Marketing to Prevent Patient Outmigration

Hospital Marketing: Fighting Outmigration with High-Profile Patients

Often people think the bigger city automatically means better healthcare when actually your local hospital provides excellent care. group

Featuring high profile community leaders in the hospital’s marketing can help address the outmigration of your market.  We’re all sometimes guilty of thinking “bigger is better” but it’s not always the case.  How to fight this battle?  Consider using community leaders in your advertising.  An Alabama hospital did this very successfully with both their cardiac and cancer programs-even though they were only 45 miles from the highly-touted UAB hospital.

Some considerations when implementing  testimonials:

1.    Show the patient in their work role, be it mayor, judge, civic leader, minister, athletic star or beloved high school teacher. 

2.    Let the ad copy tell their success story and how life is back to normal now.

3.    Have the patients describe in their own words the attention and care they received at your hospital.

4.    Rotate several patients in a campaign and let the impact build with each new patient story.

5.    Use references to the doctors and nurses who provided their care.

Former patients who’ve had good outcomes and attentive care are often eager to share their story.  And their story may just be the best story for your hospital to tell.


Hospital Marketing: Can You Stop Patient Out-Migrating?

image010Consumers who are younger and more internet savvy are more likely to travel out of market.

Although there is much discussion these days about patients traveling out of their local market for healthcare services, the practice is not as prevalent as it seems. Only 2% of patients travel to hospitals more than 100 miles from their home according to a study by Thomson Reuters. But those who do usually have some common characteristics. According to the study:

  • They are affluent
  • Tend to be younger – under the age of 54
  • Married
  • Select hospitals based on reputation
  • Value latest technology
  • Use the internet for medical research

Even though you hear a good bit about mainly celebrities who travel out of the country for healthcare procedures, which are not provided in the U.S., or because the cost is lower, this practice is not very prevalent. It is more likely that a person would travel domestically to seek healthcare. There are some obvious and unalterable reasons some travel for services – they require specialized services not available in their local market.

Others, and the ones marketing professions can impact, are those who research to find a “top hospital”. These households are heavily penetrated with media and they use the Internet to research hospital ratings and the availability of the latest technology. Hospital marketers should engage this group by being transparent and providing information about the hospital’s ratings, value of services, physician expertise, and available technology. Hospital websites and non-traditional media are strong venues for communicating to these individuals.

The good news for community hospitals and regional medical centers is that healthcare is still local. 98% of inpatient discharges are for patients within 100 miles of the hospital.

So yes, the domestic healthcare traveler has some common characteristics and can be targeted with specific media.  But local competition is the key battleground and that is where the fight is waged and the victory is determined.