Posted: November 9, 2017

Service line leaders wear many hats. On any given day, you manage a host of responsibilities, ranging from analyzing clinical data to managing budgets.

You may come from a healthcare background, working within the service line you now manage. Or, perhaps you bring business and marketing experience from your work outside of healthcare.

Whatever your experience, there are a few essential skills you’ll need to develop if you want to successfully drive service line growth for your organization.

Skill #1 – Leadership: creating a vision and strategic direction for your service line
In Becker’s Hospital Review, Peggy Crabtree, RN, MBA, a former service line director at Huntington Memorial Hospital, shares how strategic thinking has become an increasingly important skill for service line managers.

"Service line leaders used to be the daily operational problem fixers,” said Crabtree. “Now, they have to have the skill set to analyze data and then strategically use that data to drive change and standardize care."

Creating a vision: Service line managers must have strong leadership skills if they are going to successfully shift their team from the traditional, departmental mindset to a shared vision of seamless, consumer-focused care.

Developing the strategic direction: As service line manager, the ability to analyze data is important when you are asked to make strategic decisions that affect your service line and perhaps the entire organization.

Skill #2 – Collaboration: building relationships within the hospital and the community to reduce costs and improve the consumer experience
Internal relationship building: Within the healthcare organization, service line managers must build relationships with colleagues to help achieve their service line goals. In order to build these relationships, you must have strong engagement and collaboration skills. For example, you must collaborate with other department heads in order to build your service line budget.

Community collaboration: According to Compass Clinical, today’s service line leaders must be able to move from hospital-centric thinking to that of collaborative community-based care.

A close partnership between physicians and the hospital is needed to meet the quality and cost demands of today's healthcare market. “One thing that's changing is that physicians are becoming partners, rather than customers. So, the ability to communicate and negotiate with them is critical," said Crabtree.

However, the commitment to collaboration shouldn’t end with physician partnerships. Service line managers must work on building relationships with other community healthcare agencies and services as well.

Skill #3 - Analyzing Data: using data to make sound business decisions for your service line and healthcare organization
Compass Clinical also reported that service line leaders should be able to analyze quality, financial, and operational data to identify weaknesses and create strategies for improvement.

Focusing on metrics is essential for service lines to meet goals of standard, quality care at a low cost. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, having a clinical background may help you understand these metrics and determine solutions.

As service line manager, you will need to process a significant amount of data, translate it into useful information and develop action plans to respond to that information.

Skill #4 - Digital marketing: understanding how consumers make their healthcare decisions and reaching out to them using sound digital marketing practices
According to the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD), more and more consumers are turning to search for answers to their health questions and concerns. Online search often serves as the main entrance point to your website and the first time a consumer will encounter your brand. In 2017, digital marketing skills are essential for service line managers who want to empower their customers and provide a seamless online experience.

In this recent post, we discussed how the channel-specific restrictions and regulations in healthcare marketing, knowing how to navigate search and social advertising for something like Women’s Services versus something like Bariatrics, can be tricky. For that reason, keeping up on the latest best practices and helpful tools in digital marketing is essential.

And, with 77% of patients making use of search engine results before booking an appointment at a hospital or a local practice, service line managers need digital marketing skills to make their website or local listing on Google as noticeable as possible.

Building your skills
If you’d like to develop the skills you need to drive service line growth, SHSMD offers a variety of educational resources. This SHSMD U webcast, for example, covers emerging trends and specific search tactics that can help enhance your digital marketing skills. You might also check out this Greystone white paper to learn more about creating a more personalized online experience for healthcare consumers.

The empowered service line manager needs a variety of skills to help them better serve healthcare consumers and drive service line growth. This includes having the analytical skills to better understand their customer’s wants and needs, as well as the business and leadership skills to drive change within their service line.

To learn more about how to drive service line growth, specifically through a social strategy, read our guide, Harness the Power of Facebook: A Modern Marketer's Playbook for Facebook Service Line Marketing.