Hospital public relations and marketing : partners in communication
Rodríguez, María del Carmen
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In recent years hospitals have undergone a change with respect to their status within their communities, in their methods of delivering medical care, and in their roles as cost-conscious agents. Until recently, hospitals experienced phenomenal growth in services and programs only to face public outcry over exorbitant medical costs, the realities of financial survival, and keen competition among hospitals. Hospitals have relied on public relations to publicize their medical services and programs. Now more so than ever, hospitals are using marketing techniques and, in many cases, have established marketing programs to determine the public's health needs and to ensure success of hospital programs. This reliance on marketing could encroach on the traditional functions of public relations. The coming of age of hospital marketing has had an impact on hospital public relations and its traditional communication functions. A gray area has evolved as a result of the relationship between these entities, creating confusion as to what constitutes public relations and marketing functions in a healthcare setting. This study examined the gray areas and the relationship between public relations and marketing. it analyzed the results of a survey of the members of the Chicago Hospital Public Relations Society. It also investigated the changes that have occurred in hospitals, the differences between marketing and public relations, and the role of marketing in hospitals. The study examined the processes that make up marketing and public relations and discussed the specific tools each entity uses. It determined that marketing and public relations can exist as partners, complementing each other's effort in achieving the hospital's objectives. The survey provided answers to how marketing is used by hospitals and what tools it shares with public relations.