The Making of “Corona Country” & Our Commitment to Rural Health

We understand the challenges rural hospitals face and the value they bring to America’s health. Through dhmstudio+, we are committed to advancing rural health by partnering with providers to meet their strategic marketing needs.

Recently, we had a special opportunity to combine marketing strength with social purpose by producing Corona Country: Solving the PPE Crisis in Rural America, a video that inspires action in meeting the PPE needs of rural hospitals. Through video production services and some in-kind support for strategy and logistics, we proudly contributed our time and talent to this cause. Watch as Ryan Antrim, our video producer, shares his experience throughout this meaningful mission:

Watch and share the full Heart4Heroes video:


To see how you can support this cause, visit Heart4heroes.org. For more information about how we support rural and critical access hospitals, visit dobies.com/dhmstudio.

Special Thanks

We’d like to thank Perfect Image, LLC and the following organizations that joined in the making of this video out of shared support for the Heart4Heroes mission:

Project C.U.R.E.
Angel Flight West
Angel Flight Central
Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary
National Rural Health Association
Colorado Hospital Association
Kearny County Hospital
Lexington Regional Health Center
Lincoln Community Hospital

#Heart4Heroes & Rural Health: The Power of Social Purpose

Rural health is in crisis, especially now in the face of ongoing PPE shortages. When providers struggle to deliver care safely, entire communities are thrown in jeopardy. Rural health providers need everyone’s support, and their stories must be told.

Welcome to Corona Country: Solving the PPE Crisis in Rural America, a powerful video from the Heart4Heroes campaign that supports PPE needs at rural hospitals. As the video’s producers and a proud in-kind supporter of this campaign, we were honored to contribute as part of our commitment to social purpose and strengthening rural health. Please share this story far and wide:

RELATED: View a Special Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Making of Corona Country.

Video Production Partners & Participants

Special thanks to Perfect Image, LLC and the following organizations that also contributed time, talent and treasure to the Heart4Heroes mission:

Project C.U.R.E.
Angel Flight West
Angel Flight Central
Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary
National Rural Health Association
Colorado Hospital Association
Kearny County Hospital
Lexington Regional Health Center
Lincoln Community Hospital

About our Commitment to Rural Health

Since 1992, Dobies Health Marketing has offered highly specialized expertise in strategy-first marketing for health companies, including rural hospitals and healthcare providers. In 2018, we launched dhmstudios+, a division dedicated to advancing rural health by focusing exclusively on the unique marketing and budgetary needs of rural and critical access hospitals.  Where many rural health providers see challenges, we see opportunities, and we have the expertise to drive greater consumer engagement and inspire better health in rural community.

Advancing Rural Health: Seven Steps to Service Line Marketing Strategy

Image of a stone path, representing the seven steps to establishing a service line marketing strategy.Over the last few weeks, we have been discussing market challenges for rural health providers, as well as opportunities for innovation that emerge from creating an ecosystem of health via community partnerships and an emphasis on the value of primary care. With primary care alignment supporting the rural health ecosystem, critical access hospitals and rural providers can concurrently focus on service line growth to meet the needs of rural and underserved areas that lack sufficient healthcare services.

Hospital CEOs likely have many questions about how to best prioritize marketing dollars based on service lines with the greatest profitability, growth prospects, operational readiness, recruitment capacity and more. The organization’s strategic plan may hold some, but not all, of the answers. To fully illuminate answers and achieve targeted service line growth for the organization, we suggest this seven-step, data-driven process to establish a comprehensive service line marketing strategy:

