A negative review. A bad comment. An inappropriate post. These
are all reasons why many healthcare organizations are reluctant to
become too active on social media. Because nobody can control
everything that is being said.
However, since social media is such a large part of
people's everyday lives - and a tool many use to make buying
decisions - your healthcare facility can't afford not to be active.
That's why it's important to have a comprehensive social media
policy that everyone in your facility is familiar with.
A written policy can protect both your facility and your
employees. Here are four important components that your policy
1. An online employee code of conduct and
potential disciplinary measures for violations of the code of
- Employees can associate themselves with the facility online,
but must make it clear that their opinions are personal and do not
represent the facility.
- Employees cannot share sensitive or confidential information,
especially in relation to patient care.
2. Employee social media usage
- Only members of the marketing department or designated social
media team can post on the facility's social media channels.
- Personal social media use cannot disrupt workplace productivity
or performance level.
3. The approval process for online content.
- Outline who has final approval of online content that directly
represents the facility.
- List who in the facility is approved to post content on behalf
of the facility.
4. A crisis management plan.
- Clearly identify who in the organization should be notified
regarding a negative or inappropriate social media post, who will
respond to the post and what potential responses are.
Once your social media policy is created and approved, the
next step is ensuring all employees are aware of the new policy. A
good way to do this is by including it in the employee handbook
and/or employment agreement.
Features Versus Benefits: What will stick in the minds
So one of your doctors just started offering a new
procedure that uses a new innovative method. Or maybe, your imaging
department just purchased a new CT scanner. Now, it's your job to
create an ad promoting these new services.
As you approach this task, remember that focusing on the
technology or the technique may not be the most effective method.
Patients and potential patients aren't familiar with clinical or
technical jargon; therefore, they won't understand - or relate to -
an ad that focuses on clinical and technical features of a service
or piece of equipment. They also won't want to see a picture of a
joint implant or new surgical laser. Instead, you need to show
patients how the features actually benefit them and their quality
of life. (See a
benefits-oriented orthopedic campaign here.)
- Your doctor's new surgery is a minimally invasive, outpatient
procedure. To a patient this means smaller scars, less time at the
hospital and more quickly returning to everyday life.
- Your new CT scanner allows for a quicker and more accurate scan
while using less radiation. To a patient this means increased
safety and convenience.
Follow a Real Success Story
See how one critical access hospital promoted a new
knee replacement technique in a way that resonated with patients -
and the significant increase in volumes that followed the
The patient experience. It's what every healthcare marketer
wants to portray and what every healthcare facility wants to
But how do you ensure that the positive experience you sell in
an ad is what patients will actually receive when they come to you
It all starts with your employees.
One of the trends we've seen for improving employee satisfaction
- and therefore, the patient experience - is through online staff
education. Between patient safety, HIPAA compliance, regulatory
trainings and continuing education requirements, your staff is
probably spending a lot of time on education. With an online
learning system, this education becomes more efficient as it can be
done anywhere, at any time. Meaning your staff can focus more on
Attend an upcoming NRHA webinar to learn how one of our clients -
Hospital and Health Services - selected an online education
system that not only lead to significant improvements in their
Press Ganey Scores, but also reduced their annual education costs
by more than $16,000.
Rural Solutions to Online Education:
Selecting a system that helps your bottom
December 15 | Noon (CST)
From infographics to eBooks and blog posts, these are things
healthcare consumers are using more and more to learn about
healthcare topics and make healthcare decisions. Why? Because of
the rise of content marketing.
So what is it exactly? Like many new buzzwords in the marketing
industry, content marketing means slightly different things to
different people. Here are a few definitions:
"Content marketing is a strategic marketing approached
focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and
consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined
audience-and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer
-Content Marketing Institute
"Content marketing is a way of engaging and attracting
existing and potential customers through content
creation…it's personal, engaging and tells
-Dan Bergeron, Likeable Media
"Content marketing provides consumers with useful
information to aid purchase decisions, improve product usage and
entertain them while achieving organizational goals without being
-Heidi Cohen, Riverside Marketing Strategies
Interested in learning more? There's still time to register for
our webinar on December 8. This educational webinar, presented
through the National Rural Health Association, will further define
what content marketing is and demonstrate why it's important for
rural healthcare marketers to add it to their overall marketing
Content Marketing 101: Understanding
Marketing's Biggest Buzz Word
December 8 | 12 pm (CST)
From 2000 to 2010, emergency department visits increased 20
percent - from 108 million to 129 million - according to a 2013
report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
In 2009, 45 percent of Medicare beneficiaries arriving at
hospitals by ambulance were never admitted to the hospital, but
they still cost the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Emergency department (ED) overuse and misuse are major problems
that not only lead to higher healthcare costs (and readmission
penalties under health care reform), but also longer wait times and
lower patient satisfaction.
