6 Easy Ways to Increase Patient Volume

Posted on June 23, 2017

 

how to increase patient volumes
The Cure for Declining Patient Volume

Rural hospitals aren't going extinct - and neither are their patients. As an administrator of a rural hospital, rest assured that even as larger systems encroach on your territory and things look bleak, there are steps you can take to boost patient volumes and infuse your facility with more patients and opportunities.


1. Celebrate Who You Are

What are your facility's mission, vision, and values? Do they involve being the largest hospital system in the United States?  With affiliates in every major city? Of course not. Chances are, your mission is to provide high quality medical care to the people of your own community. Embrace your vision and honor your values. Promote these priorities in all your marketing materials. Make sure this is front and center on your website. Educate employees on this goal. When the community is more aware of your gem of a facility (devoted to them, not profits, by the way), patients will be more likely to select you for their healthcare.

2. Start with Primary Care

An effective primary care program will have new patients flocking not only to your clinic, but to your other service lines as the occasion arises. A strong primary care program will be self-sustaining and then some. Investing in primary care will pay off in patient volumes.

3. Add Service Lines

What community need is not being met? It won't take too much digging to find out what valuable services you could offer at your facility. Perhaps your community has climbing cases of Type 2 diabetes; consider offering diabetes management. Perhaps your community is aging; offer geriatric care and home medicine equipment. Or maybe there isn't a wound care program in your area. Providing a service that meets a deep need in your community not only increase patient volumes, it's just the right thing to do!

4. Make Your Staff Brand Ambassadors

Happy employees will spread the word. If your employees are proud of what they do, if they feel valued, and if they believe in their hospital, they will share it with the world. Leverage their enthusiasm by creating a brand ambassador program for them to participate in if they choose to.

5. Be Where the Patients Are

Where are your potential patients? That's right: online. You may think that a rural hospital doesn't need a strong online presence. You would be wrong. When a potential patient searches for a service, make sure your facility pops up right away. Savvy digital marketing tactics will make sure potential patients are aware of the wonderful care you provide close to home.

6. Get Involved with Your Community

Your hospital is not the faceless corporate entity that your big city competitor may be. Maybe you don't have their money, but they don't have your heart. Be involved in your community. Sponsor athletic teams and fun runs, and get into the schools by offering healthy eating programs and other educational events. After all, they aren't just your community: these people are your friends, neighbors, and even family.

When patient volumes start to decline, you must work fast to stop the bleeding. Luckily, there are a variety of things you can do to boost patient volumes and help your facility thrive no matter what competition or challenges you are facing.


Want to Learn More?

Register for our upcoming webinar, July 12 at 2:00 CDT "7 Proven Strategies to Increase Profitability of Your Rural Hospital" presented by Mike Milligan, President of Legato Healthcare Marketing. Mike will provide a no-nonsense webinar with practical tips for rural healthcare executives to put into immediate action.

Register Here


 

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5 Ways Healthcare Organizations Can Improve Employee Engagement

Posted on June 1, 2017


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How Healthcare Organizations Create Cultures That Drive Employee Engagement

You've heard the phrase "happy wife, happy life." The same can be applied to any employee. It's no surprise that healthcare organizations with high employee satisfaction rates also have high patient satisfaction rates. Joint Commission scores often go hand in hand, and in this case, correlation is at least partly causation.


Workplace Satisfaction Affects Patient Satisfaction

Patient satisfaction is the goal of any healthcare provider, and a key component of patient satisfaction is how staff treats them. When employees are content and workplace satisfaction is high, it manifests itself in high-quality patient care. But it's important to focus on your employees for more reasons than this. Your employees are your "brand ambassadors." They represent your organization in and out of the workplace. In marketing terms, they are walking and talking spokespersons for your brand. It's important to make sure they have good things to say.

How to Get Healthcare Employees Engaged

Here are some ways to make sure your staff feels engaged and appreciated and will help embody and demonstrate the values of your brand.