  1. Establish a shared vision among leadership.
    In small and rural hospitals, physician engagement is essential for meaningful integration of the service line with primary care and community partnerships.
  2. Collect and analyze organizational data and research.
    A firm understanding of market data, including your most recent consumer preference and awareness studies and community health needs assessment results, should reveal consumer demand for specialty services.
  3. Review and rethink your relationship with key competitors.
    While it is natural and customary to perceive other providers as competing with you for patients, a more sustainable approach now includes evaluating how others can collaborate with you to extend services into your community. For example, a collaborative partnership for telehealth with regional referral centers can be an effective way to retain patients who require specialized expertise, while also protecting your opportunity to provide post-acute care in the community. Viewing the competition through a lens of collaboration can lead to amazing physician recruitment and expansion opportunities, as revealed by our friends at Kearny County Hospital in Lakin, Kansas.
  4. Define factors of differentiation.
    From the consumer’s perspective, are there service or access factors that differentiate your hospital from another provider? A well-defined, compelling value proposition is a good place to start as you determine how you differentiate in the market.
  5. Identify operational considerations.
    As you define the marketing strategy for your service line, you will need to address operational barriers to success (shortage of providers, limited access, etc.). When we discuss service line marketing plans with hospital leadership, we emphasize how the plan is actually a blueprint to support organization-wide growth. Hospital and physician leadership, together with practice managers and marketing staff, will guide the execution of operational and marketing initiatives that contribute to market share growth. As we always say, marketing is not a department.
  6. Develop and execute the creative strategy.
    With the marketing strategy defined through steps 1-5, you now are in the position to create an integrated creative campaign to reach consumers where they live, work and play. Limited marketing budgets may seem a formidable challenge, so tap into resources you may not have considered before, such as dhmstudio+. And remember, your community partners can be powerful brand ambassadors to extend your reach and build awareness with people across the region.
  7. Measure and track success.
    Not only does your marketing team want to showcase marketing success, they also need to demonstrate how their campaigns contribute to organization-wide goals. While you cannot reasonably track and measure everything, we recommend agreeing to goals during the strategic marketing planning process. Appropriate measures may include patient/new patient volume, market share, share of voice, retention rates, patient satisfaction, web traffic, call volume and “how heard” data. More insight on measuring what matters can be found
Advancing Rural Health: Seven Steps to Service Line Marketing Strategy Click To Tweet

All hospitals, regardless of size, benefit from having a strategic approach to overall and service line marketing. For rural and critical access hospitals, it is especially important to establish a set of priorities that allow them to capture the hearts and minds of the community and keep care local, where outcomes are more successful and targeted growth can be achieved to ensure future sustainability. Strategy moves an organization forward with a unified vision, and it sets the course for a healthy future.

Author’s Note: This article is Part 4 of our series on Advancing Rural Health. I encourage you to dive into the rest of the series as well:

For rural health organizations in need of new strategies and tactics to advance health in the local community, expert assistance is within reach. Find out how dhmstudio+ delivers the expertise you need to build awareness, shape new programs, deepen connections between your brand and the local community, and form community partnerships to sustain the presence of local healthcare.

About the Author

Carol Dobies, CEO and Founder of Dobies Health MarketingCarol Dobies, MBA, is the CEO and Founder of Dobies Health Marketing, where she has been bringing healthcare brands to life for 35+ years. Share your thoughts with her by tweeting @DobiesGroup, connecting with us on LinkedIn, or by commenting on our Facebook page.

Advancing Rural Health: Promoting the Value of Primary Care

A primary care physician counsels a patient.As we continue our series on Advancing Rural Health, we recognize rural Americans experience a unique combination of factors that create disparities in healthcare not found in urban areas. This market environment creates the need for innovative thinking and a strong connection with the community that fosters better health. In our strategy work with rural and critical access hospitals, we are continually reminded how primary care providers should be positioned as the catalysts for better health in rural communities. Studies show the comprehensive services provided by a primary care practice are associated with better overall health.

The shortage of physicians in rural communities is one of the most pressing concerns of the American healthcare system. As president of a strategy-first marketing firm that works with healthcare organizations of all sizes, including rural health providers, I often see clients place an unnecessary emphasis on the need, or perception of need, for routine access to specialty care. By contrast, our strategic advice is to reacquaint the community with the value of primary care and family medicine.

 


Because of their extensive training, family physicians are the only specialists qualified to treat most ailments and provide comprehensive health care for people of all ages – from newborns to seniors.

– The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP)


 

Of course, the obvious question to ask is this: Do consumers value primary care providers as their specialists for life, or are consumers steadfast in their desire for specialty care?

We believe there is value in renewing the public’s choice for primary care. Promoting the benefits of routine primary care allows providers in that space – from family practice to internal medicine – to better fulfill their shared purpose: delivering quality healthcare for individuals and families across their lifetimes.

Advancing Rural Health: Promoting the Value of Primary Care - Click To Tweet

For consumers to properly assess their options for care that keeps them healthy – beyond options for acute care when they are not – it’s important for them to understand that primary care plays a critical role in their local healthcare system. Primary care providers perform several key functions and make several core contributions to the patient as well as the system, and for that, it is a field of medicine that should be recognized as highly relevant to the health of a local community.

