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Help: How Community Hospital Marketing Can Stand Out From Acclaimed Hospitals

WRITTEN by: Scott Rogers |
categories: Healthcare

Jun 2014


Unless you are from the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic or perhaps the MD Anderson Cancer Center, your hospital is a challenger. There is a bigger hospital somewhere trying to crowd you out of your market. If you are a rural community hospital, it is the big hospital in the nearest mid-sized city trying to entice patients in your community to come to them. If you are the mid-sized city hospital, the hospital in the nearest big city or attached to a nearby research university is trying to take away your more medically complicated cases. Even if you are that major hospital in a big city, the big national centers (Hello Cleveland! Hi Mayo! Hey MD Anderson!) are trying to get patients to get on a plane and come visit their institute.

Now, every hospital is trying to expand their service area and pull in the most profitable patients from more and more territories. So what do you do when a bigger hospital from outside your regular service area tries to draw in your patients and physicians?

Sun Zu said it best: It is the rule in war, if ten times the enemy's strength, surround them; if five times, attack them; if equal, engage them; if fewer, be able to evade them.

When you are the challenger hospital, you need to use your smaller size to your advantage and communicate those advantages to your patients and physicians. Not everyone wants to shop at a big department store. People value the personal service and intimacy of a small neighborhood store. If you communicate it right, the same advantages can apply to your community hospital.

The advantages of your community hospital:

  •  It is closer to home.

Lots of procedures require patients to be at the hospital early in the morning. If the hospital is closer to home, he will spend the night before in his own home rather than a hotel. And if he is going to be in the hospital for more than a day, it will be much easier for his friends and family to visit him at a closer hospital. Both of these factors have a direct impact on the healing of the patients. And follow up visits will be much easier as well.

  • Easier parking.

Most community hospitals have simple, surface parking lots preferred by most people, especially seniors. Larger hospitals tend to have multiple garages, which can be confusing. And to top it off, they usually charge the patient an annoying and outrageous fee.

  • Flexible Mobility.

The patient won’t have to walk as far to get to where they are going: Seriously, are they going in for a hospital treatment or switching terminals at the Atlanta Airport? That walk seems about the same to me. At a small hospital this can be far less intimidating. With a shorter walk, the patient is less likely to get lost in the facility

  • The patient will be viewed as a person and a neighbor, not a number.

The people who come to your community hospital are your neighbors and your friends. The staff knows this, feels this and treats the patients accordingly. At a large hospital, patients sometimes get the feeling that they are person #10,486 coming through the door for procedure #155-A.

  • Very often smaller hospitals will have shorter waiting times for procedures.

When a patient has a serious medical concern, they don’t want to wait two weeks to have the necessary tests done.

  • Small Circles.

Your specialists and the patient’s primary care physician probably know each other and talk frequently. This is often overlooked when leaving town to another hospital. The more information the specialist has about the overall health and history of the patient, the better care she or he is able to provide. Also, the patient's family physician will be updated on the patient’s status much more quickly.

  • Focused and Intimate Staff Training

An exceptional patient experience is one area that every challenger hospital can strive to achieve. And a key to an exceptional patient experience is consistent training of your staff, which is far easier to achieve with a smaller staff.

So don’t be afraid to play David to the bigger hospital’s Goliath. If you are clear about who you are, who your patients are and where you excel compared to the competition, you should always be able to land a stone to the forehead. But remember: you are probably the Goliath to some other hospital.

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