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Case Study: Staying Relevant by Adding Value, and Marketing It

Starting in 1995 with the Certified Wound Specialist® (CWS®) designation, the American Academy of Wound Management (AAWM), was the first organization to offer a multi-disciplinary wound care credential. As wound care grew into a focus area for specialized certification within the healthcare industry, additional credentials entered the wound care certification space. This prompted the AAWM to reinvent and expand, including a re-branding as the American Board of Wound Management (ABWM), to identify it as a certification body. By the mid to late 2000s, the proliferation of competing wound care certifications increased competition prompting the ABWM to explore ways to highlight its value.  Under the management of Association Management Strategies, Inc., the organization pursued a three-pronged approach: increasing the scope of its certifications, increasing marketing efforts, and increasing access to certification.

In 2007 the Certified Wound Care Associate® (CWCA®) certification was introduced, followed by the Certified Wound Specialist Physician® (CWSP®) certification in 2009. The CWCA® was introduced to meet the certification needs of Associate-level healthcare providers in the health science field, in addition to sales and marketing professionals and academic researchers. The CWSP® allowed MDs, DPMs and DOs to obtain a separate certification more targeted to their needs, while the CWS® continued to provide the most multi-disciplinary option for a wide array of health care professionals.

While adding new products, ABWM also implemented a new marketing initiative to increase awareness of their offerings in the industry. Print advertisements were placed in industry publications and in mainstream media such as USA Today. A wound certification fact sheets was developed to distribute to prospective certification applicants. Additionally, brochures speaking directly to wound care patients were produced for distribution in waiting rooms. ABWM’s marketing efforts also focused more on online and social media marketing. Presence on social media grew through improved content and increased audience engagement. From 2017 to 2020 the ABWM’s presence in terms of followers on social media grew by 6% on Facebook, 13% on Twitter, 25% on Instagram and 57% on LinkedIn. This digital marketing focus has enabled the organization to reach a greater number of prospective applicants and engage current certificates in new and exciting ways.

Originally, ABWM exams were only offered once or twice a year, in specific locations, during a set testing window. In 2011, the ABWM engaged a testing company with a network of testing centers across the country, enabling certification exams to be offered on demand. This greatly increased the ease and accessibility of the exams.  In 2017 the ABWM introduced a mobile exam option which offered exams at locations around the country following an in-person certification prep course. While the course is not required, it proved popular with applicants wanting to prep for the exam and sit for it all at once. In 2017, the ABWM went global when a collaboration with two major hospitals in Singapore lead to a group of 25 healthcare professionals sitting for certification. Combined, these efforts to make the test more accessible led to a nearly 40% increase in certificates between 2010 and 2020.

Finally, in 2013 all three ABWM certifications were approved for accreditation by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). This was an important highlight of ABWM certification’s enhanced value as many competing organizations are either self-accredited or not accredited at all.

As they look to the future, the major projects on the horizon for ABWM include the development of an improved website and more efficient, advanced database management system. A modern website will make it easier for visitors to find the information they are looking for, while the new database will move the certification application process to an online format. With these changes the ABWM hopes to draw in new prospects and retain those already certified by offering an improved user experience.

AMS helps clients advance their industry by providing certification, designation or accreditation programs. In addition to working with subject matter experts, AMS provides full-service program management and support, exam management and standard setting, third party review audits and score authentication.

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