Is Your Rural Hospital Overlooking a Key Quality Component?

Posted on September 4, 2013

"Making the grade" in a pay-for-performance environment is important for hospitals of all sizes. But gaining the trust of prospective patients goes beyond report cards.

In the eyes of consumers, grades, stats and facts aren't the only indicators of quality.  There's a "human element" that is easily overlooked as hospitals train their sights on performance scores. That spells opportunity for your rural hospital.

Add a human element to your internal quality model -and your marketing efforts - and it can become a powerful, persuasive and pivotal tool in positioning your hospital for revenue growth and success. See for yourself.

Check out this  case study (pages 1 - 3) featured in the September/October 2013 issue of Spectrum (produced by the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development®). It shows how Holy Family Memorial (HFM), in Manitowoc, WI, (population 33,000) developed a Right Care Model®, along with a comprehensive marketing campaign, to bring quality to life.

HFM's "experience our quality through others" strategy and its overall organizational transformation led to some unparalleled results. I'll give you an example.

Cardiology was the first consumer service line HFM promoted. Five months after the campaign launched in February 2013, HFM had 185 new Heart and Vascular Clinic (HVC) patients. The case study provides important details and other impressive results.

In an era of informed consumerism, hospitals' quality scores will continue to be compared and scrutinized by prospective patients. That means your rural hospital needs to continue to focus on making the grade. But what your hospital does beyond that may be the final factor in a consumer's decision to use you - or lose you - when it's time to seek care.

The ball's in your court …

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Is Your Online Reputation On the Line?

Posted on September 6, 2013

Manhattan Research recently surveyed more than 5,000 adults who use the Internet as a health resource. Fifty-four percent of respondents said they did online research to decide what services they might need - and who should provide them. Other surveys have estimated as high as 75 percent of American adults search for health information via the web.

Despite these stats, many rural hospitals disregard their online presence. They also mistakenly believe that online reviews play little or no role in defining their hospital's brand. (If you're in that camp, just think about what positive - or negative - reviews have done to the success or failure of a newly released movie.)

The indisputable truth is: If you don't continuously manage your hospitals' online reputation, someone else will. Chances are, that "someone" will be a faction of disgruntled patients who take every opportunity to paint your CAH in a bad light.

And it doesn't matter if you have a litany of great reviews. The naysayers can - and will - cast doubts in the minds of other consumers. And those prospective patients may decide to go elsewhere for care, simply because you didn't care to address your online image.

It doesn't have to be that way. Here are some low-cost strategies your hospital can implement immediately to help you address the opportunities and challenges of online reputation management:

  • Monitor what people are saying - and respond, when appropriate.
  • Use social media effectively:
    • Start by posting one to two times a week. You can increase the number of posts as activity and engagement increases.
    • Develop a go-to topic list and editorial calendars. This makes consistent posting easier throughout the week.
    • Like and share posts from other healthcare sites, such as the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) and Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD).
  • Refresh your website, re-evaluating copy and positioning, and updating/adding keywords, meta-tags and browser titles to maximize search engine optimization (SEO) potential.

As an invited speaker at the Sept. 10 Arkansas Office of Rural Health Critical Access Hospital Administrators Conference, I'll be discussing "Reputation Management and Marketing Services to Rural Communities."

I hope you're planning to attend the upcoming conference. If you are, I'd be happy to have a sidebar with you on this important topic. If you're not able to attend, contact me and I'll send you a copy of the presentation.

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