Posted on June 23, 2017
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
Posted on June 1, 2017
How Healthcare Organizations Create Cultures That Drive
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
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
Posted on May 16, 2017
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
Ways Your Specialty Clinic Can Get Involved With The
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.
Posted on April 25, 2017
Finding a healthy balance between the art and science of
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
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
How to Market Your Behavioral Health Clinic or
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
Bad Headline: Our Providers are Specially
Trained, with the Technical and Scientific Knowledge to Give You
Good Headline: Specialists who Make You the
- Empowerment. Help people feel that it is a
sign of strength, not weakness, to seek help.
Bad Headline: When You've Hit Rock
Bottom . . . We're Here
Good Headline: Take the First Step in Taking Back
- 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.
Bad Headline: Is Your Alcohol Handling
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
Posted on April 18, 2017
How Rural Hospitals Can Increase Service Lines, Patient Volume,
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
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
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.
Posted on April 7, 2017
How to Build a Patient Testimonial Program that Builds your
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
- 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
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
- 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
- Routinely present at employee and medical staff meetings and
- Incorporate a marketing and brand session in new employee
orientation, including outlining the process for uncovering great
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.
Posted on February 14, 2017
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
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
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.
Posted on February 8, 2016
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
- 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
Stay tuned to hear Mike discuss their accomplishments.
Posted on February 7, 2017
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
Posted on February 6, 2017
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
Stay tuned for more
of Mike's updates!