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Lemonade, Anyone? The Upside of Marketing Healthcare in a Recession

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, August 26, 2009

A Chance to Give Back
And sometimes tough times present an opportunity to do the exact opposite of what your gut—and your budget—tells you to do, with excellent results. Early this year, Lehigh Valley Health Network, a 988-licensed-bed hospital system in Allentown, PA, renewed its focus on marketing the organization's financial counseling services—a department of six full-time employees who work with patients to help them find ways to pay for care.

"To be blunt, it doesn't make financial sense to do this," says Charles G. Lewis, senior vice president of development, marketing, and public affairs at Lehigh. But, he adds, "It's very fulfilling and quite frankly I'm proud to be part of a network that makes its programs and services more available—not less available."

The campaign helped generate a 128% increase in calls from people asking for more information about the program over the same study period last year. Charity applications jumped 17.5%.

"It wasn't without risk. But life's about risk. We felt good about doing the right thing," Lewis says.

Read more advice from Baskin, Gandolf, Lewis, and Rosenberg about marketing in a recession in the article, "What Resonates Now."

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