Part 2: Debunking Rural Healthcare Myths

Posted on September 19, 2017

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By: Mike Milligan, President

In this blog series, we'll discuss the common myths surrounding rural healthcare - and give you some myth-busting tools. Here is Part 2 of our blog series. You can find Part 1 here.


Myth: Everyone Should Get An Equal-Sized Piece of the Marketing Pie

I've found this "squeaky wheel" myth can be particularly tricky to confront.

Even in rural hospitals, the competition for shelf space can get heated. The hard, cold truth is that service lines bring in different revenues. And while every department wants to be marketed, the focus should be driven by a set list of criteria and not emotion.

Myth Busting Tool: Focus on a Few Things and Do Them Right

How do we decide where to place our emphasis in marketing? It begins with service line prioritization.

Considerations include:

  • Downstream revenue
  • Community goodwill
  • Capacity
  • Competitive advantage
  • Unmet needs
  • Capitalizing on competitor weakness

But as healthcare leaders, our job is to best manage the limited resources of our rural hospital. Decisions should be made based on agreed-upon criteria and alignment with the goals outlined in your strategic plan. And as our clients have often heard me say, "marketing should focus on doing a finite amount of things very well, rather than trying to do a little bit for everyone."

Myth: We Can't Measure ROI From Marketing

You've probably heard of ROI, but you should really know about ROMI - Return on Marketing Investment.

To measure ROMI, you first need to define your organizational goals.  Sometimes these are business objectives such as:

  • Increasing volumes of a specific procedure or service line by a certain percentage
  • Growing patient volumes
  • Strengthening physician referrals
  • Expanding revenue

Or, you could have communication objectives such as:

  • Increasing website visits
  • Maximizing community education event attendances
  • Escalating social media engagement

Myth Busting Tool: Show Me the ROMI!

Now it's time for the fun part - analyzing the fruits of your labor. While I enjoy every part of the process with our clients, from initial planning through execution, my favorite part is when they get to see the ROMI.

To give you an idea of what success might look like, I'll recap the results of recent campaigns at a rural Montana hospital. In this case, the goals were to:

  • Build hospital-employed PCPs and OB services
  • Increase volumes for specialty services
  • Tell the hospital's story

To accomplish these goals, we launched campaigns that focused on both the providers and the services. The challenge was to increase awareness of the primary care providers and increase patient volumes. The campaign showcased how the providers are relatable to everyday Montanans. We highlighted providers' interests, hobbies, and what they love about living in Montana. Additional campaigns highlighted their full suite of OB and primary care services.

The Results:

In a six-month period, primary care visits increased by 16 percent and total deliveries increased by a whopping 80 percent - clearly busting that myth about ROI.

Many more rural healthcare myths exist, but with the right strategy you can change those perceptions. Take advantage of the internal resources you currently have available and capitalize on your strengths as rural healthcare providers.


Want to Learn More?

Join Mike Milligan's presentation, Busting Rural Healthcare Myths, at the Fall NRHA Conference in Kansas City to learn the best avenues for building awareness of the quality staff and services available at your rural hospital. Click here for more details about this event.


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