Within the agency realm, Healthcare Success occupies a distinct niche: It specializes in helping healthcare providers, hospitals and medical groups locate patients. It’s a niche that, at least in recent years, the company has filled quite well. Revenue surged 24.2% in 2018, to $8.2 million from the 2017 total of $6.6 million.

According to CEO Stewart Gandolf, the run of good fortune in 2018 was attributable to both the addition of three new AOR assignments and to an HCP environment that has made Healthcare Success’ offering very attractive.

“The groups are getting larger and larger, and oftentimes, as the industry continues its consolidation, we’re working with somebody who has acquired a bunch of practices and has to decide what to do with them in terms of branding. Do they have a branded house or a house of brands?” Gandolf explains, noting that such clients often covet Healthcare Success’ services for another reason. “Sometimes we work with groups that want to position themselves for sale.”

Healthcare Success’ formula is a relatively straightforward one. Once it starts working with a client, the agency helps it target profitable patients and conditions, usually with direct-to-consumer digital and traditional campaigns.

“It used to be that if you were referred to a physician for cancer, you’d go straight there,” Gandolf notes. “Today, you go look at the website and you wonder why you should go to them versus another provider. One of the stats I’ve seen from varying sources is that between 80% and 90% of patients immediately go online to check out a provider even when they’re being referred by another doctor.”

Recent client additions run the gamut from smaller healthcare providers (Tallahassee Perinatal Consultants, South Florida Vascular) to larger groups (the Los Angeles-based CHA Fertility Center and the Texas Nerve & Paralysis Institute). But Healthcare Success isn’t shy about discussing the more than 20 clients and brands the agency lost throughout the year — which, Gandolf adds, is par for the course.

“Maybe half of them, we taught them what to do and they kind of want to do it themselves from there,” he says. “But most of our clients are looking for true partners, and that’s what we look for as well.”

Not surprisingly, Healthcare Success’ primary challenge in the months and years ahead will be continued market consolidation and a list of new and “very, very, very cheap” competitors, as Gandolf describes them, that seems to grow each day. “If we don’t establish value through our thought leadership and through our expertise, there’s just nowhere to go. I would hate to be an agency that didn’t have specialized expertise today,” he says.

To that end, Healthcare Success launched a new division earlier this year, Aria Agency. Headed by Gandolf and former Ogilvy Health managing partner Darlene Dobry, the new unit will focus on pharma, device and manufacturing clients. “You’ve got to constantly reinvent yourself to keep up with the changing times,” Gandolf adds.