How Small Hospital Planners and Marketers can Manage Multiple Responsibilities within One Role
By Hank Neuhoff
For planners and marketers at small or independent hospital systems, prioritization can be one of the greatest challenges. Many who have “Marketing” in their title are also responsible for planning and strategy as well, and it’s apparent that this phenomenon is due to one of two things:
- Strategy has increasingly become a more important function for the hospital or health system so this job was given to the department that made the most sense: marketing.
- Or, the planning position was eliminated over time and the function was consolidated with the marketing function.
Regardless of why or how things progressed in the way they did, one thing is certain; planners and marketers in these situations must be strategic in their efforts and find ways to accomplish more work with fewer resources. In this post, we’ll offer some tips and suggestions on how this can be done.
Tips on How to Tackle More Work with Fewer Resources
1. Organize and categorize your facilities based on variables like service area demographics, number of beds, and/or product line offerings. Once you have them categorized, you can apply similar strategies to similar facilities, instead of creating specific strategies for each facility or forcing all of your facilities to conform to one strategy.
Some benefits of specifying strategy for different facilities:
- The hospital admins feel specifically directed instead of being asked to follow a blanket corporate strategy that may not fit well with their facility.
- Corporate skills and efforts become more specialized and a more effective partnership is established with the facility.
2. Maintain your service areas. Before demographics or market share can be analyzed, an appropriate service area must be applied. A concise service area gives you a strong foundation. Starting with a smaller service area where you have dependable, high market share allows you to explore specific growth opportunities instead of trying to manage a larger area where your focus could be spread too thin. A sprawling service area can stretch your attention, but may not result in higher revenues due to competition or other blockers.
In our years of working with healthcare strategists, marketers, and planners, we’ve found that many organizations reach too far when defining their service areas instead of solidifying their place in a more local market. Check out our Guide to Defining your Service Area and learn about our recommended ZIP code strategy.
In what may seem contrary to point number one, take time to build strong strategic service areas specific to each facility based on demographics, patient origin, and market share. Even though it might take time, building a good service area only has to be done once. Maintaining a good service area will then take less time, even with yearly maintenance checks.
The goal here is to have an informed and consistent grasp of your patient population and competitive landscape. You'll also be at peace knowing that the strategies you pursue will be focused on patient populations specific to each facility.
3. Prioritize your strategies. Marketing versus physician recruitment versus growth; attention to each of these areas is important for the health of your organization. Yet with limited time and resources, focusing on all of them at once could mean none of them get the level of attention deserved. As you meet with leadership to plan for the future, discuss an order of prioritization for each of these areas and determine which is a top priority and which can continue to operate with minimal attention, at least for the time being.
If your organization has embraced an iterative planning process, then you know that remaining nimble and flexible is key. As the year unfolds and your team meets regularly to track results and measure progress, be ready to change course and focus on a new area. If your work is paying off and one area is doing well, that could open your time to focus on the next area that needs attention.
Keeping a mindset of strategic, focused efforts in one area at a time, as opposed to widespread light touches to everything, will allow you to see big wins in each department. Over time, you’ll be able to progress your focus from marketing, to physician recruitment, to growth, and you’ll be able methodically chip away at your goals. You will begin to see “big picture” progress and keep your organization moving forward.
4. Delegate portions of your work, especially time-consuming tasks, to an outside partner who specializes in areas where your team is short-staffed or less experienced. Have this partner manage the tedious processes that slow you down, and allow your team to be more effective with their time.
As you do this, avoid turning over too much control to an outside partner and aim to keep key decision-making in-house. Your people are the true market experts, and as such, they’re the only ones who have the wisdom and local knowledge to make the right strategic decisions for your market—they just need to be empowered to do so. By outsourcing the work that could slow down teams, you allow for better strategic decisions to be made at a faster pace and with more meaningful results.
This aligns with the DIKW pyramid hierarchy of decision-making that healthcare leaders can follow to capitalize on their resources and make more informed decisions. By applying the DIKW methodology and recognizing when it’s time to outsource draining, time-consuming tasks, your team will have more reliable and actionable information with which to work. Your organization will be set up to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness across all departments.
If your hospital is feeling the strain of department consolidation and you find yourself juggling the responsibilities of several roles, consider these suggestions and apply those that will be most helpful. If your team is not delegating to an outside partner, examine whether or not that could be the best next step for your organization.
For more information on how Stratasan can help you manage your important but time-consuming tasks so you can be more efficient and effective with your limited time, contact us and schedule a discovery call today.
Article by Hank Neuhoff, Director of Continuous Improvement of Stratasan