By: John Corpus, Vice President of Strategy
Improving healthcare in rural areas is not an easy task. Many rural areas have primary care provider shortages, long distances between hospitals, and a higher percentage of the elderly, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.
Although the amount of healthcare services in rural areas may be lacking, quality is not. Rural hospitals and most specifically, Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), may not offer all of the services of a larger metro hospital, but the services they do offer are typically of equal quality.
Fortunately, there is a national membership organization, the National Rural Health Association (NRHA), which brings rural health clinics, rural hospitals and critical access hospitals together to address their common issues and serve as an advocate through lobbying efforts.
Wisconsin is no slouch when it comes to participating in addressing issues and improving the quality of rural healthcare. For example, Wisconsin US Representative Ron Kind, member of the House Ways and Means Committee health subcommittee, was recently selected as Chair of the Rural Health Care Coalition in the House of Representatives. The Caucus is a bipartisan group of over 100 members who focus on improving access to care in rural communities.
Representative Kind was a featured speaker at the NRHA’s policy institute in Washington D.C. earlier this month. During the conference, he met with other Wisconsin rural health leaders: Tim Size, Executive Director of the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative; Jeremy Levin, Director of Advocacy of the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative; Bill Sexton, CEO of Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital; Jim O’Keefe, CEO of Mile Bluff Medical Center in Mauston; David Hartberg, CEO of Boscobel Area Health Care; and John Eich, Director of the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health; among others. (Source: Representative Kind press release).
NRHA Selects Legato as Marketing Partner
One of the most overlooked, yet extremely important, aspects of rural healthcare success is rural healthcare marketing. Many rural hospitals forgo marketing, believing that they are the only entity in the region, and therefore, do not need to promote themselves. This could not be further from the truth.
Metro hospitals and health systems, especially now with healthcare reform and the move toward Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), are looking to expand their footprint. Challenging rural hospitals for market share, or attempting to buy them outright, is an expected national trend.
Whether a rural hospital wants to remain independent or position itself in the best light possible for acquisition, it must have volume. As mentioned, marketing is integral to success, but marketing does not just mean “advertising.” It does mean assessing business development practices, planning and strategizing, developing a formal marketing & communications plan and promotion through advertising, events and PR.
To this end, we are pleased to announce that the National Rural Health Association has selected Legato as their marketing partner, citing our proven ability to market rural hospitals in Wisconsin and across the nation. So, what can we say, but “On Wisconsin.”