Community and rural hospitals are and extremely important parts of the healthcare ecosystem. However, if you look at the websites of community, rural, and critical access hospitals you'll see that many of them have very dated websites (we're not going to get into that here, but that's why Novel Koncept exists), and they also don't have blogs. This is a missed opportunity because blogging can help these hospitals serve their patients better. By creating useful content, community and rural hospitals can engage their patients and provide them with valuable information. This can help improve the health of their patient population and even prevent metropolitan hospitals from poaching their patients.
Why Community Hospitals Don't Have Blogs
So, why is it that community hospitals uniformly don't have a blog? Well, if you live in this space (like we do) there's a few reasons that are self-evident.
1. Resources? What Resources?
Who's going to write all of this content? These are small operations, they're strapped for resources, and the resources they do have are often dedicated to the business of acute care.
2. Lack of Know How.
If you've never undertaken the task of building a blog from the ground up it can seem like a daunting task. Not only do you have to come with the content, but then you also need to design and build the blog itself, which can be a lot of work if you're not familiar with how to do it. There's also a lot of details such as the use of images, alt text, meta data, and other factors that usually come up when you dip your toes into the SEO pool (which is extremely deep BTW).
3. Nobody Else Is Doing It.
Yep, we've already touched on this as it's literally the SINGLE problem we're talking about in this blog. It's the absolute exception and not the rule that community hospitals have blogs. In fact, it's so unusual that when we come across one it really stands out. This scenario very reasonbly begs the question of 'if nobody else is doing it why should we?'. Actually, that's JUST the reason to do it! It creates an opportunity to take a leadership role amongst your peers and there are a host of other benefits that can be realized if strategically coordinated.
6 Strategic Benefits of Blogs for Community Hospitals
Make no mistake about it! Creating, building, promoting, and growing a blog over time is a ton of work. Generally speaking, you will NOT see the needle move in a big way over the short term. Investment in a blog is a long game move. You're building a strong foundation over time that will serve numerous important strategic purposes. We've got six specific strategic reasons why community, rural, and critical access hospitals should invest in a quality blog. Let's go...
1 . Proactively Connect Patients with Value
Most hospitals, regardless of size, don't acknowledge the existence of the patient until they cross the threshold of their facility. These days that's a big mistake! In order to remain relevant and keep patients from leaving for the competition you need to connect with them where they are...and most of them are online.
A blog is an excellent way to reach out and provide value without waiting for the patient to come to you. Creating an array of blogs about content that would be highly valuable to your patients offers a tremendous service. If you have patients that have been to your hospital for a cardiac event; send them blogs about heart health. Send blogs about women's health to, you guessed it, women. Send senior citizens articles articles relevant to them. Send the children of senior citizens articles about what to look for in terms of spotting the early signs of neurological decline within their parents.
The Big Deal
Community hospitals should be proactive about offering value to their patient population, and blogs represent a great low-cost way to achieve this.
2. Improve the Health of Your Community
Carrying on from the first point, by intentionally putting specific content in front of specific patients you can help improve their health. If you're reaching out and educating your community about how to live healthier lives you are, in effect, making them less likely to get sick in the first place. It's a proactive way of helping people stay healthy that also happens to be very good for business. When you add value to the people of your community you're building a relationship with them. Relationships are build on trust, and trust is everything.
The Big Deal
Getting the right information into the hands of the right people can improve health and wellness.
3. Touchpoints to Create a Relationship
Yup, we're on a roll here. If you're only acknowledging the patient when they enter your facility then you're missing a big opportunity to develop a relationship. Relationships are key to customer loyalty, advocacy, and evangelism. Creating content that is valuable to your community will help you develop relationships with them which will pay dividends over the long term. If your patients have a relationship with your hospital, and they trust your hospital, then they are and forever will be your loyal patient. This is more important than ever given the changing landscape of virtual care.
The Big Deal
Relationships are built upon trust and trust is everything. A blog represents a strategic opportunity for smart community hospitals to connect with your patients on an ongoing basis to foster a relationship over time.
4. Proactive Strategic Moves to Deter Metropolitan Hospital Marauders
Deloitte's recent study on Hospital Revenue Trends make it clear that patients would generally prefer to avoid hospitals, and that the trend of virtual care is unquestionably a staple and not a fad. An array of specialty healthcare services have have been on the steep incline for the past several years as a result of patients not wanting to go to hospitals. These specialty services are able to focus on a slice of healthcare, offer this service at a transparent and fair price, and offer a customer experience that's more akin to a serene spa than a chaotic hospital. These specialty healthcare service organizations erode significant the revenue of metropolitan hospitals, and they're looking for ways to make this up.
Metropolitan hospitals are now armed with quality virtual care services, and they know your patients have smartphones in their pockets (85% according to Pew Research). By leveraging a number of advertising pathways these large hospitals can specifically target the patients typically serviced by community hospitals, tempting them with services from a big-brand hospital.
If you don't have an existing relationship with your patients, this can seem like a very appealing offer.
The Main Point
A blog can foster that relationship which in turn can strategically protect your revenue from metropolitan hospitals seeking to market to your patient population via virtual care services.
5. Generate Revenue | Reactive vs. Proactive Approaches
Most hospitals exist in a perpetual reactive state, just waiting, with doors open, for patients to come into their facility. Hospitals that are more strategic can leverage blogs to offer value, but also make their patients aware of their services. Creating content that brings out an issue, and then positions your hospital as having the solution to that problem, can generate significant amounts of revenue.
The Big Deal
A blog represents a proactive approach that smart community hospitals can strategically capitalize upon to generate revenue.
6. SEO Benefits and Web Authority
SEO is a term often thrown around by marketing nerds, and there's a ton of other technical terms that come along with it. In short SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it's the practice of making sure your website appears as the top result for relevant searches.
Blogs can improve traffic to a website by up to 55% and that's not an insignificant number. Having this traffic does a couple of things for you.
- It gives you the chance to introduce your brand to a prospective patient
- It gives you the chance to offer value to a prospective patient
- It gives you a chance to offer services to a prospective patient
Note: The three items above will ONLY work if your hospital has a website with good design
Additionally, Google notices when your website gets a significant amount of traffic. When they see this happen this signals to Google that your site must know what it's doing, and it must be offering some quality value to people performing searches. Your web authority is a big deal and blogs help with this tremendously. Of course, you've got to also have a FAST website and unfortunately most community hospital websites perform poorly according to Google PageSpeed Insights.
The Big Deal
SEO is very important to any hospital website that wants to be seen as an authority. Increased web-traffic via blogs presents numerous strategic advantages that smart community hospitals can take advantage of.
The Wrap Up
Community and rural hospitals can benefit from having a blog as a way to better serve their patients. A blog is a great place for them to share useful information that can be used to add value to their patient population. By creating content that brings out an issue, and then positions your hospital as having the solution to that problem, community hospitals can generate significant amounts of revenue. Additionally, blogs help with SEO which improves traffic to your website and signals to Google that your site offers quality value.