Kansas City’s Top Companies: Truman Medical Center

An impressive redesign of the facility and high birth numbers have remade the image of our hometown hospital.

With an eye toward revamping its image and then ultimately increasing output, the public relations and marketing team at Truman Medical Center (TMC) has exceeded expectations in attracting new Kansas City area moms to the hospital’s pre-natal and postpartum unit.

Aiming to perform an average of 100 births per month, the TMC Lakewood Family Birthplace, which opened in the spring of 2011, is already near 200 monthly births. The $4 million facility includes 19 state-of-the-art labor, delivery, recovery and postpartum rooms.

The impressive digs and the high birth numbers have TMC president and CEO John Bluford singing the praises of his organization: “TMC should be considered, without a doubt, one of the top companies in Kansas City.”

L to R: Niki Donawa, President and CEO John Bluford, Dr. Mark Steele, and Clinton Fields of Truman Medical Center.

Despite marketing pros likely salivating at the notion of promoting a new high-end facility, the TMC birthing center came with its share of challenges. Primary among these was a prevailing notion among Kansas City area residents that TMC Lakewood was a facility almost solely for low-income and Medicaid families. Although the notion was misplaced, the slow economy meant competing hospitals were targeting Medicaid families, something they had shied away from previously. All of this amounted to steadily declining birthrates at the facility.

The task at hand required starting with understanding the big picture, both locally and nationally. Rolling up their sleeves, the marketing staff conducted qualitative research to help define the birthing center’s core strategies. This included a review of 2009 and 2010 messaging trends and birth numbers at competing hospitals as well as a review of documentation on national birthing trends. Other elements included focus groups comprised of the target audience – women of childbearing age – as well as groups made up of influencers and TMC Lakewood doctors.

Once the information was in, the marketing staff turned its attention to the development of a communication plan. Retention marketing included welcome packets for all new pre-natal patients with information describing the extensive TMC Lakewood services and details about the newly designed unit. In another facet of the campaign, area doctors were targeted to increase referrals to the hospital via a TMC Lakewood physician liaison.

Other efforts, like billboard and print advertising, also included promoting key obstetric providers at the hospital through advertorials. Online tactics involved focusing on Google Search and Facebook as well as through local publication sites and the implementation of a microsite for the Family Birthplace and all pre-natal services.