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Trends in Community Hospitals Part 1: Ousting Outmigration

Patients of community hospitals have become knowledgeable healthcare consumers, with more financial responsibility for their own care, access to online resources and more non-traditional care choices. As a result, community hospitals are facing all new challenges to address in their marketing.

To uncover some of the common issues facing community hospitals, and how marketing can help address these problems, Frederick Swanston conducted a survey among hospital marketing managers in 2017 and 2018. This blog post is the first of three blog posts discussing what we uncovered in our research.

Outmigration: A Growing Problem

In both years of our survey, 86% of respondents reported experiencing outmigration. In 2017, 25% of our respondents ranked outmigration among their top two challenges. In 2018, that percentage rose to 30%. Our 2018 survey shows an 8-point increase from 14% in 2017 to 22% in 2018 in the reported outmigration for medical service lines.

With this rising issue, how can community hospitals respond? In 2016, athenahealth Inc., (a leading provider of cloud-based services for hospitals and health systems), authored a white paper titled “Getting Fit for the Future: Community Hospitals in a Time of Transition.” They suggest community hospitals leverage their close relationship with the community to combat the growing problem: “The future of the community hospital may be as part of a wellness network aimed at improving and maintaining health. The patient-centered community hospital will be the anchor of this new kind of system.”

As a healthcare marketer, here are some questions to think about as your hospital attempts to combat outmigration:

  • What are your service line strengths?
  • In which service lines are you experiencing the most outmigration and competition?
  • What are community perceptions of your hospital?
  • What are community perceptions of your service line mix?
  • In which service lines does your community look to you for expertise?
  • What does your market think you do best?
  • What does your competition do better?

Frederick Swanston has helped hospitals across the country address outmigration through strategic, effective marketing. To find out how we could help your hospital, fill out the contact form below, and stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 of this blog series focusing on community hospitals.