It’s no surprise that the word “growth” gets tossed around a lot in healthcare and hospital systems. Acquiring new patients, increasing revenue, and consolidation with the goals to grow a network are main concerns for practically anyone in the medical field.
While the focus tends to be on budget goals, there is a huge opportunity for hospitals and larger healthcare systems to grow in 2020, as smaller practices struggle to remain financially independent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether the strategy to grow involves disrupting competitor referrals or adding innovative services to appeal to consumer interests, there are a few key cornerstones that lead to success.
These cornerstones of healthcare systems are not new or revolutionary, but are critical basic business goals and structures. Growth strategies begin with a need for services – in healthcare, the need is always increasing and present. The goal for healthcare growth then relies on how they differentiate themselves from their competitors. The strategy rests entirely on the key cornerstones of reality and sustainability.
Cornerstones of Growth and Sustainability
Efficiency is a building block to success for all practices and hospital systems. On-time appointments, effective nursing and staffing, and availability of services attract and retain physicians and referrals. Physicians are more likely to increase referrals when a system is efficient and effective. An efficient system brings in quality physicians and providers, but will also give patients a positive experience.
Patients focus on getting in and out of their appointments – total efficiency. This includes a practice being close to home. Knowing your target demographics and understanding who makes healthcare decisions and how they make their decisions. Getting to the core of what your patients value and how you can be the “answer” to the problems is key to growing.
A crucial part of growth is the experience of the patient. But it’s also the experience of the physician. While a patient’s experience may rely on hospital food options and parking availability, it also involves safety, respect, and so much more.
A patient expects quality care – perfection, even – when it comes to the care they recieve. They want to feel that their care is the best their doctor can offer and that their care is collaborative, coordinated between specialists, and trustworthy. The experience is often skewed by hearing other patients talk about their experiences, and hospital systems need to recognize that building trust and reassurance of services is a critical element of growth.
However, experiences also affect physicians. When a lengthy bureaucratic process stands between them and giving their patient the proper care they need, a physician can be “disenchanted” with the system. In turn, physicians may change referral patterns and begin to look at other systems where services are better.
While hospitals and healthcare systems may be doing the right things to align their efficiencies and services, they commonly miss the mark on creating a narrative that attracts their target audience. What this means is that they’re doing the right kind of work, but they aren’t bringing in the right patients. Each healthcare system and hospital has a specific demographic and target audience who is motivated to receive care there. But if their campaigns don’t speak to those “pain points,” or things that patients need solutions for, then the effort is lost.
The message and narrative a healthcare system curates needs to attract patients and build trust and credibility. A strategy that includes all assets to target that specific demographic creates a connection. All marketing efforts should be developed with those demographics and pain points in mind so they attract the right audience, and therefore convert leads. What this means for physicians is that they want people to book appointments.
The power and effectiveness of the message is the key cornerstone of healthcare growth and building a sustainable practice and business plan.