That recognition is a foundational aspect of the strategic approaches we take with our rural hospital clients. We understand how primary care providers can serve not only as a patient’s point of entry into the healthcare system, but also as the continual resource for all healthcare needs. We see opportunity in driving consumer choice for primary care as the catalyst for overall health. That’s why, to our rural and critical access hospital clients, we emphasize the importance of communicating how primary care:

  • Addresses a wide range of health issues, offering a place for patients to bring a wide range of health problems
  • Guides patients to the right resources for better health, navigating patients through the health system, including specialty referrals
  • Fosters informed decision-making by patients, encouraging patients to make knowledgeable choices about their health
  • Focuses on prevention and early detection, providing opportunities for screenings, tests, and education for disease prevention and early detection
  • Connects people to the larger continuum of care, linking healthcare services, families and communities together to assist in the health needs of the patient

As communicators, if we can connect people with primary care providers to spur better health, we have served the community well, and we will impact health for generations to come.*

Reader Tip: For more information on the value of primary care, I recommend a research book published by the Institute of Medicine, Primary Care: America’s Health in a New Era. While it is not a recent publication, the content still rings true about the contributions of primary care as foundational to America’s health.

Author’s Note: This article is Part 3 of our series on Advancing Rural Health. I encourage you to dive into the rest of the series as well:

* For rural health organizations in need of new strategies and tactics to advance health in the local community, expert assistance is within reach. Find out how dhmstudio+ delivers the expertise you need to build awareness, shape new programs, deepen connections between your brand and the local community, and form community partnerships to sustain the presence of local healthcare.

About the Author

Julie Amor, Chief Strategy OfficerJulie Amor, MHA, President and Chief Strategy Officer for Dobies Health Marketing, has 30 years of experience elevating healthcare brands. Share your thoughts with her by tweeting @DobiesGroup, connecting with us on LinkedIn, or by commenting on our Facebook page.

Advancing Rural Health: From Healthcare to Lifecare

Rural health systems are fertile grounds for innovation – that’s the consensus reached by healthcare executives at the Health:Further conference last month, and we couldn’t agree more. With declining populations compounded by challenges associated with provider shortages, governmental influences and rapidly advancing technologies, rural health systems should recognize and seize the opportunity to reinvent the way they deliver health to their communities.

As discussed in our blog last week on Advancing Rural Health, market forces are driving transformation in the strategies deployed by rural and critical access hospitals. My colleagues and I envision successful innovation taking shape through “lifecare,” a consumer-centric ecosystem that offers integrated health-related services across the full continuum of consumer needs.

To create this ecosystem, consumers and suppliers (including payers) of health and wellbeing services will connect on a platform. Companies such as Apple, Uber and Airbnb have successfully unlocked the power of platforms, according to Harvard Business Review’s article titled, Pipelines, Platforms and the New Rules of Strategy. “Platform businesses bring together producers and consumers in high-value exchanges,” explain the authors. “Their chief assets are information and interactions, which together are also the source of the value they create and their competitive advantage.”

With a platform strategy, everyone wins because decisions are made that encourage healthy lives. The strategy places the consumer at the center of the ecosystem, and products and services are rendered from expected and non-traditional entities, including healthcare disruptors. While healthcare disruptors may be viewed as threats when they enter the market, many are actually good sources of collaboration for the lifecare platform model. Rural communities can benefit from innovation that identifies and tracks how consumers will expect service and care in the future.

With a platform strategy in #ruralhealth, everybody wins because the end result is a #lifecare ecosystem where better health flourishes. Click To Tweet

For rural hospitals and critical access hospitals, the platform acts as a hub, facilitating interactions through which consumers can actively and continuously engage in their health. The ideal environment allows competitors and community partners (e.g., public health departments, schools, fitness facilities, grocery stores, healthcare disruptors, etc.) to become collaborators, working together on behalf of the consumer. Public and private partnerships provide greater access to community-based life products and services such as healthy foods, fitness programs, health education, telehealth, digital health coaching and services borne from predictive analytics. Preventive health and wellness programs become more accessible and personalized, leading to increased engagement and utilization. The end result: an ecosystem where better health flourishes, benefiting everyone in the rural community.

