Myths in Rural Healthcare: Just a Band-Aid Station

Posted on October 29, 2015


Myth #4: Rural Hospitals are Just Band-Aid Stations

This is a common consumer MISperception. The root cause is usually something as simple as local residents not being aware of all the services available at your facility.

So how does a rural hospital overcome this myth and change people's mindsets? Here are three ways:

1. Develop a capabilities campaign

A capabilities campaign is like a brand campaign mixed with a service line campaign. It's general enough to be used over an extended period of time to increase awareness, but it also provides details on the variety of services your facility offers patients.

The way we like to do a capabilities campaign is to first brainstorm an overarching theme. This theme should communicate your competitive advantage, unique selling proposition or why a patient should choose you. From there, we usually create several versions of print ads, radio spots, billboards, videos, social media posts or whatever other tactics your facility wants to use. Throughout these pieces, you can change the messaging to promote different services and increase awareness of all your capabilities.

See an example of a testimonial-style capabilities campaign here.

2. Host a health fair or education series

Since this misperception stems from lack of awareness, education is a key element in overcoming it.

Why a health fair? It's a one-stop learning shop where community members can get a quick snapshot of all the services you offer. But don't forget the light refreshments and door prizes to draw people in.

Why an education series? This option allows multiple touch points with audiences. You can start promoting the education series with messaging on all the events, and then, you can send reminders. An education series is also a great way to engage with targeted, but varied audiences, as each event will engage people with different health needs.

3. Get your employees involved

Whether you call it brand ambassadors or employee ambassadors, it's crucial to have your employees engaged with the community and spreading the word about your services.

One way to do this is through a speaker's bureau. Different departments throughout the facility can create educational presentations that can be shared at chamber events, schools, businesses or with local clubs and organizations. These presentations shouldn't just be about a service, but instead should take an educational angle to prove your facility is a thought leader and looking out for the wellness of the community.

Examples: Your dietitian does a demonstration on eating a heart healthy diet. Your physical therapists can provide trainings or injury prevention classes for running clubs or school athletic groups.

Another way employees can help counter this myth is by being involved in the community on a personal level. The volunteer groups or other organizations they participate in present opportunities for employees to talk with community residents about your facility's services.

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Myths in Rural Healthcare: We Can't Build Profitable Service Lines

Posted on October 7, 2015


Myth #3: Critical access hospitals don't have the resources to build profitable service lines

With a smaller facility, fewer doctors and a lower operating budget, it may seem impossible to build profitable service lines like orthopedics or urology. But the truth is that you can - and we've seen firsthand many of our clients do it.

Here are three steps to get you on the path to successful and profitable service lines:

1. Work with visiting specialists as opposed to hiring full-time physicians.

If you don't have the budget to hire a full-time orthopedic specialist or urologist - or worry that volume will be too low to keep a full-time physician - contract with visiting specialists. These physicians can help you start, and grow, your service line without large overhead costs.

2. Make sure consumers know you offer the service line.

Whether it's a brand new service or an existing, but slow-growing service, you can't build profit with low awareness. Incorporate advertising campaigns into your marketing budget, and target your efforts toward very specific audiences who will benefit most from the services. For example: joint replacement campaigns should target people 55 and older; prostate health should target men 50 and older. By using a more targeted approach, your message will get in front of the right people and reduce your marketing costs-ultimately, increasing your potential return on investment.

Another way to increase awareness without spending a lot of money is utilizing your social media channels. It's free to post on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. However, investing just $50 dollars in boosting a Facebook post can drastically increase your impressions.

Need more awareness? Feature new services or physicians in your newsletters, on your website and around your campus.

3. Bring people into your facility to see your advanced capabilities and meet the specialty physicians.

Plan an open house, educational event or health fair that draws people into your facility. If potential patients see your capabilities, meet your providers and feel comfortable with your hospital or clinic, they will be more likely to think of you when/if they need care. Educational events and health fairs will also position your facility as a place that cares about the overall health and wellness of the community. Plus, these types of events will position your facility and physicians as thought leaders in the area.

Want to see some real results?  Click here to see how one critical access hospital  doubled its total knee replacement procedure volumes. 

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