Continued improvement in healthcare conditions in the rural areas has always been a difficult task. Most rural areas have a shortage of primary healthcare providers. There is a scarcity of hospitals as well as an increase in the percentage of reimbursements for the aging segment. Healthcare services in the rural areas need a major revamp. Rural hospitals do not possess the amenities that are otherwise offered by the large hospitals present in the metros.
The most overlooked yet extremely important aspect of success in rural healthcare is rural healthcare marketing. Many rural hospitals are of the opinion that they are the only presence in a given region and hence there is no need to promote their services. This is a notion which is much further from the truth.
People are looking for better healthcare. Development of infrastructure and the growing influence of internet have helped create awareness amongst the rural population. Reforms in the healthcare domain have resulted in creating a competitive environment. This increasing competition has seen market players trying to gain a footprint even in the rural areas.
A lot of government schemes put special emphasis on the availability of medical staff in far flung and inaccessible areas. Doctors, paramedics, physicians and healthcare professionals are given monetary benefits to increase the healthcare reach in rural areas. However, the awareness present in rural areas regarding healthcare services is still less when compared to the urban areas.
The priority of a good healthcare marketing communications program would involve leveraging the rural hospital’s staff, diagnostic equipment, and building of renovation projects and expansion of services to discourage the local population from moving too far from their homes to acquire services. A major reason for many patients moving away from rural hospitals to urban hospitals is because they aren’t aware of the complete set of services being offered by the local hospital.
Even if a rural hospital wishes to remain independent or place itself in the best possible means for acquisition, a hospital needs to have a ready influx of volume. This suggests that marketing is integral to the success of a healthcare program. However, healthcare marketing doesn’t just relate to ‘advertising’. Healthcare marketing has far wide reaching effects. It involves the accurate assessment of the best business development practices, building an effective planning and marketing strategy, developing a systematic marketing and communications plan and promotion through various means such as press release (PR), conferences, events, etc.