Posted on March 5, 2013
By: Mike Milligan, President
Specialty care is highly concentrated in urban areas. So why
focus on this topic in a series about rural
Because many rural hospitals are throwing in the towel when they
could be picking up additional revenue through:
- Effective, targeted marketing, and
- Refreshing old business strategies with a new way of
Chances are, your hospital offers some level of specialty care.
But how many local residents are aware of these services? If they
are, why should they consider using them?
Develop a campaign that increases awareness and builds
credibility. Do it well, and the revenue will follow. I've worked
with clients to create these types of
campaigns, and I've seen their success.
Don't stop there
Patients need referrals to see a specialist. What is your
hospital doing to
grow referrals from local physicians?
Your effort to build and retain relationships with providers
needs to be ongoing. Investigate software programs that allow you
to track physician contacts and referral patterns and identify
high-value physicians. You can also integrate information across
hospital departments and provide a measure of ROI.
Keep going …
National healthcare is changing the playing field in more ways
than one. Rural hospitals need to adjust their business strategies
to remain in the game.
When was the last time your facility evaluated the need for
specialty services and took a deep dive into new options for
delivering this type of care? For example, some rural
- Provide specialty services through telehealth partnerships.
Check out this brief video describing how
Copper Queen Community Hospital in Bisbee, AZ is successfully
using this approach to provide cardiology services.
- Develop partnerships with visiting specialists (from regional,
tertiary care facilities or larger, multispecialty clinics). Rural
hospitals offer suites to these specialists allowing them to see
patients when they are there, making it easier for them to conduct
pre- and post-operative patient visits. This can also help rural
hospitals strengthen relationships with local residents.
By ensuring the right mix of specialists in the community and
networking with larger systems, your rural hospital can improve
coordination of care and enable the development of population care
capabilities like chronic disease management, which I discussed in
Part I of this blog series. It may also better position your
hospital for value-based
I'm excited about the new opportunities rural healthcare
organizations have to position themselves for future success. I'll
continue this Focus on RURAL Healthcare in my next blog post.
Posted on March 14, 2013
By: Lisa Schneider, Director of
As a healthcare marketing professional, I'm always thinking
about non-traditional ways for my clients to enhance their
marketing efforts. This blog was inspired when my eight-year-old
daughter said, "When I grow up I'm going to be an animal doctor or
an artist." The word "doctor" is what caught my attention.
If you ask a young child what he or she wants to be when they
grow up, you'll get some typical answers: fireman, policeman,
teacher, nurse, doctor.
No doubt it's great that young people do want to become doctors
or nurses. And some do. But what the majority of young people don't
know is that there is a broad range of healthcare professions they
could choose as well.
When children get to high school, guidance counselors do their
best to inform students of a variety of career paths, even they
probably don't know about all of the healthcare careers out
But you, as a healthcare professional, do know. So share your
knowledge. Offer to speak to students about the many healthcare
professions that go beyond doctor or nurse-such as x-ray
technician, medical technologist or technician, phlebotomist,
anesthesiologist, nurse practitioner, medical transcriptionist,
Also tell them about volunteer opportunities available to them
now and how they can become a volunteer. Ask them how you could be
more helpful to them and others in choosing a specific career path
and show them where to find more information on their own.
Through your efforts, not only are you helping the students, you
are showing one more way your organization is involved in the
community. You're also starting to grow a group of potential
patients at a very early age.
Posted on March 21, 2013
Mike Milligan, President
According to some estimates, the Patient Protection and
Affordable Care Act (PPACA) could expand coverage to 5.4 million
newly-insured individuals in rural areas. That has both rural and
urban hospitals worried about a shortage of primary care
physicians. And rightfully so.
On Monday, Congress reintroduced a bill to address this issue.
Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2013, would
increase the number of Medicare-supported hospital residency
positions by 15,000, or 3,000 per year over five years.
The good news? You don't have to wait; you can take action
Many hospitals are stuck in a quagmire of concern; watching,
worrying and waiting to see what happens next. That gives
your hospital a window of opportunity to ramp up
recruiting efforts - before the competition really heats up!
But take note: Online job postings and other traditional
recruitment efforts simply won't cut it. It's time to implement an
all-out recruitment strategy that is more intense, more innovative
and more integral to your marketing plan than ever before. I'll
give you some examples.
- Don't just think outside of the box - think outside of
- Consider recruiting foreign medical graduates with J-1
- This Visa waives the two-year home residency requirement for
graduates and allows a physician to stay in the country to practice
in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area
- Target and entice medical students.Studies
show doctors who train in rural areas are two to three times more
likely to return to practice in a rural community.
- One rural hospital in Iowa has become a training site for
medical students studying at Des Moines University. During the last
week of each rotation, senior leaders at the hospital have
breakfast with the students to get their insights and find out what
would entice them to work for the hospital when they complete their
- A community hospital in Michigan is also being proactive with
its recruitment efforts by targeting current medical students.
Watch this news brief to find out
- Tap into your board.Once you identify a
promising candidate, get board members involved in recruiting. For
- Match the spouses or significant others of prospective
candidates with local board members who share similar interests,
such as outdoor sports, volunteering or raising a family.
- Ask a board member or veteran physician to host a dinner at his
or her home rather than taking a candidate to a restaurant. Getting
better acquainted with senior leaders can help ease the nerves of
candidates who are making significant decisions that will affect
their professional and personal life.
- Stake out your community.Before you begin your
recruitment campaign, gain the support of recognized leaders in the
community who have a stake in the success of your hospital and
their local health care system in general. For example:
- Bank/Credit union CEOs and managers: Remind them of the
economic value your hospital's payroll brings to their business.
Also help these leaders understand the importance of primary care
providers to the vitality of your hospital. It may motivate them to
provide start-up capital for the new provider's practice.
- Local school principals: These leaders know that healthy kids
make better students. Help them understand that a primary care
provider is a key member of a child's health management team. If
you have the principal's support, he or she could talk with a
candidate (and spouse) about the local education system, send the
candidate information and/or provide a school tour during a site
- Think PAs and NPs. Another way to address the
primary care shortage is to develop a retail health clinic strategy
that uses mid-level providers to increase PCP productivity and
- Unlike primary care physicians, the number of PAs and NPs is on
- Consider focusing some of your recruiting efforts in this
You may also want to check out this site. It
features non-profit organizations that help health professionals
find jobs in rural and underserved areas throughout the