Bill Swanston

Community hospitals face a litany of unique challenges, including a higher proportion of Medicare and Medicaid patients, lower discounts on supplies and ever-increasing compliance costs. But of all these, the trend toward outmigration can be the most difficult to overcome.

Rural hospitals throughout the country are experiencing a sharp decline in inpatient volume. In fact, three out of four hospitals receive 60% of their revenue from outpatient care.

In the midst of a losing battle against outmigration, Cullman Regional Medical Center in rural Alabama sought the help of Frederick Swanston. We conducted extensive research with the residents of Cullman to get a better idea of the reasons driving outmigration.

Research revealed that the people of Cullman wanted more direct control of their health, wanted expert “teachers” and “coaches” to guide their health decisions and focus on wellness and prevention. And they saw Cullman Regional as a place where they’d find only treatment, not guidance.

Though Cullman Regional and many rural hospital facilities are robust enough to offer exactly the kind of healthcare advisors that Cullman’s residents desired, that message was not being communicated to the patients in the community.

Marketing to the rescue.

Frederick Swanston concluded that a brand message focused on wellness and prevention could stem the outmigration tide for Cullman Regional Medical Center.

As today’s patients are increasingly taking a more proactive approach to their health, it’s important for community hospitals to remind the people in their area about the healthcare assessment and specialty services available at their facilities.

Naturally, many rural hospitals can offer the same preventative tests, scans, and procedures that are available at large hospitals. An effective marketing effort to spread the word to about these capabilities could go a long way of keeping patients from making a long drive to get a relatively simple test that is available close to home.

As a healthcare marketer, here are some messages to share with your local community to help better position your hospital to reduce outmigration:

Breadth of Preventative Resources
Let prospective patients know about your facility’s proactive health and wellness resources – not just the technical abilities, but also the expertise of your doctors.

Innovative Excellence
Tell the story of your successes and outstanding service lines. Let them know that local experts are available.

Community Commitment
Reinforce the local aspect of your hospital. Your facility is staffed by members of the community: this is where they live, the place that’s most important to them. You’re committed to the community because that’s your home, too.

Let Frederick Swanston help your hospital address outmigration and other issues with effective strategic marketing – contact us here.