Posted on February 7, 2013
By: Mike Milligan, President
Did you know that we're entering the "Super Stress Era?" That's
according to J. Walter Thompson's (JWT) annual forecast of trends
What does that mean for the healthcare industry as a whole - and
why should we, as healthcare marketers, care?
I'm glad you asked.
According to the JWT survey, stressors are mounting and
multiplying. That means stress will become even more widely
recognized as a serious medical concern. As this trend continues,
forward-thinking hospitals and clinics will ramp up efforts to
address consumers' stress-related healthcare needs.
Keep in mind, "super-stressed" consumers may warrant a different
approach to marketing and messaging, along with new variations on
products, programs and services healthcare organizations offer.
I'll give you a few examples.
- Re-framing your message: When there's high
potential that a customer will be stressed out by a specific topic,
there's generally an opportunity to re-frame the experience and/or
the message for people expecting something unpleasant. For example,
Southwest Health Center developed an effective and humorous
approach to spread the serious message of getting annual
physicals and talking with a doctor.
- Promoting proactive ways to fight off stress.
One of the best stress-management tools is exercise. Consider
developing a weekly exercise tip delivered by one of your
healthcare experts. Post the video on YouTube and your website to
keep consumers coming back.
- Leveraging workplace well-being programs:
Wellness programs aren't new to the workplace, but an emphasis on
stress reduction is. Leverage opportunities to assist local
businesses in helping their employees achieve a better work-life
balance. Yoga and massage demonstrations are just two examples of
how you might get involved (and build your brand).
When JWT survey respondents were asked what kinds of brands
could play a role in reducing or preventing stress, the top three
responses were healthcare (47%), financial/banking (44%) and
Forty-seven percent of the adult population has spoken. That's a
number worth responding to!
To see the entire list of JWT 2013 Trends visit Drew's Marketing Minute.
Posted on February 12, 2013
By: Mike Milligan, President
Governmental requirements for transparency in healthcare have
sent hospitals scrambling to define, defend and promote "quality."
I don't have to tell you that report cards are being handed out
that rank everything from clinical quality to cost index ratings,
and the list goes on.
It stands to reason that these ratings are of interest to
consumers. After all, who wouldn't want to know where a healthcare
provider stands when their health - or life - is on the line?
This presents a tremendous opportunity for healthcare
organizations of all sizes. It also presents a unique and often
daunting challenge for healthcare marketers.
"Quality" is the umbrella under which everything from accuracy
to aesthetics, cost to courtesy, reliability to responsiveness
falls. So how does a marketer effectively communicate about a
multidimensional intangible in a tangible way?
Market quality in a way your consumers and patients can
wrap their arms around.
Easy to say. Difficult to do, right? Depends on your
Start by taking the complexities out of all of those report card
rating systems and quality measures, and break them down into a
message consumers can relate to. Here's an example of how we helped
one of our clients personalize quality. This approach was also
effectively used in TV, radio and print.
In the age of the empowered healthcare consumer, people are
going to shop and compare healthcare options and research symptoms
and diagnoses. They're also going to be extremely cost-sensitive.
Those are givens. That means quality is no longer "assumed." It has
to be proven.
Your hospital can beat the competition to the punch by taking
the lead in defining what quality really means, and then
promoting it. As a healthcare marketer, how you
communicate it will make all the difference.
Posted on February 22, 2013
By: Mike Milligan, President
Residents in rural communities have distinct healthcare needs
that set them apart from urban Americans. That's a fact.
For example, a 2011 survey indicates that residents of rural
communities are more greatly affected by chronic diseases - with
more individuals living in households with heart conditions or
diabetes - than their urban counterparts.
This should prompt an important and immediate question for all
rural healthcare marketers. That is:
"Could our rural hospital or clinic benefit from targeting
Based on the work I've done with rural healthcare organizations,
the answer is generally, "Yes." That response comes with a
Strategies to promote and improve rural health need to
approach wellness and chronic disease risk reduction in new
To be effective, marketers need to think outside of the
"advertising box." Possible strategies could include:
- New technology, such as "virtual visits."
- Consumer outreach models, e.g., telephonic and web-based.
Other venues and partnerships with local community-based
organizations. For example:
- Through a partnership with the National 4-H Council,
UnitedHealthcare Community & State is sponsoring a youth
program to support one of 4-H's core values: healthy
- Recently, UnitedHealthcare and Florida 4-H launched an
Eat4-Health partnership to help fight childhood obesity.
- While this partnership is conducted on a national scale,
programs like this could be streamlined and targeted to the
communities served by your hospital or clinic.
A lot of new (albeit not easily accessible) data is available on
rural healthcare and its consumers' needs, expectations, pain
points and hot buttons. It's data that can help direct your
hospital or clinic in developing effective promotional and business
I'll continue to share it with you in my upcoming blogs.
Posted on February 26, 2013
By: John Corpus, Vice President of
Improving healthcare in rural areas is not an easy task. Many
rural areas have primary care provider shortages, long distances
between hospitals, and a higher percentage of the elderly, Medicare
and Medicaid reimbursement.
Although the amount of healthcare services in rural areas may be
lacking, quality is not. Rural hospitals and most specifically,
Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), may not offer all of the services
of a larger metro hospital, but the services they do offer are
typically of equal quality.
Fortunately, there is a national membership organization, the National Rural Health
Association (NRHA), which brings rural health clinics, rural
hospitals and critical access hospitals together to address their
common issues and serve as an advocate through lobbying
Wisconsin is no slouch when it comes to participating in
addressing issues and improving the quality of rural healthcare.
For example, Wisconsin US Representative Ron Kind, member of the
House Ways and Means Committee health subcommittee, was recently
selected as Chair of the Rural Health Care Coalition in the House
of Representatives. The Caucus is a bipartisan group of over 100
members who focus on improving access to care in rural
Representative Kind was a featured speaker at the NRHA's policy
institute in Washington D.C. earlier this month. During the
conference, he met with other Wisconsin rural health leaders: Tim
Size, Executive Director of the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative;
Jeremy Levin, Director of Advocacy of the Rural Wisconsin Health
Cooperative; Bill Sexton, CEO of Prairie du Chien Memorial
Hospital; Jim O'Keefe, CEO of Mile Bluff Medical Center in Mauston;
David Hartberg, CEO of Boscobel Area Health Care; and John Eich,
Director of the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health; among others.
(Source: Representative Kind press release).
NRHA Selects Legato as Marketing Partner
One of the most overlooked, yet extremely important, aspects of
rural healthcare success is rural healthcare marketing. Many rural
hospitals forgo marketing, believing that they are the only entity
in the region, and therefore, do not need to promote themselves.
This could not be further from the truth.
Metro hospitals and health systems, especially now with
healthcare reform and the move toward Accountable Care
Organizations (ACOs), are looking to expand their footprint.
Challenging rural hospitals for market share, or attempting to buy
them outright, is an expected national trend.
Whether a rural hospital wants to remain independent or position
itself in the best light possible for acquisition, it must have
volume. As mentioned, marketing is integral to success, but
marketing does not just mean "advertising." It does mean assessing
business development practices, planning and strategizing,
developing a formal marketing & communications plan and
promotion through advertising, events and PR.
To this end, we are pleased to announce that the National Rural
Health Association has selected Legato as their marketing partner,
citing our proven ability to market rural hospitals in Wisconsin
and across the nation. So, what can we say, but "On Wisconsin."