The Functions of a Hospital Marketing Department
It is important to understand how a hospital functions in order to define the role of a hospital marketing department. Once you understand how a hospital operates and where it derives revenue, you will begin to clearly see the role a hospital marketing professional plays within the organization.
The Physician’s Workshop
It has often been said that a “hospital is the physicians workshop.” This statement is extremely accurate. One of the key functions of the hospital marketing department, is to help the hospital physician relations personnel to communicate the services the hospital offers to local doctors. The physician relations professional’s goal is to encourage the doctor use the hospital's facilities to treat their patients.
A surgeon is one example of a key hospital customer. The surgeon needs to use the hospital’s surgical suite in order to operate on a patient. The surgeon needs an Anesthesiologist, Surgical Nurses and many other hospital services and personnel in order to perform the surgery. The surgeon cannot operate on a patient in their own office, so it is essential to use the hospital facilities to perform operations.
After the operation, the surgeon’s patient needs to recover in the hospital. The hospital bills the patient’s insurance for both the surgery and the hospital stay. Billing for these services brings in substantial revenue to the hospital.
A key role of the hospital marketing department is to provide service and support to hospital business development professionals as they market the services of the hospitals to physicians.
Marketing Hospital Physicians
When a physician joins the medical staff of a hospital, the hospital often will offer marketing department services to the physician in order to grow the doctor’s practice. Each time the doctor uses hospital facilities to treat a patient the hospital makes money. The more patients, the more money for the hospital. Therefore many hospital marketing departments work tirelessly to promote key physician practices.
Hospital marketers look for physicians who are highly motivated and need to use the hospital facilities to treat patients. Marketing will often help physicians create websites, promote their online presence and generate publicity for the doctor. The more patients the doctor brings to the hospital, the more revenue that is generated for both the physician and hospital.
Promoting Hospital Physician Groups
Hospitals will often organize their own physician groups which enjoy integrated promotion. These groups are carefully constructed with physicians specialties that are symbiotic with the hospital facilities and personnel. Hospital physician groups are promoted strongly by the marketing department within the hospital. Promoting the group, brings patients to the hospital and the group’s physicians use the hospital facilities to treat these patients.
Consumer Focused Servicelines
Hospital marketing departments also promote key consumer services to the local community. These services are often called Servicelines. You will find that many hospitals have commonly offered service lines.
Women’s services is a key service-line that is supported by hospital marketing professionals. The most common service offered in this area is pregnancy related services. For instance, most hospitals have a birthing center where women deliver their babies. Hospitals work closely with local Obstetricians who then refer women to give birth.
Besides operating labor and delivery suites, hospital’s also offer surgical services such as C-Sections, baby intensive care units NICU’s and hospital recovery rooms for mothers after birth.
While most mothers are simply told which hospital they will be delivering at by their physicians, their are competitive markets where women can actually choose the hospital at which they will deliver. In these cases, hospital marketing departments create compelling promotional campaigns to entice women to have their babies at a specific hospital.
A hospital can receive $20K or more reimbursement by simply providing birthing services. If the delivery requires other services such as a C-Section, the hospital revenue increases since the hospital will gain reimbursement for both the surgical procedure and the up to three day hospital stay it requires.
In cases where Obstetricians are on multiple hospital Medical Staffs, marketing departments work intensely to court both the physicians and their patients in order to entice them to deliver a a specific hospital.
Centers of Excellence
Hospitals also often set up centers of excellent where a physician or a physician group offers services that creates a destination for patients looking for treatments offered by experienced medical practitioners.
For instance, a group of Nephrologists (kidney doctors) may join to form a Renal center at a local hospital. The hospital will allow space and work hard to provide the physicians will highly specialized equipment and facilities needed to treat kidney patients. The hospital marketing department will then promote this center of excellence to patients using publicity, advertising, web and social media promotion.
Internal Marketing Department Functions
A hospital marketing department also often provides support for administrative projects involving internal communications. For example, hospital administration may task the marketing department with communicating important information to employees or leading communication efforts regarding quality improvement activities.
THe marketing department may also need to produce internal communications materials such as annual reports and other hospital digital and traditional publications.
Hospital marketing personnel also need to be skilled in interacting with the media. The role of the marketing department can also include media relations functions such as interfacing with reporters, promoting doctors to local and national publications and organizing press conferences.
A hospital marketing professional will likely wear many hats in their role with the organization. They will support the hospital’s efforts to court the business of local physicians, promote the service lines of the hospital to the public, offer internal communication support and assist the organization with media relations. Hospital marketing departments provide a wide range of support to the organizations they serve.
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