Healthy Dose of Hospital Ads Employee Recruitment Is One of Many Reasons for Advertising Push

By Comerford, Mike | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 17, 2006 | Go to article overview

Healthy Dose of Hospital Ads Employee Recruitment Is One of Many Reasons for Advertising Push


Comerford, Mike, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Mike Comerford Daily Herald Business Writer

Naperville-based Edward Hospital's slogan is "For people who don't like hospitals."

"Experience matters" at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights.

Libertyville-based Condell Medical Center is "Dedicated to excellence."

Chicago area hospitals spend millions of dollars on advertising every year. Hospitals in the city of Chicago have been known to have marketing budgets in the $2 million to $3 million range.

With about 100 hospitals in the Chicago market area, the strategies vary widely in scope and theme.

The top spending is being done by Chicago hospitals, including University of Chicago Hospitals, Evanston Northwestern Healthcare and Rush University Medical Center.

Nationally, most hospital advertising focuses on what hospital administrators believe is their toughest challenge - recruitment.

"Employment advertising is something they have to do 365 days a year," said Richard Wade, spokesman for the American Hospital Association, New York City. "Hospitals will face a work force shortage as far as the eye can see."

Advertising themes vary with the hospital and hospital market. Some hospitals feature their newest technology or service. Others tout their industry ratings for procedures or performance.

Still others grasp for a wider branding concept to create an impression for viewers, such as Edward's branding itself the hospital "For people who don't like hospitals."

Critics call such advertising and competition for market share "unseemly," and point out that $3 million ad campaign budgets can be better spent.

"That is $3 million coming out of people's health insurance bills," said Art Levin, director of the Center for Medical Consumer, a New York City-based nonprofit medical consumer group. "The question is, is this money that should come out of the health- care dollar?"

Nevertheless, hospital advertising typically is less than 1 percent of hospital revenues, according to industry estimates.

Some local hospitals such as the area's largest hospital chain, Oak Brook-based Advocate Health Care, have no overall advertising campaign.

Advocate's hospital advertising stresses community benefits, which it values at $286 million a year. Such benefits could include everything from unreimbursed Medicaid and Medicare services to emergency nurse outreach training seminars.

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