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How to Make Small Hospital Marketing Budgets Count

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, September 18, 2013

To her point, organizations that believe boiling marketing campaigns down to ROI may be missing the important qualitative aspects that could help inform leaders. Hearing from real people, in their own words, how they perceive a hospital or health system is an invaluable piece of information that numbers miss.

Reach Out
For small hospitals or systems without large marketing budgets, qualitative data is relatively easy to get. It's not the only thing to rely on, but when combined with figures on whether patient volumes increased after a recent marketing push, it can become a meaningful data point.

For example, Dignity Health Hospitals of the Central Coast (DHHCC), a three-hospital system that is also part of San Francisco-based Dignity Health, recently recorded its highest turnout of walkers at this year's National Walking Day.

The annual event is part of DHHCC's community partnership with American Heart Association (AHA). But the bigger number doesn't give the complete picture of the system's relationship to the community it serves, says Lisa Dosch, AHA's executive director for the central coast division in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties who works closely with DHHCC.

"The Rotary Club of San Luis Obispo de Tolosa held their meeting at French Hospital that day (National Walking Day) and went for a walk with the entire community," says Dosch. "It's bringing people to their hospitals to enjoy the walk around the campus. They had so much fun. The president of the Rotary came to me and said, 'Hands down, we are doing this again next year.' "

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