Magazine article Addiction Professional

A Chorus of Leaders Call for Marketing Reforms

Magazine article Addiction Professional

A Chorus of Leaders Call for Marketing Reforms

Article excerpt

Questionable marketing practices in the addiction treatment industry suddenly became very public in recent months, as a growing number of treatment leaders finally reached their breaking point regarding the crude but widespread strategy of using one facility's name to attract prospective patients to another. As the end of the year approached, a group of treatment CEOs began discussing an organized response, even considering the possibility of legal action to combat bait-and-switch marketing.

The flurry of activity, some of which was cited in a much-discussed Addiction Professional online article, also generated counter-accusations. Some CEOs alleged that those who took up a whistleblowing role were demonstrating a lack of understanding of Internet marketing, adding that they should have kept their concerns within the treatment center fraternity. But one marketing executive who has worked to reform practices in her own facility sees telling parallels between this debate and what commonly happens in the clinical settings these executives oversee.

"In the rooms, when you see another person not working to support their recovery, you're encouraged to call someone out," says Gina de Peralta Thorne, vice president of marketing at Lakeview Health in north Florida.

Thorne says that prior to Lakeview's early 2013 sale to a Texas-based private equity firm, the organization relied heavily on "black hat" marketing techniques that encouraged using any strategy possible to "make calls happen." She adds, "They didn't have a lot of rapport with referral sources," and says the facility's reputation in the field largely had been shaped by the critical comments of people who had left the company.

Under the direction of new president and CEO Roy Serpa, Lakeview would downsize its Internet marketing team and allocate resources toward direct outreach with other treatment providers (it still employs basic SEO strategies to attract patients as well). …

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