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Differences Between Healthcare Marketing for Hospitals vs. Private Practices

by | May 26, 2020

Healthcare marketing is not a one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, the size and offerings of a healthcare service provider have major implications on the marketing strategies and tactics that should be used. Patient volumes, service line offerings, and more all affect how healthcare providers should spend their marketing dollars. It’s important to know the role each of these play in creating a smart and effective marketing program.

Here are 4 big differences between healthcare marketing for large hospitals and institutions versus marketing for small private practices and clinics.Hospitals vs Private Practice

Hospital Marketing Includes Multiple Service Lines

Private practices and specialty clinics usually treat specific conditions or provide a single service – think of family medicine practices or specialists such as dermatologists. All of their marketing budget goes to promoting that primary focus.

On the other hand, hospitals manage multiple service lines and specialties. For effective marketing, it’s ideal for hospitals to strategically allocate marketing budgets based on the needs of each service line, rather than creating an overall budget equally divided between all service lines.

For example, OB/GYN service lines often operate at near capacity for many hospitals, whether it’s due to little other competition or a popular physician with loyal patients. So, the marketing budget for that service line can be smaller. The excess money saved in that service line can be used for a line that may be underperforming, especially if there is a new doctor or service to promote. This can be seen in specialties such as orthopedics, which can be very competitive between hospitals and has a potential for high profits.

While this may seem rather obvious, implementing it isn’t as easy as it may seem. Marketing departments face internal pressure from physicians, individual departments, and staff who all want to be the focus of marketing campaigns. We see this all the time. By introducing an overall strategic budgeting plan based on performance and well-defined goals, hospital marketing departments can take control without infighting or political turmoil.

Hospitals are More Visible in Communities

Hospitals are more than just a business to their communities. They are often viewed as a community resource and as a leader in the area. At the very least, everyone knows the name of the hospitals in their towns. Independent practices simply don’t have the same level of name recognition.

Overcoming lack of name recognition can be a huge hurdle for clinics, specialists, and private practices. How does an independent private practice, especially one that is new, compete with established names and large institutions?

First of all, it doesn’t happen overnight. However, being a small or new practice can actually be a marketing advantage when competing with the top dogs.

Marketing the benefits of personalized care, more facetime with surgeons, having state-of-the-art technology, or being trained in the latest techniques are all messaging points that may be applicable, especially to targeted patients who are actively searching for a specialist. Combine a targeted digital advertising campaign with active community engagement and a strong PR campaign, and small practices can position themselves to compete anywhere.

Hospitals Need More Patients to Thrive

There are vastly different patient loads for small private practices versus larger hospitals. These volume differences affect healthcare marketing campaigns in a big way. Hospitals simply need more people walking through their doors to remain sustainable.

Because hospitals have higher patient volumes, they usually have larger marketing budgets. With a larger budget comes more opportunities. For example, hospitals often have the means to invest in branding campaigns that might include digital “billboard ads,” which are designed to keep your hospital’s brand front-and-center as often as possible for everyone in your target audience.

Digital billboard-style ads, which are optimized to maximize impressions, constantly remind people that your institution can do it all, or has the most resources, or best tech, or whatever your brand promise is. These ads increase the hospital’s top of mind awareness, so when people finally do need to see a specialist, their first thought is the institution they are reminded of most often.

Physicians Are the Face of Private Practices

A hospital can promote its technology, its history in the community, its staff sizes, or all of its incredible offerings. Those are all good things. Private practices actually have a unique advantage though. Smaller practices can use the faces of their doctors more effectively, especially at physician-owned practices.

Physicians who own their own practices or clinics are permanent fixtures, unlike salaried or contracted physicians at larger institutions. Using these real physicians as spokespeople in marketing campaigns can build trust with patients, which is key to building relationships and evoking emotional responses. Successfully developing trust can lead to significant growth, both in patient volume and in digital influence.

Improve Your Hospital or Private Practice Marketing Now

If your hospital, clinic, or practice is looking for a partner to work together with in developing a strategic marketing plan designed for your specific needs, send me an email anytime at mklein@wetellyourstory.com.

Matt Klein - VP Account Services
Matt Klein believes that the business of healthcare is personal — because healthcare is personal. It’s a subject he’s very passionate about. Throughout his career, he’s worked with a wide variety of clients across the spectrum of healthcare, including large national companies such as Advocate Health Care and Pfizer, regional powerhouses including St. Vincent’s Health System and IU Health, and smaller, specialized facilities such as Advocate Eureka, Orthopedic Sports Enhancement Center, and Fort Wayne Medical Oncology and Hematology.

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