By Mike Milligan, President of Legato Healthcare Marketing
Rural hospitals are frantically searching for ways to regain lost volume and increase revenue. But in their rush to see immediate ROI, many overlook an important asset that drives success and financial performance: the patient experience.
A recent Press Ganey report stated, “To manage brand perceptions, earn patient loyalty and acquire new patients, healthcare organizations must leverage the full potential of patient-experience data and consider adapting their marketing strategies to appeal to consumers.”
They’re right. Hospitals that received a “superior” patient experience gained net margins that were 50% higher, on average, than those that delivered an “average” customer experience.
But what if your hospital doesn’t hit the mark when it comes to delivering on your brand promise and providing a superior, or even above average, patient experience?
Can advertising help fix your brand? Simple answer: no. Here’s why.
Too often brand identity is equated with brand. In other words, many hospitals try to give their image a facelift with tangible elements like a new logo, fresh color palette or catchy tagline. There is definitely a time and place for this. But if you’re relying on advertising to fix your brand – rather than improving the patient experience – it’s like putting lipstick on a pig.
Your brand is what the patient experiences. It’s a promise of what consumers can expect when they interact with your organization. It’s an awareness that differentiates your facility, your staff, your services from the competition and evokes an emotional connection between your hospital and consumers.
That means your branding efforts need to be reinforced by everything that happens when patients interact with your facility – from the welcome desk to your website, from bedside manner to billing—and every aspect in between.
When you can consistently deliver on your brand promise, a strong marketing strategy will bring it to life. At every step of the patient journey, marketing helps influence consumers’ attitudes and behaviors, translating into increased volume and revenue that your rural hospital needs – now.
I’ve worked with hundreds of rural health CEOs in my career, so I understand the reluctance to spend money on something that isn’t a “sure thing.” But I can assure you that when done correctly, marketing is the key to growing and sustaining your brand.
To help your rural hospital make the most of your marketing budget, Legato has developed two marketing planning guides: “Making the Most of Marketing” (Part 1) and “Rural Healthcare Marketing that Works” (Part 2). Click on the below images to download: