It should come as no surprise that people's preference in hospitals is not at the top of their list of concerns. Most people do not sit around pondering where they'd like to go if they had a heart attack or needed knee surgery. But when people do have health problems that need treatment, you absolutely want your hospital to be – and stay – at the top of their minds.
Especially now that we're in the age of Patient Empowerment, hospital marketing has never been more important. Because when health-related issues do rear their ugly head, people are making informed decisions about where they go, who they see and who they're willing to trust with their health, not to mention that of their children and loved ones.
However, during economic dips like the one we're currently facing, many hospitals are choosing to cut their hospital marketing budget. In fact, that's often the first thing to go when finances are tight. This could prove to be a huge mistake. By doing away with marketing efforts, hospitals may lose current patients, new patients and even referrals. Patients who count on appointment reminders via phone call or direct mail may simply forget about their appointment altogether or even question the hospital's or their doctor's status. People new to the area who could be potential patients may not even know your hospital exists if you do not advertise your hospital or abandon your website. Also, referring doctors and other collections may stop passing referrals your way if you've stopped communicating with them.
Here is an overview of smart hospital marketing practices:
• People form opinions about local hospitals based on stories from their friends, family and coworkers. Therefore, your current patients are an important and valuable hospital marketing tool. So be sure to maintain positive relationships with your current patients because they play a major role in recommending friends and family to your hospital, further boosting your revenue.
• Your college and physician relationships are also vital, as a referral or good recommendation from another healthcare professional will serve as yet another marketing tool that will only keep people walking through your doors.
• People rely on the internet as a standard source of information. If your hospital does not have a website, your hospital basically does not exist. If that's the case for you, make it a main priority immediately because you are missing out on patients and losing money. A website will make your hospital visible at all times, and add credibility in the minds of patients and collections alike.
• Harness the marketing power of health information. Hospital newsletters get results by educating your patients, establishing credibility and inspiring your readers to take action.
• Electronic newsletters and email communications can deliver your message to thousands of people in a matter of seconds. They're a simple and cost-effective way to reach your target without incurring any printing or mailing costs. You can communicate on any schedule – monthly, quarterly, alerts or whenever you need! Plus, your e-communications can link to your website where people can learn more about your hospital.
• Print advertising and the visual power to convince an audience to take action are essential in today's society. From newspaper ads to magazine ads to other visual communications, it's important to produce messages that inform, messages that generate response, messages that people remember.
• Rack cards are a convenient, versatile and affordable healthcare marketing tool that patients or hospital visitors can grab quickly to take with them. Rack cards can be placed just about anywhere in your hospital. They can provide information such as doctor bios, basic facts about a medical procedure, features of a new type of technology and equipment, or frequently asked questions for patients.
• Patient reminder systems are very beneficial for your patients and your hospital. Patient reminders can be as simple as a postcard, phone call, email or a text message. You can get software to streamline this process and ease the burden on your staff from doing it manually.