever the patient’s needs are.

Alex: Yes, urgent care is a great feeder system no matter how you look at it. Do you have a huge team there, Chryssa? You’re doing all– You named like 15 different marketing strategies there?

Chryssa: Right. We do not have a huge team.


Chryssa: It is basically me. It is me and then I have someone else who splits his time between our Occupational Medicine marketing and some other marketing activities. Then we work with Stoltz Marketing Group which is a full-service agency here in Boise, as well as a number of vendors for production and that sort of thing.

Alex: Love it. All right. We’ll get more into that down the road. We have the agencies and specific vendors. I want to talk more about that. Talk to me about doing events. That’s interesting to me. What are we doing? Like live in-person seminars or meet the doctor-type stuff? What are you doing?

Chryssa: No, it’s totally different. We do about 35 events per year across the Treasure Valley, and we have a good mix. Generally, we like the events to be established, well-attended, family-friendly and then either free or cheap to attend. It’s things like Discover Idaho Expos or Kids’ Health Expo or in areas with a large Hispanic population, we do Fiestas Patrias and we do Cinco De Mayo events.

We have bilingual staff there that can take our bilingual materials and make sure they’re connecting with patients in the way that the patients are most comfortable. Then we also do some Chamber Luncheons. We’ll give a presentation a couple of times of year and that sort of thing. We have a really big mix of the types of events we do.

Alex: Unbelievable. I don’t know how the heck you manage to show up at all of those and keep all the marketing agencies–

Chryssa: I have an event staff team, so I’m not personally going to all those events. I think that would be impossible. I do have a great team. We call them the MCs. They receive a special training, and they [unintelligible 00:07:52].

Alex: Very cool. The community stuff is super important. A lot of it is awareness, generating awareness in the community.

Chryssa: Absolutely.

Alex: As we’re investing in that, a lot of medical groups don’t. They’ll just do bottom-of-the-funnel-type stuff to capture everybody that’s actively looking, but won’t invest in the things that help build brand in their local community. I think it’s super cool that you’re doing that.

On a digital diary, you guys are also running Facebook ads for awareness or we’re just doing the local endorsements?

Chryssa: We do some social. We do some Facebook typically in the form of promoted posts. Actually, first quarter of this year, we put a significant buy toward Instagram and Facebook through our agency in terms of more comprehensive campaign that we could measure really well. We didn’t decide to continue with that past Q1 because it just wasn’t getting the engagement and the interaction that we were really hoping to see from it.

Alex: Yes and it’s hard to track whether it had a downstream effect– Do you have a CRM currently?

Chryssa: We don’t. We don’t and the reason is urgent care isn’t something that people plan on needing and it isn’t something that they start to search for before they need it. These things happen in the moment. I think of the day that my dad caught his wedding ring on a piece of playground equipment, and it was a Sunday night, and we were at the park. He injured himself really badly. My mom just threw him in the car and drove him straight to Primary Health.

I said later, “How did you know to take him there? How did you know that we would be open?” She said, “Well, I drive by it every day. I figured it was a sure thing.”

Sure enough, yes, of course we were open, and he got a number of stitches. People are coming online and giving us information or doing any kind of significant search and saying, “Gee, if I need an x-ray next year, where should I go?”

It’s really that awareness, it’s really that being top of mind, so that when they do have a need, honestly, we don’t even want them to have to search for it. We just want them to know, “There’s a primary health next to my work, there’s one next to my house. I’m going to go there.”

Alex: That’s huge. Hopefully, not everybody is just finding us from our location presence alone. I’ve heard that a number of times from recent urgent care is that the location is enough or good to remind people. I’m like, “No, you’ve still got to do marketing, please.”

Chryssa: For sure.

Alex: [crosstalk] your presence. That’s very cool. Unfortunate for that was your father, right?

Chryssa: Yes.

Alex: I saw on Shark Tank once upon a time, and this is a bit of a tangent. I think there was an entrepreneur on there with a ring that broke away. It was like rubber, and it broke away if you got it caught. The guys on there were saying, “I don’t think this happens enough to invest now.” I was like, “Yes, it does happen. It happens to me all the time.”

Chryssa: Yes, go talk to anyone in healthcare, it happens a lot. If my dad wasn’t as tall as he was and able to stop himself, it would’ve been a much more severe injury.

Alex: It’s a real danger out there, but worth getting one of the rubber ones that breaks away. All right. Great. I digress. All right. We’ve got a lot of different marketing. How are we tracking– First of all, give us the secret sauce, what form of marketing, and this is just like last-click attribution or last like if you had to pick one thing out of the traditional or digital, anything, what do you find is your most effective driver of new patients?

