Monday, January 4, 2016

But nobody knows who the hospital is marketing!

A common refrain heard and repeated by one or several board members time after time in hospital or health system Board meetings. In unison at that declarative statement, senior leadership and other Board members begin to nod their collective heads up and down in agreement like bubblehead dolls given away at a sporting event. Meaning that by inaction and acquiescence senior leadership is nonverbally throwing marketing under the bus.

Never mind that outpatient services are growing.

Never mind that there are hundreds if not thousands of followers on Facebook, twitter or Instagram.

Never mind that the physician referral line is sending thousands of people to the physician’s each year.

Nobody knows who the hospital is.

Because Board members see a competitor's advertisement on cable or hears a radio spot.
Or sees a competitor’s billboard or newspaper advertisement

Even using their stature as a successful small business owner or head a Fortune 1000 corporation and they know all about marketing.

Never mind that the hospital generates tens of millions of dollars in revenue and is anything but a small business. Or the hospital system generates revenue in the billions.

The hospital or health system is neither a small business nor in a cottage industry. If we can all agree on that, they why is marketing treated like that?

The healthcare market of 2016 is already markedly different than previous years. The acceleration and transformation of healthcare in becoming a consumer dominated market will only continue. New entrants, innovation and shifts in the place of care are leaving hospitals and health systems in the dust as they desperately attempt to hold onto inpatient share.  After all, a hospital is a cost center looking for a revenue stream.

Marketing is about market leadership, revenue and growth. And in many hospitals and health systems around the country, marketing departments are desperately responding to the whims of the board and senior management.

And nobody knows who the hospital is takes a life of its own because no one had the courage to lead and support marketing in the Board meetings.

Maybe the hospital or health system did not hire the right marketing talent? Maybe there is a general and continued misunderstanding of what marketing is and can do to drive revenue and growth in a consumer-dominated retail medical market?  Maybe senior leadership is just trying to bide time before retiring?

In any case, leadership is lacking.

So how about this idea for 2016? Let’s stop throwing marketing under the bus in hospital and health system Board meetings by taking the shackles off, and let marketing drive experience, revenue and growth through marketing automation and innovation, value marketing, effective social media and inbound marketing that provides the reasons why someone should choose the hospital or health system?

All it takes is senior management courage and leadership. How about it?

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

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