If you got lost in the woods, ran out of food or got
confronted by a bear, do you know how you'd react?
These unexpected challenges of hiking and camping - and the
reactions they produce - can be very similar to the obstacles
critical access hospitals (CAH) and other small or rural health
organizations are facing. But instead of getting lost in the woods,
your organization may be struggling with how to balance quality,
transparency and affordability. Instead of running out of food, you
may be running out of budget dollars. And you probably aren't
facing a bear, but one or more larger competitors.
To overcome all these difficulties, all you have to do is follow
five steps that I like to call "Survival of the Smartest." These
steps help you take a comprehensive deep-dive into both the
business and marketing perspectives of independence and
Step 1: Size up the situation
Understand what you're up against by determining your strengths,
weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Step 2: Have a positive attitude
Don't let the challenges or misperceptions leave you hopeless.
Actively decide that you are willing to take the steps necessary to
survive and gather the support of employees and the community.
Step 3: Navigate negotiations
Sometimes being 100 percent independent isn't possible, but be
sure to stand your ground when establishing beneficial partnerships
for a modified independence.
Step 4: Chart your course
Create a business development and marketing plan that will guide
you in increasing awareness, market share and patient volumes.
Step 5: Make yourself visible
Develop a strong brand and position, and then market your
strengths in your target service areas.
Interested in learning more? If you are attending the National Rural
Health Association (NRHA) CAH Conference on October 1-3 in
Kansas City, you can attend the speaking session, "Survival of the
Smartest: How to Retain Independence" on October 2 at 2 p.m. Lisa
Schnedler, CEO of Upland Hills Health (UHH), and I will present a
case study of how UHH used these five steps to create unique
partnerships and gain market share to become a
financially-independent and award-winning healthcare
If you are not able to attend, send me an
email to receive a copy of the presentation.
Posted on September 3, 2014
last post discussed some of the "clinical" aspects of
telemedicine and the benefits rural hospitals can expect from a
well-implemented program. But there is one caveat to those
statements of success.
Most consumers won't fully understand the value of telemedicine
unless you effectively deliver your message - and continue to
reinforce it. Successful telemedicine programs do this well. On the
other hand, hospitals that take an "If we build it, they will come"
approach realize a minimal return on investment, at best. Others
Just like the services your on-site providers offer,
telemedicine is a marketable service line. Do it right, and your
hospital will not only increase awareness and utilization of your
telemedicine program, it will improve your reputation as a leader
and provider of innovative, high-quality, comprehensive
Here are some - and I emphasize "some" - major marketing to-dos
that you'll want to check off your list as you implement your
telemedicine program. I'll go into more detail during my upcoming webinar.
- Conduct a market analysis to ensure your
program has a sustainable service model. It will help you define
your program and identify and describe your key customers,
competitors and potential partners.
- Create a climate for success. Even though
telemedicine services have been available for some time, the
concept will be new to many of your patients, clinicians,
administrators and others. An effective marketing and promotional
program can help ensure your telemedicine program is highly
accepted by major stakeholders and the community.
- Identify specific marketing objectives. Be
sure to link them to your overall program goals.
- Create a messaging platform. Determine how
you'll differentiate yourself; create a unique selling
- Develop your marketing strategy. Using
identified customer groups, value to these groups, concerns and
barriers, you can determine the best strategies and mediums to
target each audience (e.g., patients/consumers, staff,
- Develop promotional materials. Once you have
clearly defined your program, customers and external environment,
you can begin to develop the materials and activities to promote,
communicate and educate your target audiences.
- Monitor results. No marketing strategy should
be set in stone. Monitor results and be prepared to adjust your
As I mentioned, I'll be taking a deeper dive into the marketing
aspect of a successful telemedicine program during our upcoming
webinar, "Building and Marketing a Telemedicine Program,"
on Tuesday, September 9 from 12 - 1 p.m. (CDT). Donna Jennings,
vice president of Valis - a telemedicine consulting and solutions
firm - will join me and lead a discussion on the clinical and
financial side of telemedicine.