Does Size Really Matter? Is a larger hospital better?

Posted on April 17, 2013

Mike Milligan, President

I was in my front yard the other day when Autumn, our golden retriever puppy, made a mad dash to check out the pooch across the street. I'm not an expert on breeds, so let's suffice it to say it was akin to Fluffy encounters Cujo.


I watched as Cujo galloped toward Fluffy (Autumn) with the zeal of a hostile takeover. As the mastodon-like mammal approached her, Fluffy stood her ground and was the first to speak. Granted, her bark sounded more like a deflated squeaky toy, but she responded to Cujo with such confidence and fervor that his persona immediately changed.

The "attack dog" lowered his tail and began to follow the pint-sized pooch around as she showed off her new domain. Just goes to show - it's not how big you are, it's how you position yourself.

Speaking of… How will your rural hospital compete against big city healthcare organizations? You ultimately have two choices: 1) Roll over and play dead or 2) Kick your business development and marketing instincts into high gear - now.

In the world of healthcare, mergers and acquisitions are on the rise. Will you remain independent or is consolidation on the horizon? If so, should you "speak first" or wait until you're pursued?

Before you answer those questions, take a good hard look at your business and marketing strategies. Now is the time to strengthen your position in the market so you're at the top of your game no matter what happens in the future.

To do that, your hospital may need to explore retail health; team-based healthcare; collaborating with regional health centers; or partnerships with community, public health or government agencies. The list goes on and on, so be sure to pursue all of your options.

We all know that big changes are in store for the healthcare industry. Some rural hospitals will tuck their tails between their legs and hope for the best. If you're reading this, I doubt that's the strategy you'll take.

If you're attending this year's NRHA conference in Louisville, please look me up or stop at the Legato booth, number 203. We can grab a cup of coffee and chat about your next move.

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Healthcare Conferences: What to Know Before You Go

Posted on April 23, 2013

I was recently preparing our booth for the upcoming National Rural Health Association Conference in Louisville next month, when I was reminded of the first trade show I attended early in my career.

Once I arrived, I packed in every possible presentation, spoke to every poster presenter (albeit 15 seconds each), and picked up every piece of literature I could get my hands on. I returned to the office with a briefcase full of generic handouts and 50 to 60 business cards from…I have no idea.


Since then, I've done a 180, focusing not on quantity but quality-quality of information, business strategies and mutually beneficial partnerships. To do that, I follow these self-mandated tips. Thought you might be interested in them, too:

  1. Do your homework before you go. Prioritize the sessions you want to attend. Then, get to each session early. Other professionals in the room obviously share your interest in the topic. Instead of using the time to check emails, start networking.
  2. Introduce yourself to guest speakers and other presenters before or after a session. Be sure to exchange contact information with them. Remember: In addition to being experts in their field, they are well connected in the industry.
  3. You can't do everything - so do at least one thing. Set a goal of leaving the conference each day with at least one take-away that you can implement in the short term.
  4. Ask at least one question during each session that affects your hospital. It's a chance to get insights from the presenter - as well as your peers.

5.     Visit booths and talk with presenters during poster sessions. This is an opportune time to zero in on topics that are directly related to your hospital and to receive one-on-one feedback from industry thought leaders.


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Rural Hospitals: Use These Cliff Notes to Make the ‘Quality’ Grade

Posted on April 30, 2013

Mike Milligan, President

When was the last time you bought a flat screen TV, smartphone or other big ticket item without Googling it first?


Whether your litmus test of choice is Angie's List, Consumer Reports or consumer blogs, chances are you check out what others have to say before making a purchase. Consumers do the same when it comes to healthcare.

In this new era of transparency, "quality" has become a catch-all phrase for everything from accessibility and accountability to price, safety and survival rates. Hospitals are being graded on all of the above - and then some. And it's no surprise that consumers want to know where their healthcare organization stands on the quality front.

While you may not be able to improve your GPA overnight, you can take immediate steps to queue up your quality quotient in a way that highlights your hospital's strengths. Start by taking the complexities out of the report card rating system.

In other words, sum up "quality" in a way that consumers can relate to. Make it meaningful for them by making it personal. Then promote it as only your hospital can do.

I'd be happy to share how we're helping our clients succeed on this level. Shoot me an email, or, if you'll be attending the NRHA Conference, stop by the Legato booth, number 203.

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