  • Create a Vision: Work with employee representatives to define a desired work culture. Post a one sentence mission statement in staff areas and break rooms. This helps establish a standard for both employees and managers to be mindful of - both sides should be working to achieve this mission.
  • Ask and Listen: Engagement improvement starts with surveying employees. Get a feel for where you currently are with an online culture IQ test or create your own survey. Take the feedback seriously. Something you think is minor could be a major point for employees, and a simple fix of a long-term annoyance will go a long way.
  • Start a Brand Ambassador Program: If you want to take your survey a step further, consider starting a brand ambassador program. This is an important element of making sure your employees are being heard and equally important when it comes to building your brand.
  • Communicate and Recognize: Even more than money, a majority of employees cite appreciation as their biggest motivator. Have an employee recognition board or highlight key players in a community publication. Whatever you do to recognize the good work your employees are doing, be sure to communicate this. Write a letter to the particular employee and make sure the staff is aware (through email or company meeting) of teh employee being celebrated.
  • Let Them Help: Those in healthcare are often particularly motivated when it comes to lending a helping hand. Give your employees opportunities to help with fundraising or other organization extracurricular activities. These should never be mandatory, but even so, you will be surprised how many employees step up to help. This is not only good for your causes, but it creates a sense of ownership over the organization that motivates people to help even more.

When employees are engaged, they are more likely to stay and become long-term, devoted healthcare employees. They are more likely to demonstrate higher quality of care. The benefits are numerous,  as this study shows. So remember: Employees feeling good about themselves and their jobs is reward enough, but when this translates so clearly to better patient care, these tips aren't just beneficial, they are essential to the health of your whole organization.

 

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Increase Your Specialty Clinic Revenue with Community Involvement

Posted on May 16, 2017

 

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Increasing Revenue For Your Specialty Clinic

Good name, in man or woman--to borrow from Shakespeare-- is the immediate jewel of their souls. The same might be said of a specialty clinic's reputation. It's certainly important for your private practice to be known, but even more than that, it's important that it have a solid reputation. One of the best ways to do this is to grow engagement with your community. Spend as much money as you please on advertising, but the real return on investment comes when that investment is in the community. If you're not building your reputation in the community, your potential patients will go to the competitor who is.

 


 

Ways Your Specialty Clinic Can Get Involved With The Community

This is true whether you run an orthopedics practice, a behavioral health clinic, or anything in between. If you're already involved in your community, great! If you're not, or are looking for new ways to engage, try these suggestions:

  • Support Community Events. Yeah, sponsoring the kids' fun run doesn't get you quite as much exposure as, say, a Super Bowl commercial, but it means a lot more to your potential patients. Having your brand pop up in programs for the symphony and summer league baseball team keeps your practice front of mind for when potential patients need you.
  • Be Local. Hand out branded reusable grocery bags at the farmers' market. Show the community how committed your specialty clinic is to good health.
  • Host events. Educate the local population on your areas of expertise. Host seminars and informational meetings (with delicious refreshments) so they can acquaint themselves with what you do and who you are.
  • Get into schools. The children are the future -- and your future patients. Sponsor health fairs, offer free training for student athletes, and invest in the youth.
  • Pictures or it didn't happen! Do all these great things, but absolutely do not forget to give yourself some credit for it. Announce your community investments on your social media platforms and if you're having an event, be sure to alert the local media with a press release or tweet.

When you do these things for your community, you are telling your audience that you are truly invested in them. This, of course, is not only the right thing to do, it's the financially savvy thing to do. When potential patients are already familiar with your practice and have positive feelings about it, they are much more likely to choose you than your competition. In fact, chances are they won't even consider the competition. They'll just come to you. So, while these small investments may not seem like a big deal, they will pay off big time in the end.

 


About Legato Healthcare Marketing:

We are a healthcare marketing agency headquartered in De Pere, Wisconsin. We provide specialized marketing solutions to healthcare environments including rural health, specialty clinics, behavioral health & addiction treatment centers, medical equipment companies, and healthcare solutions companies.

 

 

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Build Your Behavioral Health Practice, One Unique Patient at a Time

Posted on April 25, 2017

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Finding a healthy balance between the art and science of marketing

By: Mike Milligan, President

As a behavioral health clinician or leader, you've learned that no patient's situation is the same. Every patient or client has a unique situation. Some of the circumstances may be similar (depression, addiction, or other behavioral health issues), but as Julian Seifter, MD, author of After the Diagnosis says, "You are not your illness. You have an individual story to tell. You have a name, a history, a personality. Staying yourself is part of the battle."


Behavioral Health Marketing Requires Creativity & Knowledge, Balanced with Strategies

So profoundly true.  And ironically, you should keep these same tenets in mind when marketing your behavioral health practice.  Just as in treatment, effective behavioral health marketing requires creativity and knowledge, balanced with strategies that produce outcomes. Or as Dr. Siefter says, "Sometimes doctor and patient have to throw out the rule book and construct highly, personal, creative solutions."

