5 Simple Ways a Hospital Can Build a Stellar Reputation

"I've never heard of that hospital before."

These are words no CEO ever wants to hear about his or her hospital, especially as pressure mounts to reduce costs, and hospitals may not have as many marketing or public relations funds as they used to. Hospitals are being forced to think more creatively to attract paying patients and may have complex strategies to make their name known as a top institution. However, there are some simple ways hospitals can build a great reputation. Here are five examples.

1. Think nationally. Edna Kaplan, president of KOGS Communication, suggests hospitals supplement local media exposure by aiming for regional or national exposure. "Reprints from Tennis Magazine, Ladies' Home Journal and other national media outlets can be placed in high traffic areas of the hospital for patients, visitors and staff," she says. "Even local exposure can be effectively displayed throughout the hospital so patients [and] visitors see the third-party credibility."

2. Focus on patient safety and outcomes. Demonstrating patient safety and consistent, high-quality outcomes shows a hospital's commitment to the community and can help it become the place "to go" for healthcare. Beyond achieving high quality, though, hospitals should also make an effort to publicize its performance. For example, Ms. Kaplan suggests "using capnography to measure ventilation rather than the far less reliable pulse oximetry — and talking about it."

3. Talk about guidelines. Similar to publicizing performance on quality metrics, hospitals can build their reputation by discussing their compliance with clinical guidelines. "Many hospitals don't use their websites all that effectively," Ms. Kaplan says. "One thing they could do is print guidelines and talk about how they adhere to them."

4. Improve internal communication. Hospitals should have strong internal communication so everyone in the organization knows the key issues and how to talk about them. "People feel much better when they know what's going on — and that translates into more cooperative activity that is good for the overall image of the hospital," says Sarah Sherwood, founder and principal of Sherwood Communications.

5. Know your stars.
Ms. Sherwood suggests the hospital's communication team know the top performers at the hospital "and those who can communicate the successes of the hospital. These stories are often dramatic and can have strong news appeal."

More Articles on Hospital Strategy:

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Dr. Atul Gawande: Should Hospitals Follow the Cheesecake Factory Model?

5 New Questions Hospitals Should Address in Ambulatory Planning

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