Dueling ERs: Cross-town Rivals Use Videos and T-shirts to Compete for Patients at Hospitals’ New Front Door

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

dueling erTwo Central Illinois hospitals are pulling out the stops in a hospital marketing and advertising tug-of-war.

Springfield’s St. John’s Hospital and cross-town rival Memorial Medical Center see the emergency department as the new front door of their hospitals. Perhaps that’s not entirely new, but emergency care is a primary access point for patients needing immediate care, and clearly an important source for new admissions, subsequent treatment and surgeries.

With nearly constant changes in healthcare delivery systems, increased competition and declining reimbursements, perhaps you can relate to these “dueling ERs” that promote a fast, friendly and efficient place for patients and families.

Memorial Medical Center claims to be the #1 ER in the Springfield area, and points to secondary clinics locations, some with the convenience of extended hours. Across town, St. John’s Hospital takes the position of being “the best,” with renovations underway in the ER to provide more privacy for pediatric patients and their parents.

Extra Points for Video: Above and beyond traditional strategies and tactics, Memorial has launched an initiative titled Memorial ER Stories that includes the clever use of online video, t-shirts and patient testimonials. This hospital marketing initiative solicits both video and written experiences and provides a free t-shirt in reward. What’s more, they use a short online video—complete with a friendly fireside setting—to introduce the idea and to provide easy to follow, how-to instructions.

In random order, some of the other strategies and tactics at work by both facilities include:

  • Emphasis on warm, welcoming and rapid service;
  • Ongoing marketing and advertising campaigns, including billboards and bus signs;
  • Stressing prompt ER care that is lower than the national average of 8 hours; and
  • Constantly reporting current wait times prominently online and available via text message.

The need to attract more patients isn’t unique to Springfield, “…in highly competitive healthcare markets across the United States at a time when the population is aging, sicker people are living longer and more emergencies are happening outside doctors’ regular office hours,” the (IL) State Journal-Register reports in this overview worth reading.

Kudos to Memorial for their creative use of online video to solicit video. Video content is a powerful, and often under utilized healthcare marketing tool. You can watch our series of videos-about-video healthcare marketing for more how-to instruction here.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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