Some hospitals have tried educating consumers about the
importance of primary care and appropriate use of urgent and
emergency care. But as long as the ED remains a safety net for
people - a place they can go for convenient care, emergency or not
- ED misuse will continue.
However, there is an emerging care model that hospitals and
health systems can implement to help alleviate overcrowded EDs:
Community paramedicine, also known as mobile integrated health
care-community paramedicine (MIH-CP), uses local emergency medicine
technicians and paramedics to provide services outside of their
traditional emergency response and transport roles. It shifts
emergency medical services from being solely reactive to
incorporating proactive measures that ensure the most efficient use
of the EDs - all to reduce inappropriate use of local emergency
care resources and improve the overall health of communities.
The full article is featured on H&HN
Daily. Click to read on and learn about the different
models of MIH-CP and additional benefits of implementing a
Last year, we wrote an
article about why your rural hospital should consider
offering - and marketing - GreenLight™ Laser Therapy (a
minimally invasive treatment for enlarged prostate). Not only is
this procedure an excellent way to increase outpatient surgery
volumes, but the creators of the GreenLight laser - American
Medical Systems (now part of Boston Scientific) - also provide
facilities with equipment and marketing options specific to the
rural health industry. These include the ability to lease
equipment, as opposed to buying it, as well as free marketing kits
to help rural facilities promote GreenLight Laser capabilities in a
In fact, many national healthcare equipment and technology
companies are designing solutions geared specifically to rural
healthcare. Reversing the mindset that rural hospitals can't afford
big name brands; nowadays, rural hospitals can't afford not to work
with these companies.
More examples of big name, rural healthcare
This comprehensive online learning
management system offers healthcare employee education solutions at
affordable and fixed prices. So rural facilities with smaller
operating budgets can rely on budget certainty - no hidden fees,
surprise costs or increased rates.
See how one critical access hospital
reduced its education costs by over $16,000 with Swank
While this global company offers
innovative solutions for some of the nation's biggest healthcare
systems, it also provides products and services to meet the needs
of smaller rural health facilities. One of these solutions is a
customer marketing kit, through which, Philips helps its customers
implement traditional and digital marketing efforts to build exam
volumes as well as the technological reputation of their
Learn more about these kits and see how one critical access
hospital successfully implemented a multi-faceted promotional
campaign by attending:
Promoting Your Brand Value in Growing Your Service
A National Rural Health Association Webinar
Presented by Philips Healthcare and Legato Healthcare
November 12 | Noon (CST)
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!
Myth #4: Rural Hospitals are Just Band-Aid
This is a common consumer MISperception. The root cause is
usually something as simple as local residents not being aware of
all the services available at your facility.
So how does a rural hospital overcome this myth and change
people's mindsets? Here are three ways:
1. Develop a capabilities campaign
A capabilities campaign is like a brand campaign mixed with a
service line campaign. It's general enough to be used over an
extended period of time to increase awareness, but it also provides
details on the variety of services your facility offers
The way we like to do a capabilities campaign is to first
brainstorm an overarching theme. This theme should communicate your
competitive advantage, unique selling proposition or why a patient
should choose you. From there, we usually create several versions
of print ads, radio spots, billboards, videos, social media posts
or whatever other tactics your facility wants to use. Throughout
these pieces, you can change the messaging to promote different
services and increase awareness of all your
an example of a testimonial-style capabilities campaign
2. Host a health fair or education series
Since this misperception stems from lack of awareness, education
is a key element in overcoming it.
Why a health fair? It's a one-stop learning shop where
community members can get a quick snapshot of all the services you
offer. But don't forget the light refreshments and door prizes to
draw people in.
Why an education series? This option allows multiple touch
points with audiences. You can start promoting the education series
with messaging on all the events, and then, you can send reminders.
An education series is also a great way to engage with targeted,
but varied audiences, as each event will engage people with
different health needs.
3. Get your employees involved
Whether you call it brand ambassadors or employee
ambassadors, it's crucial to have your employees engaged with the
community and spreading the word about your services.
One way to do this is through a speaker's bureau. Different
departments throughout the facility can create educational
presentations that can be shared at chamber events, schools,
businesses or with local clubs and organizations. These
presentations shouldn't just be about a service, but instead should
take an educational angle to prove your facility is a thought
leader and looking out for the wellness of the community.
Examples: Your dietitian does a demonstration on eating a heart
healthy diet. Your physical therapists can provide trainings or
injury prevention classes for running clubs or school athletic
Another way employees can help counter this myth is by being
involved in the community on a personal level. The volunteer groups
or other organizations they participate in present opportunities
for employees to talk with community residents about your
Myth #3: Critical access hospitals don't have the
resources to build profitable service lines
With a smaller facility, fewer doctors and a lower operating
budget, it may seem impossible to build profitable service lines
like orthopedics or urology. But the truth is that you
can - and we've seen firsthand many of our clients do
Here are three steps to get you on the path to successful
and profitable service lines:
1. Work with visiting specialists as
opposed to hiring full-time physicians.
