Hospitals Have Brands Too
A company’s brand can make or break the company’s success. Branding depends on the customer’s good or bad perception of the company. Hospitals are in the business of care, and the patients are the customers. A negative attitude of a hospital affects the reputation and quality of care. This is especially true for rural hospitals. Positive community perception is one of the keys to keeping the rural hospital afloat.
Rural hospitals have more at stake
Community perception runs deeper for rural hospitals. These small hospitals serve towns where everyone knows each other. If the hospital underperforms, this leads to low community turnout. Rural hospitals are not entirely at fault. Limited access to skilled staff, poor cash flow, and slow insurance reimbursements all affect performance. By making simple tweaks and focusing on care, community perception could be the difference-maker.
Community perception affects patient volume
Rural hospitals need enough patients to stay afloat. Patient volume is directly tied to community perception. Positive experiences build trust, ensuring patients return. More importantly, word will spread about the excellent service, raising the future volume. Effective case management is one great way of increasing patient capacity. Case management is the process of using triage to help each patient quickly and covers the steps from entry to exit. The better rural hospitals get at case management, the happier and healthier the patients.
Decreasing incorrect admissions
High community trust can decrease incorrect admissions. Patients will be more willing to use outpatient services instead of the ED. Patients admitted incorrectly use additional resources and time. These errors have a direct impact on the hospital’s revenue. Using remote case management, a hospital can hire virtual case managers for added support.
Happy to stay
Leave without being seen (LWBS) happens when a patient leaves the ED without seeing a doctor. LWBS can occur due to long wait times, staffing, or inefficient case management. Hospitals can improve these figures in a few ways. Telemedicine, for instance, is a great way to prevent patients from leaving. Telemedicine uses either email, video, voice, or text to provide medical advice and support. Rural areas that lack access to doctors and staff can tap into a remote team of medical professionals to help. This helps LWBS, incorrect admissions, and hospital volume.
Community feedback is critical.
Can a hospital change community perception? Patient feedback can be the key to a thriving rural hospital. To get feedback, hospitals can use surveys like CAHPS. CAHPS is a national hospital survey that asks patients critical questions about service. With this data, hospitals can make changes to raise quality. Once the hospital regularly fixes gaps in service, community opinion will change.
It’s all about the people.
In most cases, rural hospitals are a community’s only hope for healthcare. A poor community perception dissuades patients from going to the hospital. The slippery slope can spell the end for a much-needed service. At the same time, a positive reputation brings more patients, creates happier staff, and improves performance. Positive community perception does not happen overnight. Hospitals must have the right systems and people in place to create a space focused on care. Use remote case management, telemedicine, and execute on feedback from surveys. Rural hospital management can speak with a medical staffing solution team for more help.