Your Behavioral Health Practice Has an Unique Story

Keep these tenets in mind when marketing your behavioral health practice. Just as true for effective treatment, effective behavioral health marketing requires creativity and knowledge, balanced with strategies that produce outcomes. Or, as Dr. Siefter says, "Sometimes doctor and patient have to throw out the rule book and construct highly personal, creative solutions."

Now don't get me wrong: I still like to follow the rules. And in the world of marketing, this means creating a strategic marketing plan that forms your goals and your roadmap to achieving your desired business outcomes. But, this also is where science meets art. Just as every patient has a unique story to tell, so does your behavioral health practice.

Recently, during an initial branding discussion with one of our clients (Edgewater Behavioral Health Systems in Gary, Indiana), I asked its president and CEO, Dr. Danita Johnson Hughes, to share what she considered her current brand, and what her aspirations were for it.

Dr. Hughes, also an author and nationally renowned mental health advocate, reminded me that many people still perceive behavioral organizations to be sterile, institutional facilities. And sadly, the stigma related to reaching out for help continues to discourage many people from seeking care. So what's a behavioral healthcare clinic or organization to do? Start with smart marketing.

How to Market Your Behavioral Health Clinic or Organization

For starters, personalize your brand. Sound a bit nebulous? Let me pin down this concept with a few critical marketing must-dos.

  • Be "real" with your messaging. Yes, your staff is your biggest asset. Yes, your facilities are important. Yes, you need to let people know about them. But if you really want to connect with patients and prospective patients, you need to speak to them in the right way. That starts with:
    • Simplicity. Keep your message concise and simple. Don't overwhelm people with too many facts or terms they may not understand. They are already on "overload." Stay focused for them.

EXAMPLE:
Bad Headline: Our Providers are Specially Trained, with the Technical and Scientific Knowledge to Give You Comprehensive Treatment
Good Headline: Specialists who Make You the Priority

  • Empowerment. Help people feel that it is a sign of strength, not weakness, to seek help.

EXAMPLE:
Bad Headline: When You've Hit Rock Bottom . . . We're Here
Good Headline: Take the First Step in Taking Back Your Life

  • Empathy. Speak to people in a way that lets them know you understand the challenges in their life. Let them know you truly care - and how you can help.

EXAMPLE:
Bad Headline:
Is Your Alcohol Handling You?
Good Headline: We've Been There, and Now We're Here to Help

  • Include stories your audience can relate to. Testimonials are one of the best ways you can "sell" your services. These emotional stories of hope and recovery from the patient themselves or from the patient's family helps put the audience "in their shoes." The best ones are sad but ultimately triumphant. There are many "dos" and "don't's" when it comes to testimonials. Here are just a few:
    • DO use the actual patient or family whenever possible. When it comes from the heart, it's authentic and relatable. If you must use actors to portray a testimonial, be sure to note it.
    • DO NOT forget to coach your people! Make them feel at ease so they are camera (or radio) ready. The effectiveness of a testimonial can be lost in a stiff delivery.
    • DO include relevant details, but DO NOT alienate your audience by using so many specifics that they can no longer relate to their story.
    • DO focus on feelings and emotions.
    • DO NOT forget to end on a positive note with a strong call to action.

What's Your Story?

Your organization has a story to tell, and that story defines your brand. Sometimes that story is told through your employees, referral sources, or through clients or family members. And "how" you tell that story is critical too. There are traditional ways, such as advertising and direct mail, but there are also newer, more personal approaches, such as video and digital communications. Just as no patient is the same, no marketing strategy is either. Attracting clients to your brand is about making a connection. A connection that is real and personal and that tells your unique story.

Want To Learn More?

Register for our upcoming webinar, May 16 at 12:00 CDT "Attracting New Behavioral Health Clients - One Unique Patient at a Time". Presented by MIke Milligan, president of Legato Healthcare Marketing and Cory Valentine, Vice President of Sales of Sigmund Software


Register Now

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Webinar: Nurture, Empower, and Engage Your Community to Grow Patient Volumes

Posted on April 18, 2017

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How Rural Hospitals Can Increase Service Lines, Patient Volume, & Revenue

Register for Upcoming NRHA Webinar

By: Mike Milligan, President

As I visit with rural hospitals across the country, I hear many of the same challenges.  It's no secret that rural hospitals are struggling to compete against larger systems. But amid the gloom that sometimes overshadows our industry, there are many stories of triumph.  Of success.  Of overcoming the odds and showing us all that it can be done.

