It’s finally happening. In October, we’ll add internal medicine and dental services to the center and move to new and larger quarters. We’ll be able to fulfill our long-awaited goal of becoming a fully comprehensive primary care health center.
Charles Jacobs, Executive Director of the South Kingston Health Center (SKHC), was exuberant. After many years of operation as a non-comprehensive community health center, offering only pediatric, gynecological, and family planning services, SKHC would now become fully comprehensive. He realized, however, that the change would have important implications for the center’s marketing efforts, and he had resolved to prepare a detailed marketing plan to guide the transition.
SKHC had a total registrant population of 3,000 people. Of these, only 2,000 were active registrants. The remaining individuals were adult males who were family members of active registrants. The 2,000 active registrants had utilized approximately 6,000 visits in the previous year. Mr. Jacobs felt that to fully utilize the revamped and expanded center, he would need to increase his registrant population to 10,000 (6,000 to 7,000 active) within the next 18 months, and these registrants would have to utilize between 18,000 and 20,000 visits annually.
Mr. Jacobs, who had directed SKHC for the past year, believed that the center had not paid sufficient attention in the past to its marketing efforts. He felt that a good marketing strategy should address, among other things, (a) maximum utilization of capacity as a means toward fiscal self-support, (b) identification of the services that it could uniquely provide, and (c) identification of underserved groups and ways to attract them to the center.
History of Community Health Centers
Community health centers originated in the mid-1960s in the Johnson-administration-inspired expansion of the provision of social services to low-income citizens. The first centers were essentially experiments in the War on Poverty which sought to address a wide range of social service needs of the poor that included nutritional, mental health, family planning, and drug counseling; the need for community self-participation and determination; as well as the provision of direct primary health care such as pediatrics, internal medicine, obstetrical, gynecological, and dental services.
Initially the centers provided only free care, being prohibited by governmental grant terms from charging anyone for services. This fact, coupled with the location of many centers in inner-city enclaves, had led to a very distinct “charity” or “welfare” image for any facility that bore the community health center label. However, the utility of the concept of a comprehensive community-oriented, community-governed, family-centered, preventive health care, ambulatory facility led to . . .
- What is Mr. Jacobs strategy for SKHC?
- Whom does Mr. Jacobs want the health center to serve? Please be as specific as you can: what groups is he focusing on, and what services/programs are required to serve each group?
- What is your assessment of the viability of this approach? Please be specific, analyzing the revenues and costs wherever you can. What should Mr. Jacobs do?
- What criteria would you suggest Mr. Jacobs use in the future for determining a strategy and setting objectives for the health center?