healthcare PR and communications

Knights Communications Blog

Good PR can fill patient lists - but you have to know how

Is it possible to attract patients though one good piece of coverage? Yes it is!

With a new procedure, a skilled consultant and an ideal case study, we achieved 86 pieces of media coverage in 24 hours and full patient lists within a couple of weeks.

Why does this proven method still work? Because in the world of social media, search and online news channels, a good healthcare story provides unique, interesting content and that is what gets you found by potential patients and shared. Needless to say, your own website has to be optimized to make the most of the coverage and your systems have to be in place to take calls and book appointments.

I recently met consultant thoracic surgeon Mr Ian Hunt at Spire St Anthony’s Hospital and immediately saw the opportunity to promote his new non-surgical procedure to correct pectus carinatum (pigeon chest) in children. The profusion of coverage placed him as a thought leader – the promoted him as the expert he is and as someone people can trust and admire.

Before the introduction of this technique into the UK, the choice for children with pectus carinatum, and their parents seeking a cure, was a hard one - undergo major open chest surgery during which chest and rib bones are broken and realigned, or live with the condition.

Pigeon chest can cause low self-confidence and negative self-image. Often children don’t like to be seen without a shirt on and taking part in some sports and social activities like swimming or sunbathing can be challenging.

Mr Hunt’s innovative technique uses manipulation and the fitting of a custom-made brace, to correct the condition over time. It involves no surgery and leaves no scars.

The condition affects between one and three in every 1000 people, and is more common in males. The ideal time for treatment is during the early teenage years, and before the age of 18. The target group is difficult to identify and to reach. But with a solid, happy patient case  study it was down to interviewing, filming and meeting the patient. The resulting story gained coverage globally including 86 online publications in the first 48 hours. Coverage could be seen on the BBC, ITV and in The Daily Mail, with more features in regional newspapers and on local news sites. #pectus resulted in thousands of shares via social media and the hospital was able to book more patients. 

The story focused on 14 year old James Jack, featuring before and after stories, with quotes and explanation from Mr Hunt, and James Jack’s mother Jacquie, who explained:

“The results were immediate; right from that first appointment he could see the difference. He instantly became a different child in terms of confidence and physical stature. The manipulation has not only corrected his pigeon chest but it has improved his posture. James Jack is a twin and was four inches smaller than his brother, but now I reckon he is going to be the tallest in the family. He is so confident, he walks with a swagger and his head held high. You would not recognise him as the same child.”

By achieving great coverage on mainstream media, we were able to fill Mr Hunt’s patient lists, and introduce a new choice for children with pigeon chest and their families. The increased awareness is also helping Mr Hunt in his campaign to have the technique made available on the NHS.

You can see the more general YouTube video we originally recorded for Spire St Anthony’s Hospital regarding this procedure, at:

Felicity Knights, Knights Communications