The fact is, you can not only survive, but you can actually thrive, in this competitive environment.  But it takes a healthy balance of making courageous operational decisions, balanced with implementing sound marketing strategies.

One of our clients, Howard Memorial Hospital in Nashville, Arkansas, through the leadership and vision of its CEO Debra Wright, demonstrated first hand that bigger isn't always better.  She and her leadership team focused on profitable service lines and make some tough choices.  And she engaged her community in innovative ways that will impact her hospital for generations to come.

I'll provide more details on the "how" in our upcoming NRHA webinar on April 26, and through our joint presentation on May 10, at this year's NRHA Rural Healthcare Innovation Summit in San Diego.   Howard Memorial dramatically increased primary care volumes and grew outpatient procedures by 48% in a 3-year time period.  You read that right, 48%.

It's been a journey, and it certainly isn't over.  A large part of our strategy centered around engaging with the community.  For starters, this requires:

  • Understanding your community and its needs
  • Attracting the right type of providers for your community
  • Collaboration between your hospital/providers and patients to design, manage and achieve positive health outcomes
  • Taking steps to improve employee satisfaction

It all comes down to this: When you invest in your rural hospital, you invest in your community. The right messaging, service line prioritization and strategic operational decisions can help you build volumes.

 


Want To Learn More?

Register for our upcoming webinar, April 26: "Nurture, Empower, and Engage Your Community to Grow Patient Volume."

Find out how to nurture, empower and engage both your community and organization while meeting your organization's objective of increasing patient volume and revenue. Hear how Howard Memorial Hospital used new tactics to execute campaigns and how service line developments led to higher revenue.


Register Now

 

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Are Your Patients Telling Your Story?

Posted on April 7, 2017

Doctor-and-Patient

How to Build a Patient Testimonial Program that Builds your Brand.

By: Mike Milligan, President

Healthcare is emotional.  As a father, husband and son, I know this firsthand as I've paced the hospital hallways waiting for a family member to recover from surgery, and I've fretted and worried about what the lab results might show. And, as a healthcare marketer, I've also learned how impactful these emotions are in the stories your patients share about their experiences at your healthcare organization.


Patient testimonials:

  • Creates a human link between you and your audience, lending credence and emotional connection to your messaging;
  • Help potential patients see themselves (or their family members) in the story;
  • Can be used across a variety of formats from traditional to digital media.

As important as testimonials are, they're sometimes hard to find.  Not because you don't have many great stories, but because healthcare providers - often the ones who witness the stories firsthand -- are humble people.  They may view a patient story as ordinary or routine, but in actuality, there's nothing routine about improving, or even saving, one's life.  Every patient has a unique story.

Here are a few tips for finding stories within your organization:

  • Select a point person who will be the keeper of the testimonials at your facility.  Maybe a marketing person, nurse, or even surgery manager.  The key though is that this person needs to build relationships throughout the organization to seek out stories.
  • Meet with nurses in various departments to encourage them to share potential patient stories.
  • Make reporting easy. Provide online or paper nomination forms to make the process easy.
  • Incentivize employees. Encourage your staff to be on the hunt for compelling success stories by offering rewards for nominations.
  • Routinely present at employee and medical staff meetings and encourage participation.
  • Incorporate a marketing and brand session in new employee orientation, including outlining the process for uncovering great stories.

Click here to view an example of a video patient testimonial we did for a client.

If you have any questions regarding building a patient testimonial program please reach out by calling 920-544-8102 or emailing us.

 

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Recap of Legato's Visit on Capitol Hill

Posted on February 14, 2017

ItsABill

All is normal in Washington, D.C.

Normally chaotic, that is. I recently returned from joining the National Rural Health Association's (NRHA) Public Policy Institute to advocate for the needs of rural healthcare organizations. It was a productive and educational experience.

Of course, the elephant (no political pun intended) in the room was the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Will it be repealed, replaced, overhauled, adjusted?

The takeaway for me is that the words "repeal" and "replace" have negative political connotations. Consensus among rural healthcare leaders and members of Congress is that there are positive aspects of the ACA, as well as areas that need improvement. One concern, of course, is making sure that short-term changes don't take away access for patients. Another is that costs are higher than anyone would prefer. My opinion is that the ACA won't be totally repealed and replaced; that just doesn't seem practical.

