How to “go country” … a rural market expansion project
In today’s healthcare landscape, it’s a growing trend: healthcare systems are expanding into rural communities as they acquire independent hospitals and physician practices. While this sounds simple enough, the lengthy process requires careful market analysis, budgeting, planning and deliberate involvement and communication with key stakeholders and physicians from the start. When you consider this, along with the inevitable hiccups along the way, the process gets more complicated.
Recently, The Roberts Group worked with a client as it expanded into its rural secondary service area, a close-knit community that sorely needed another option for healthcare services. Following a four-phase framework, detailed marketing and communications plan and flexible timeline, the new rural clinic launched and is experiencing record patient volumes.
Here’s a bit more about the framework we followed. We …
- Assessed the market through a needs assessment and review of research data
- Defined the scope and scale of the project to reflect the needs of the community
- Executed the plan and stayed the course, remaining flexible (and patient!)
- Evaluated the results, tweaking the plan as needed along the way
The marketing and communications team worked alongside the operations team from the start, which offered us invaluable insight on the project and continual opportunities to communicate with key community stakeholders and area physicians throughout the process. Encouraging this cooperation and buy-in helped propel the process along (mostly) smoothly and create goodwill in the community.
A marketing campaign theme we created positioned the client as providing area residents with “a choice for high-quality healthcare, closer to home.” This resonated with the community, which had been lacking said choice. Market research showed that residents either received healthcare from the limited local sources, or drove 30 plus minutes to the nearest, larger healthcare facility.
After a successful grand opening and open house, this rural outreach clinic continues to see patient volumes grow. Since its launch nine months ago, the clinic has even expanded its staff due to patient volumes and demand.
If you’re attending this year’s SHSMD conference in Washington, D.C., join Julia Hansch, Account Executive at The Roberts Group, as she presents this case study with our client on Tuesday, October 12 at 2:15 pm.