Hospital marketers: cure “I need a brochure” syndrome

August 2, 2012
Stephanie Burton Director, Healthcare Marketing

It’s a common scenario that plays out in health care marketing departments across the country. The belief that a monumental problem can be solved by introducing a single tactical element — a brochure, a billboard, a radio campaign — you name it. This sounds a lot like the patient who asks for a prescription without being seen by the doctor.

Here are some steps to consider before taking this all-too-familiar order.

Before you begin rocking back and forth in the fetal position (again), do what doctors do — ask questions to help you reach a diagnosis and review the research.

  • Is growing the hangnail clinic part of the hospital’s strategic plan?
  • What is the hangnail clinic’s time-to-next appointment? If it’s a staggering six months out, your hospital should consider hiring additional staff to support patient volumes. If it’s less than two weeks, you may be able to make a case for additional promotion.
  • Are patients satisfied? A brochure can’t fix a bad patient experience. In fact, it might even make it worse. Review the hangnail clinic’s patient satisfaction scores to make sure they’re aligned with your hospital’s patient experience goals.


After determining what you’re trying to achieve and how you want to achieve it, you can recommend a treatment.

Growing the hangnail clinic appears to be part of the hospital’s strategic plan. The time-to-next appointment is less than two weeks. Patient satisfaction scores are blowing the roof off the hospital. Now what?

Determine measurable objectives and consider developing a marketing/communications plan for the hangnail clinic. This may include a brochure. It may not. It’s up to you as the marketing professional to recommend the most effective strategies and tactics.

So, what if things aren’t looking so good for the hangnail clinic? Would a doctor prescribe an anti-depressant to someone who isn’t depressed? Work with your internal client to help understand how your marketing department makes decisions and promise to schedule a follow-up appointment in six months.


Stephanie, APR, is Core Creative’s health care account supervisor. She provides thought leadership and strategic planning to clients such as The Valley Hospital and Beloit Health System. Prior to joining Core, Stephanie spent six years with Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, leading many PR and marketing communications efforts, including spearheading a campaign to build awareness for its new $168-million tower. Stephanie is an adjunct professor at her alma mater, Marquette University. Follow her on Twitter at @SHungerford.



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