If you don't have the budget to hire a full-time
orthopedic specialist or urologist - or worry that volume will be
too low to keep a full-time physician - contract with visiting
specialists. These physicians can help you start, and grow, your
service line without large overhead costs.
2. Make sure consumers know you offer
the service line.
Whether it's a brand new service or an existing, but
slow-growing service, you can't build profit with low awareness.
Incorporate advertising campaigns into your marketing budget, and
target your efforts toward very specific audiences who will benefit
most from the services. For example: joint replacement campaigns
should target people 55 and older; prostate health should target
men 50 and older. By using a more targeted approach, your message
will get in front of the right people and reduce your marketing
costs-ultimately, increasing your potential return on
Another way to increase awareness without spending a lot
of money is utilizing your social media channels. It's free to post
on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. However,
investing just $50 dollars in boosting a Facebook post can
drastically increase your impressions.
Need more awareness? Feature new services or physicians in
your newsletters, on your website and around your
3. Bring people into your facility to
see your advanced capabilities and meet the specialty
Plan an open house, educational event or health fair that
draws people into your facility. If potential patients see your
capabilities, meet your providers and feel comfortable with your
hospital or clinic, they will be more likely to think of you
when/if they need care. Educational events and health fairs will
also position your facility as a place that cares about the overall
health and wellness of the community. Plus, these types of events
will position your facility and physicians as thought leaders in
Myth #2: We don't have any competition. We're the only
game in town.
You may be the only hospital for 25, 30 or maybe even 45 miles.
But does that really mean you don't have any competition?
Unfortunately, just because you're the only facility in
town doesn't mean local residents will automatically choose you
when they need care. Larger, more urban health systems - with
bigger marketing budgets and more doctors - may
SEEM like a better option to some patients. That's
why you have to act like your competitors are right down the
Here are three ways to secure your market position and
challenge out-of-town competitors:
1. Determine your unique selling point
and use it to engage with your community. Give a reason
why local residents should choose you. But it can't just be that
you're closer to home (read why here). Instead, find something that
truly differentiates your facility. Is it that your providers are
also part of the community, so they are better attuned to the
health needs of the area? Or, maybe you can offer same day
appointments? Can you be a resource for women's healthcare?
2. Show off your capabilities.
Sometimes patients travel for care because they don't realize
the service they need is actually available at their local
hospital. Areas like cardiac rehab, sleep studies, swing bed and
even outpatient therapy are all service lines you need to tell your
3. Be more than just a place to go when
"I'm sick." In today's wellness-oriented world,
providing resources to help people stay healthy is an important
tool in building a strong connection with them. A strong connection
with your community will inspire trust, confidence and loyalty
between potential patients and your facility. And that will make
people more likely to choose you if and when they do need care.
Learn more about how to strengthen relationships with key community
audiences by requesting our presentation "Connecting Your CAH to
With a projected national shortage of primary care providers
reaching upwards of 31,000 by 2025, there's no need to promote
primary care anymore…right?
In my opinion, it's still an incredibly important service
line to have in your marketing plan. Why, you may ask? Because
despite shortages, which may increase patient demand for providers,
rural facilities will still face local competition for market share
- especially from larger systems that have multiple primary care
clinics and physicians from which patients can choose.
I've also seen firsthand the impact primary care can have
on a rural facility's success. For example, one of our clients
increased new patient volumes by 108 percent at their primary care
clinic after an aggressive marketing campaign. And another client
saw a record-breaking revenue month after promoting their primary
care services along with other hospital service lines.
In addition to continued competition and looking for ways
to increase patient volumes, there are three other significant
reasons why rural health facilities should continue to promote
- Avoid penalties under healthcare reform. A key
role of primary care is preventing and managing chronic health
issues like diabetes or heart disease. These types of conditions
can easily turn into multiple trips to the emergency room or
hospital readmissions if not managed properly. And that means
higher costs for local hospitals.
- Increase revenue and volumes at your hospital.
Primary care providers serve as a great entry point into your
hospital for diagnostic and surgical care. If you help keep the
primary care practices busy, they will be more likely to keep their
patients in your "system" when they need ancillary or specialty
- Position your facility as a total health
resource. In today's wellness-oriented world, you can't
just be a hospital where sick people go or where you can have a
knee replaced. To be successful, you need to incorporate
prevention, wellness, disease management and traditional treatments
into your services - all of which primary care providers
But promoting primary care is not just simply placing an
ad in the newspaper with a doctor's photo and credentials. This
won't motivate patients to choose you for their primary care needs.
You need to show patients how important primary care is to their
individual health, and how your providers can help them stay
healthy, active and well.
To learn more about the importance of primary care
promotion and the three key components in effective primary care
promotion, register for our NRHA-sponsored webinar:
Off the Charts Results: Go Platinum with Your Primary
September 17 | Noon (CDT)
Click here to register!