Myths in Rural Healthcare: No One's Online in Rural Markets

Posted on April 29, 2016

Myths Rural Healthcare No Ones Online in Rural Markets

A major part of my job is developing marketing plans for our clients. It's a comprehensive schedule of tactics including all the ways we plan to reach our targets. And frequently, it includes digital and online components. As hard as it is to believe in 2016, an objection I still hear quite often from marketing managers and CEOs alike is that the people in their community aren't online.

This is a common misperception. They are. With the advent of smartphones and tablets, the Internet is more widely accessible than ever. Plus, more and more counties and smaller communities are getting Wi-Fi grants for their residents. Factors such as cell towers and proximity to cities matter less and less when it comes to online access. Let's look at some numbers:

  • 88.5% of the population in the United States is online.
  • 83% of people in rural communities are online.
  • 76% of Internet users search online for health information.
  • 52% of smartphone users search for health information on their phones.

At the most, 17% of people in rural communities aren't online. Dismissing an opportunity to connect with your audience because they may be part of that minority is unwise to say the least. So don't let old ideas keep you from being successful with new ones. Your patient population is much more connected than you may think. Digital and online marketing is a great way to reach them. Whether it's with an aggressive Google adwords push, fun and engaging Facebook content, informative blog posts, or enticing content offers, there are touch points at every turn for connecting with your audience.

So when you think rural healthcare marketing, think online. The platforms are there. Prospective patients are there. Your healthcare organization should be there too.

If you are ready to start building your brand's digital strategy, but are not sure where to start, download our presentation: "Rural Healthcare Marketing in a Digital World." Learn how to:

  • Control the message through your website content
  • Manage your brand on social media
  • Protect your reputation on review sites

We'll take you step by step to ensure you have a solid foundation-and the support you need-for taking your healthcare marketing online.

If you're ready to start building your brand's digital strategy, but are not sure where to start, download our presentation: Rural Healthcare Marketing in a Digital World.

Learn how to:
•  Control the message through your website content
•  Manage your brand on social media
•  Protect your reputation on review sites

We'll take you step by step to ensure you have a solid foundation--and the support you need--for taking your healthcare marketing online.

Download Free Guide

 

 

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Myths in Rural Healthcare: Rural Hospitals are a Thing of the Past

Posted on April 12, 2016

Critical Access Hospitals Are A Thing Of The Past

It's a changing world out there. Ask any rural hospital administrator. It seems like every day there's another story about a rural hospital being forced to close its doors. So it's easy to understand why the impulse for some is to just sit back and let the inevitable happen.

But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, it's one of the healthcare industry's biggest myths: that rural hospitals are a dying breed. I take issue with that notion. Rural hospitals are just like any other business in any other industry: they're fighting for their share in a competitive market. And, like any other business in any other industry, some do it with more success than others.

Here's how the smart ones stay successful:

They develop a marketing plan. All this doom and gloom talk could be a crutch, your excuse to stop trying. We don't see it that way. With challenge comes opportunities. Start by marketing like a big city hospital. Evaluate what your strengths and weaknesses are. Take the pulse of the community you serve. What is their opinion of your facility? Do they even know all the services you offer? Then, explore areas of innovation and expansion. Take action, and then promote it. Marketing gets the word out and alerts potential and present patients to the exciting changes going on at your hospital.

Offer more and embrace technology. There's no better example of a rural hospital that I can think of facing the challenge head on than Barrett Hospital and Healthcare in Dillon, Montana. An institution since 1922, they moved into a beautiful state-of-the-art facility that feels like a five-star ski lodge in 2012. They've made great strides in expanding their services and have welcomed technological advances to more efficiently serve their patients. These are substantial investments, but for Barrett, they have paid off.

"Since moving into our new hospital, we've continued to work hard to expand services and improve access to healthcare to all we serve," says Ken Westman, CEO of Barrett Hospital and HealthCare. "And we will continue to look at opportunities to grow our services to meet the needs of the communities we serve."

This attitude helped earn Barrett Hospital and Healthcare accolades as an iVantage Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015 and a 2015 National Rural Health Association Top 20 Critical Access Hospital.

Take heart. The situation isn't as dire as some of those doomsday folks might have you believe. Take heart, and then take action. Success is out there for those who know where to find it.

Still uncertain about how your rural health facility can compete with larger systems?

Our NRHA webinar--Increase Revenue In Your Sleep--discusses how establishing partnerships and relationships can lead to an increase in:
•  Revenue
•  Patient volumes
•  Number of service lines

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