Chryssa: That is so hard to say because like other groups, we have a challenge with attribution as well because if you go back and ask the patients, almost everybody says drive-by. This is what made them think of coming to you. Actually, this is going to be counter to what you just said in terms of not liking to hear this. For us, our building locations are huge. I know that’s not traditional versus digital necessarily, but we follow a retail model where we pick high-traffic intersections, corners, high visibility, easy to get into, easy to get out of, really great signage so that people know when we’re open and what we can offer, and those are huge.

We would not be as successful as we are today without those locations. If I had to say between, I don’t know if I could say for sure, we get a little bit of everything. I know that patient self-reporting isn’t always reliable, but we get a good mix of– We’ll still have people say that they used a phone book and found us. Then we’ll have people who clicked an ad or who saw a Facebook post or who have a friend who works here. Word of mouth is huge, employee referrals are huge. I’d have to say it’s a little bit of everything.

Alex: I see you have an appointment booking system online, is that functional and ties into an EMR? I was actually making an appointment. It looked like it actually did pull up doctor’s availability, and I was able to book [unintelligible 00:12:21] but it looks like it actually functions.

Chryssa: It sure does. It ties into our EMR. Clinic staff get a notification as soon as those appointment requests come in. Patients can do that to make an appointment with their family doctor and they can also reserve a same-day urgent care time slot online. “You know, I’m feeling under the weather. I need to go in and get checked. I’m going to grab this 2 o’clock spot, so I don’t have to wait quite as long in the lobby.”

Alex: Yes, that’s huge. What’s your EMR? Let’s give a shout out to who you’re using.

Chryssa: We use eCW.

Alex: eCW, I’m not familiar with that.

Chryssa: eClinicalWorks.

Alex: All right. Does it work well?

Chryssa: I’m not on the clinic side, and I don’t use eCW, so I can’t speak to that, but they’ve been able to grow and enable the features that we’ve been looking for.

Alex: Good. Talking about integrating marketing into the EMR. Are they giving you or are we tracking in any way, when someone comes to make an appointment online, do we track how they got there?

Chryssa: No, we don’t because– Well, we try, but because of privacy settings, there’s not a lot we can do. They can come through their patient account to make that appointment request and then they may come from one of our emails, they may come just through our website. That isn’t something that we’re tracking at this point.

Alex: Okay, got you. Very cool. I’d be interested to know. Do you guys run any Google ads currently?

Chryssa: Yes, we run lots and lots of Google ads. They all have outstanding click-through rates. Our best performing ads have about a 14% to a 15% click-through rate because we get really specific and really focused on when and where those ads are delivered and what the people are searching for.

Alex: Yes and it sounds like you really honed in on the urgent care stuff, which helps make the ad copy and all that. The landing page, I’m sure it works well, and they can book online. I would love, man, if your agency could eventually get to the point of tracking a keyword from page search to who is booking appointments [unintelligible 00:14:08] [crosstalk]

Chryssa: Yes, that would be great.

Alex: All right, help my agency people out there. All right. When you’re selecting a new agency, partner, vendor, contractor, et cetera, et cetera, where do you usually go? How does that search start for an in-house marketing director? We’re all wanting to know.

Chryssa: I love to keep things local. I’m always going to start local. I have an ad agency background myself, so I have a lot of connections in terms of whatever we need, whether it’s production or audio, video, or even when we were searching for a new agency a couple of years ago. I always like to start locally with people I know. Then I’m going to of course check the pricing, see how the delivery is.

Usually, do some sort of a trial run like a test project or order a batch of something from somebody and see how it goes, how’s is the delivery, how’s the timing, how’s the customer service. Sometimes, there’s a vendor that does great for a couple of years and then something happens and the wheels fall off and we need to find somebody else. Constantly changing, but I’ve got my list of reliable vendors that I rely on.

Alex: I love it. Staying local and then you try it before you buy it. We all know how the agency turnover thing. Sometimes, agencies will put junior-level people, and they’re like,”Well [unintelligible 00:15:26]

Chryssa: [laughs] Not even just agencies, but a mailing service or the place that prints our posters, it could be anybody.

Alex: Yes, you can’t rely on anyone forever, I suppose. Do you attend conferences, belong to any associations, watch webinars, how else do you digest information and then learn?

Chryssa: Yes, all of the above. I am a member of Boise Advertising Federation which has some really great luncheons throughout the year with really great topics. I also attend whatever conference strikes me. Most recently, I attended Next Level Women Leaders here in Boise, which is a fantastic conference that’s open to women in Boise and Seattle for next year. That was fantastic. A lot of personal growth and development there, but that’s directly going to benefit me in my role here.

Alex: Any healthcare marketing conferences or webinars, any of that kind of stuff interesting?

