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Rural Hospitals Face an Uphill Battle: Why Internet Marketing Is Your Secret Weapon

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As a rural or critical access hospital (CAH), your local community depends on you.

Rural hospitals serve nearly 57 million people in the U.S. and tend to be some of the largest employers in their local areas. However, they often struggle to compete with other healthcare providers in their regions—for many reasons: lower population densities, outmigration of patients and medical professionals, limited financial resources, an uneven payor mix, and more. Meanwhile, the ongoing uncertainty concerning healthcare legislation makes the path all the more difficult to navigate.

78 rural hospitals have shut down across the nation since January 2010, according to the NC Rural Health Research Program, and others struggle to maintain sufficient patient volumes.

So how can rural hospitals beat the odds and improve their success in their local markets? One strategy is to raise awareness about the quality of your hospital’s services and to get more local patients to choose your facility instead of traveling to the closest city hospital. This requires building exposure and trust with patients in your surrounding communities—and letting them know your hospital’s strengths as a local healthcare provider.

And why do that on the Internet? The answer is simple: this is where prospective patients are going today to search for, learn about, and engage with healthcare providers. According to research by Google, 84% of patients use both online and offline sources to research hospitals, with popular online sources including search engines, hospital websites, and health information sites.

Building the Right Exposure for Your Hospital

As the patient journey becomes more and more digitally focused, it becomes essential for your rural hospital to have a powerful presence across numerous digital channels, such as your website, search engines, social media sites, YouTube, and more.

When your hospital has this type of well-rounded web presence, you can:

  • Get found by more patients at the exact moment that they are seeking healthcare services in your local area
  • Create a web presence that actually reflects the high quality of your hospital’s healthcare services
  • Build awareness about the benefits of choosing your hospital as a local provider
  • Get the attention of doctors, specialists, and other medical professions you may want to recruit to your healthcare team

While Internet marketing obviously won’t solve major systemic issues in the healthcare industry such as government reimbursements and local economic challenges, it can help you better position your rural hospital for success. What you need is a modern, patient-focused website that implements the latest web design and SEO strategies, coupled with digital marketing campaigns that drive the right type of traffic to your website.

Our hospital marketing experts at Scorpion understand the challenges your organization is facing as a rural hospital, and we’re here to help. We will be at the Rural Hospital Innovation Summit in San Diego from May 9-12, 2017, which is held by the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). If you are going to be at the event and would like to discuss how you can improve your rural hospital’s online presence, feel free to come chat with us. You can also call us at 888.820.4511 or contact us online at any time!


About the Author
Brittany McClure is a marketing account manager at Scorpion where she helps healthcare organizations strategize and execute effective digital marketing campaigns. With over a decade of customer service experience and years of experience in Internet marketing, Brittany helps clients increase their online exposure, attract more patients, and grow their organizations. When she is not working, she enjoys baking, watching football (rooting for the Tampa Bay Bucs), and spending time with her friends, her boyfriend, and their puppy Clark.