Hospital plans $1 million marketing campaign to revamp image

Despite rising healthcare costs, Stroger Hospital in Chicago plans to spend up to $1 million on TV ads next year, reports the Chicago Tribune. The hospital system hopes the ads will improve its reputation and attract patients.

As a safety-net hospital system, potential patients often view Stroger as having dirty conditions, apathetic providers and inadequate care. Most Chicago residents seek care at the system as a last resort, notes the article.

To change the perception, it is spending $4,000 on cable TV ads in English and Spanish, with that ad spending jumping to at least $1 million the year after.

Hospital officials also hope the TV marketing campaign will help Stroger in competing for the big influx of new Medicaid patients expected under healthcare reform in 2014. "We want them to know we want their business," Lucio Guerrero, a spokesman for the independent Health and Hospitals System, told the Tribune.

With lowered reimbursements and healthcare utilization in an already competitive hospital marketplace, many facilities are ramping up their marketing efforts to fill those other empty beds. For example, New York healthcare institutions spent $80 million in advertising this year, up from $69.3 million last year, according to a recent Crain's article.

Yet not everyone is convinced that spending big bucks on marketing will be enough to get patients in the door. Hospitals still need to consider accessibility--a big issue for Stroger as its main patient base, from the South and Far South sides of the city, must take three buses just to get to the hospital, notes the Tribune.

"No one who has an alternative will go to county hospital in my opinion," James Unland, president of the Chicago-based healthcare consulting firm Health Capital Group, told the newspaper. "People want health care close to where they live."

For more:
- read the Chicago Tribune article