The healthcare industry leaders in my delegation (Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative) focused on issues such as making sure the 340B program remains, as well as its impact on sustainability for rural hospitals throughout the nation. Leaders such as Black River Memorial Hospital, CEO Mary Beth White-Jacobs explained how the revenue received from this program helped the hospital meet community needs such as hospice and homecare programs.

Robert Van Meeteren, CEO of Reedsburg Area Medical Center educated members of Congress on the importance of fixing the CMS 96-hour rule and its current impact on rural hospitals. Watching people's responses, I genuinely felt that the real-life stories helped legislators see the true face of those who may be affected by their decisions. They learned how a rural hospital's success is not simply about providing healthcare, but it's also the foundation for the economic stability of the entire community.

Thank you to NRHA and to RWHC, for allowing me to join this important event. And thank you for helping me understand the issues in even more depth, thus allowing our team at Legato to use this knowledge in helping you achieve your business goals and effectively compete in the marketplace.

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Mike's Day 3 Journey Update

Posted on February 8, 2016

 

ItsABill

 

Today Mike was at Capitol Hill where Senators spoke about these issues surrounding rural health:

  • Senator Al Franken discussed how rural healthcare is not a partisan issue.
  • Senator Shelley Moore Capito focused on deploying broadband in West Virginia to increase access to care through telemedicine. She also discussed her fight against opioid addiction, which unfortunately also is prevalent in rural America.
  • Senator Shelly Moore Capito says, "We are definitely going to repeal the ACA, but not until we have an even stronger replacement in place."

Stay tuned to hear Mike discuss their accomplishments.

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Mike's Journey Update

Posted on February 7, 2017

ItsABill

Mike Goes to Washington Part 2

Mike Milligan is at the Rural Health Policy Institute and while he's always a vocal advocate for rural healthcare, he's also actively listening. Here are some highlights from the conference:

  • According to Andrew C. Adair, J.D., Government Relations Representative, American Academy of Family Physicians, MACRA is here to stay. "MACRA is not affiliated with the ACA directly, and has strong bi-partisan support. Legislatively, it's not going anywhere. However, there is some uncertainty regarding how nominee HSS Secretary Tom Price will refine it."
  • According to J.R. Greene, Chief Executive Officer, Psychiatric Medical Care, if Medicare Advantage plans continue to expand, or Medicare is privatized, CAHs will need additional financial support to survive.
  • Heather Dimeris, Deputy Associate Administrator, Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, advocates that telehealth can provide the same quality of care as many inpatient settings.
  • Sen. Heidi Heitkamp states, "We cannot leave rural healthcare behind." She encourages us to think for the future and look at all options:  different payment models, telemedicine, "But CMS needs to get out of the way with its over restrictive rules."
  • Rep. Evan Jenkins encourages everyone to hold Congress accountable, not just on the Hill visits this week, but year round.  He suggests advocates keep the pressure on, invite legislators to your hospitals, and organize grass roots efforts in your communities.
  • Brian C. Tabor, Executive Vice President, Indiana Hospital Association, discussing Medicaid expansion and Indiana's HIP 2.0 program states, "I love to see innovative solutions to finding the delicate balance of providing access to care for all people, while understanding the tremendous cost impact for our communities and our nation."
  • Sen. Cory Gardner touts the merits of telemedicine in rural healthcare, explaining that it provides access to quality healthcare, reduces over utilization, and lowers costs for hospitals and patients.

Stay tuned for more of Mike's updates!

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Mike Goes to Washington

Posted on February 6, 2017

ItsABill

On Feb 7-9, 2017, NRHA will host the largest rural advocacy event in the United States at what may be the country's most critical turning point. Legato's own Mike Milligan will be at the event, advocating for rural healthcare as part of the National Rural Health Association Policy Institute. Among other topics, attendees will be discussing the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Medicaid program, and the recently passed MACRA. Mike is learning firsthand about the impact on rural patients and providers, while representing the voice of hospitals and clinics facing uncertainty.

Each day we will provide you with updates on Mike's journey.

2/6/2017 National Rural Health Association Policy Institute Update: Mike has arrived in DC! But he didn't wait until landing to begin the conversation. In fact, Mike sat next to Michigan Senator, Debbie Stabenow and Wisconsin Senator, Tammy Baldwin on his flight and they discussed how rural hospitals are the economic engines of their communities.

Mike-Debbie

Stay tuned for more of Mike's updates!

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