Posted on May 19, 2015
All rural hospitals across the nation are trying to do the same thing: combat decreased reimbursements and rising healthcare costs while recruiting and retaining high-quality physicians, specialists and staff. Although marketing can't entirely fix the issue, it can certainly help increase your hospital's relevance and perception versus what the nearby metro hospital is doing. In our previous post, we talked about branding and how creating a personality for that brand is a great way to start. After all, rural health organizations must represent themselves in a more retail manner. But how does that tie into your image?
Here are five ways to re-tool your hospital's image:
1. Keep focus on developing loyalty. Loyalty is based on successful interactions. Create engagement with your patients, stakeholders and community. Reward them with positive experiences. Help them live a healthy life, and they'll trust you when they're sick.
2. Be an open book. Open up your brand to participation, and let your community contribute their own stories. Let them share their stories with others through you. Social media is a great platform for this strategy.
3. Turn a crisis into a way to boost employee and community morale. In addition to positing generic health observances, events and hospital achievements, hospitals can use social networks to facilitate and mitigate crisis management - such as disease reporting, communicating a power outage at a facility or responding to a negative patient experience. Posting on Facebook in times of crisis can boost a hospital's public image because when done right, it's a great way to gain a following and trust at the same time.
4. Offer health education and prevention for free. Example: sending tips and resources in a newsletter, email, radio show, podcast series or video. If you aren't regularly staying in touch with your patients, you're going to lose them.
5. Don't overpromise. With a fine line between puffery and false advertising, hospitals should carefully review advertisements to make sure they won't cause patients or their families to expect more than what the hospital can offer. Choose statements such as "our doctors score highest in satisfaction surveys" instead of "we have the best doctors."
Social media is a key tool in implementing these five tips. However, being active and engaging on social media may seem like a time-consuming task. We'll talk about how to streamline your social media strategy in our upcoming post.
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