 

A graphic depicting the lifecare model, with the consumer at the center.

 

Lifecare is a framework for creating a cohesive network that connects each consumer to the products, services, education and additional support needed for optimal individual health. Rural and critical access hospitals can and should take a more active role in facilitating optimal outcomes across a more unified and connected system. And those who embrace this level of innovation now have the greatest opportunity to emerge as local, regional and even national leaders who are authentically consumer-centric, catalyzing a movement toward a more meaningful impact on individual and population health.

Developing a lifecare platform strategy is complex but necessary, and the time to begin your planning is now. With the health industry’s rapid transformation into consumerism, population health, value-based reimbursement, rural and critical access hospitals that are slow to embrace a collaborative, consumer-centric lifecare model will get left behind.

Successfully creating your new business model design requires a firm commitment to strategic business planning, organizational readiness assessments, collaborative partnerships, cultural alignment, consumer engagement and brand authenticity. There is no universal approach – the scope and application can and will vary from one enterprise to the next, but all will have at least one common denominator: a consumer-centric ecosystem where partners share a vision for keeping people healthy throughout their lives.

At Dobies Health Marketing, we don’t just challenge rural health leaders to advance rural health in ways that elevate the overall health of the community – we offer a unique program to support it. We use our strengths in strategic marketing, branding and communications to position rural and critical access hospitals as catalysts for health in their local communities. We help define what an ecosystem might look like, one that places the consumer in the middle and then creates an environment around them where health will flourish. Lifecare is a shift from the traditional pipeline strategic planning to a platform model, and it opens new doors of opportunity to advance rural health.

Author’s Note: Thank you for reading this article, which is Part 2 of our series on Advancing Rural Health. I encourage you to dive into the rest of the series as well, which we are rolling out throughout September:

About the Author

Carol Dobies, CEO and Founder of Dobies Health MarketingCarol Dobies, MBA, is the CEO and Founder of Dobies Health Marketing, where she has been bringing healthcare brands to life for 35+ years. Share your thoughts with her by tweeting @DobiesGroup, connecting with us on LinkedIn, or by commenting on our Facebook page.

Advancing Rural Health: Addressing Market Challenges

As we begin our September blog series on Advancing Rural Health, it’s helpful to think about the challenges faced by healthcare providers and patients in America’s small-town communities. As shown in the chart below, rural Americans experience a unique combination of factors that create disparities in healthcare not found in urban areas. Market forces such as changing demographics, continued provider shortages, governmental influences and rapidly advancing technologies are changing healthcare delivery. Rural hospitals and care providers encounter additional obstacles with regard to disparate socioeconomic factors, geographical location, consumer health and lifestyle behaviors, and aging patient populations with higher-than-average rates of chronic illness.

A chart illustrating how market and rural forces are shifting the healthcare landscape.

In its 2015 Policy Brief on Population Health in Rural Communities, the National Rural Health Association (NRHA) states that, “access to high-quality healthcare is a key component in supporting a healthy community … one of the reasons that rural hospitals, rural clinics and [rural community health centers] are instrumental to the overall wellbeing of rural communities.” However, citing the County Health Rankings Model from the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation program), the NRHA brief also noted that access and quality account for only about 20 percent of the overall determinants of population health. Health behaviors such as tobacco use, diet and exercise, alcohol and drug use, and sexual activity account for 30 percent, while the physical environment affects another 10 percent. The remaining population health determinants (40 percent) are impacted by a complex tapestry of social circumstances, behavior patterns, and environmental and economic factors, including education, employment, income, family and social support, and community safety.

Together, these market factors create disparities that we must address to sustain and build the health/well-being of individuals in our regions and keep our communities healthy.

Today’s rural and critical access hospitals and care providers are at the precipice of a transformational time in healthcare history, and they are embracing transformational thinking about their role in making better health possible in their local communities. Consumerism is driving a more integrated approach to health, one that is not solely focused on providing care to patients when they are sick, but also helping to keep them healthy. At Dobies Health Marketing, we envision a model that allows health to take place in local communities by engaging and inspiring an integration of health and life services. Despite the challenges associated with rural health, a more connected system of care is within reach.