Chryssa: I get emails and things and all. If there’s a specific topic that looks interesting to me– A lot of what I do is marketing-focused as opposed to healthcare-focused. I love hearing from people in other industries who have learnings that I can apply in healthcare, that maybe haven’t made it over to our industry yet. I don’t just look for healthcare-focused, I look for marketing-focused [crosstalk]

Alex: That is so interesting. I wish everyone heard that. Well, hopefully with Ignite, they will hear that. We tell people that all the time like, “You don’t want just healthcare only agency” because they’re not bringing insights that they learned from a retailer, from a lawyer, from a plumber.

Chryssa: Absolutely.

Alex: Cool. You’re really looking at marketing innovation instead of staying within healthcare, which we know is always a couple of steps behind. All right, brilliant. I love it. One final thing, I noticed on your LinkedIn, we’ve got a scary story here of Facebook getting your ad account information. I want all my marketers to hear this because we’ve got business accounts sometimes linked to our personal accounts. What happened there? Somehow your information got stolen, they ran up some charges on your ad account?

Chryssa: Yes, $14,000 in fact, worth of charges. Some of which hit my personal checking account. Anyone who manages a Facebook business page knows that Facebook won’t let you have multiple forms of payment for the different accounts you might manage. Facebook also requires you to manage your business page with an individual profile. Because I have a side hustle and I do some things there with separate form of payment, that’s how Facebook ended up [unintelligible 00:17:42] to my personal form of payment. I don’t know, it’s unclear exactly how it happened.

I worked with Facebook quite a bit and didn’t get any clear answers, but essentially, somebody who’s able to friend me without my noticing it and without me accepting. Then they went and made themselves an administrator on our ad account, which again I didn’t get any notification of that. Then from there, they were able to run ads for their own product, which I didn’t receive any notification of and because we didn’t have any current campaigns running on Facebook, I wasn’t checking it daily.

I didn’t know anything was going on until I got a notice from PayPal, saying, “Hey, we just charged it to your bank account for your recent ad purchase.” They were able to spend about $14,000 in about a three-day period. Eventually, all the charges were reversed. It was a many-hours-long process getting it all taken care of and cleaned up.

Alex: Marketers out there, be careful, be careful because a lot of this stuff is going to show up as Facebook ad charges on your Reconciliation and QuickBooks, that doesn’t hit your personal account, your business might be getting dinged and this made me really nervous. I hit up my bookkeeper and I said, “Hey, do we do a full reconciliation of every account every month?” I think we do. [unintelligible 00:18:55]. I wanted everybody to hear that.

I’m glad you got it all rectified, and we know Chryssa watches her bank accounts very closely to have caught that so quickly. I love that. One final thing that just dawned on me, where do you think the future of marketing, healthcare marketing [unintelligible 00:19:12] focusing on healthcare, where do you think things need to go here for medical groups here in the next five years in terms of their marketing?

Chryssa: I think medical groups really need to listen and observe what their patients want and what their patients are doing and what they respond to. “Hey, look at this cool app. Let’s go all-in on this app.” Well, how do you know your patients want that app? Maybe they don’t. “Hey, is it okay that we’re closing at 10 o’clock or do people still need us at midnight type of thing?” I think just really listening instead of talking about what we want as a medical group and what our providers want as physicians and so on, really needing to listen to those patients and delivering what the patients need and be open to the fact that maybe it’s not technology.

Maybe they don’t want an app. Maybe they don’t need you to open at 5 AM. Keep an open mind, be prepared to listen to the patient and respond to what you’re actually hearing versus what you think your patients are going to want.

Alex: I love that. Oftentimes, the reviews and the surveys we send out fall onto the lowest marketing coordinator to review and it doesn’t ladder up. I don’t think executive teams are brought in to really listening across the board right now.

Chryssa: We’re doing it, and we’re rocking and rolling over here, so free advice, do it.

Alex: I love it, do it. I agree with you. I think region by region is different. Maybe they want technology in an urban core in a big city. Maybe they don’t elsewhere like, “I don’t really want an app. I want ease of access.”

Chryssa: Exactly.

Alex: “I don’t need all that, and I think it just gets in the way.” Anyways, I don’t want to digress, but that’s brilliant information and a great suggestion. Guys, just listen to your patients and that goes for you all listening that aren’t in healthcare. We get too consumed with what we think we should do and where everybody else is heading, what our competitors are doing. Forget all that and just ask your patients or customers exactly what they want. I love it. Chryssa, thank you for joining us on Ignite. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Chryssa: Thank you, Alex.

Narrator: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. If you like what you heard, please leave us a rating and review. Before you go, please remember to subscribe to this podcast so you don’t miss the next episode. For more digital marketing tips, make sure you visit Have a great rest of the day and don’t forget that the most important part of your job is to [unintelligible 00:21:37]

[00:21:35] [END OF AUDIO]

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