In other words, we see opportunity for rural and critical access hospitals to pivot in order to sustain their presence as community-based healthcare providers, keeping healthcare local. As leaders of a strategy-first healthcare marketing firm, my colleagues and I have been sharing insight with our rural and critical access hospital clients about how increased consumer knowledge and other market forces are driving substantial change in healthcare delivery. Such change requires greater communication and collaboration among all parties tasked with providing care and access to care (which isn’t always medical). At the core of this evolution is the need to keep people healthy throughout their lives, not simply treat them when they are sick.

Advancing Rural Health: Addressing Market Challenges - Click To Tweet

Hospital leaders who understand these market conditions will:

  • Seek resources to help you transform their organizations
  • Pivot to accommodate the market forces at play
  • Prepare today for the changes already underway, as well as those still to come
  • Change your local market position to make better health possible
  • Reinvent your brand to connect with consumers, long before they become patients
  • Transform from a model of hospital care to an integrated community-wide system of health and life services
  • Build collaborative relationships with community partners to weave together an integrated health and life system that inspires better health

If you are a rural or critical access hospital leader with an interest in connecting with your local community to inspire better health, take a moment to discover how dhmstudio+, a strategy-first healthcare marketing service scaled for rural hospitals, aligns with your goals.

Reader Tip: I encourage you to learn from the case study examples set by our clients at Bryan Health, who have embraced and led collaborative models in the communities of their rural and critical access hospitals.

Author’s Note: Thank you for reading this article, which is Part 1 of our series on Advancing Rural Health. I encourage you to dive into the rest of the series as well, which we are rolling out throughout September:

About the Author

Julie Amor, Chief Strategy OfficerJulie Amor, MHA, President and Chief Strategy Officer for Dobies Health Marketing, has 30 years of experience elevating healthcare brands. Share your thoughts with her by tweeting @DobiesGroup, connecting with us on LinkedIn, or by commenting on our Facebook page.

Dobies Health Marketing Launches Division Focused on Advancing Rural Health

A sunkissed image of a family in a rural landscape.KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Dobies Health Marketing, a strategy-first healthcare marketing firm, has launched dhmstudio+, a new division focused exclusively on the unique marketing needs of rural and critical access hospitals.

To keep pace in an evolving healthcare industry, rural hospitals and clinics must focus on improving patient experiences, delivering better outcomes and optimizing revenue opportunities. Future sustainability also requires greater emphasis on keeping people healthy, as opposed to the traditional focus on treating illness and injury. However, most rural hospitals and clinics face significant roadblocks along this path, including restricted budgets, limited internal resources and even provider shortages that limit the access they provide.

That’s where dhmstudio+ comes in, say the leaders of Dobies Health Marketing, who developed the new service line to scale the firm’s advanced healthcare marketing strategy and branding expertise to meet the unique needs and address the unique challenges of rural providers.

“Our healthcare marketing experts understand the shifting healthcare landscape, and within it, we see new opportunities to create healthier communities,” explains Julie Amor, president and chief strategy officer for Dobies Health Marketing. She says rural hospital leaders can create long-term sustainability by engaging people with innovative programs and partnerships that keep quality healthcare local. dhmstudio+ is designed to inform and support such efforts.

Services, which range from strategic guidance to creative advertising with many offerings in between, are provided at a flat-rate fee to accommodate each client’s fixed monthly budgeting needs. “With dhmstudio+, rural hospitals have affordable access to our healthcare marketing team,” says Amor. “It’s like having their own fully staffed marketing department, but at a much lower cost.”

Carol Dobies, founder and chief executive officer, says dhmstudio+ aligns with the firm’s mission of combining strategic marketing and creative communication to create healthier brands – and to make a difference in how people think about health. “We are passionate about the essential role rural providers play in creating healthier communities,” says Dobies. “The same strategy-first healthcare marketing expertise we provide to large health system clients is now available to rural providers with limited resources, and we are committed to supporting their needs.”

To take a more in-depth exploration, read this client success story. For more information about dhmstudio+ or the complete scope of healthcare marketing, branding, advertising and PR services provided by Dobies Health Marketing, call 816.595.6723.

About Dobies Health Marketing

Since 1992, Dobies Health Marketing has offered highly specialized expertise in healthcare marketing strategy, branding and creative campaigns. The Kansas City-based company serves the marketing needs of the entire healthcare industry, from hospitals, health systems and payers to medical device manufacturers, associations, certifying boards and others.