Increasing Profitable Patient Volume Without Jeopardizing Your Tax Exempt Status

The Illinois Supreme Court has denied Provena Covenant Medical Center’s appeal to regain its property tax exemption. “The record shows that during the period in question here, Provena did not advertise the availability of charity care,” Justice Lloyd Karmeier wrote for the majority.

Wow. Your advertising can jeopardize your tax status.

Regular readers know that I always say that your job is to increase patient volume of high-incidence high-contribution clinical intake. THAT is what pays for the charity care. (read an earlier post about St. Vincent in Manhattan closing.)

The courts are looking at your marketing and advertising. What are they learning about you? Here is what they should be learning while you are also driving high-contribution clinical intake:

  • You exist to better the health of your community – this means Prevention, Early Detection, and Wellness information
  • You do charity care and advertise it. You can do well by doing good! Cancer DRG’s, for example, Medicaid is a great payer. And your messages to those patients in need will be so targeted that your suburban-employed-with-a-great-payer patients will not even know you are doing it.
  • You routinely have risk assessments for ALL in the community and have medical practitioners available (usually NP’s) to do exams and make appointments – even if you hold them in locations that are advantageous to those with a great payer

All these things serve your mission and make the health system money – both are important. When hospitals send messages to the community just like any other corporate marketer, the community will treat hospitals like any other corporate marketer.

But when you are true to your mission, your marketing should also reflect that. You must always remember, you are using marketing as a way to create financial sustainability AND as a way to benefit the community.

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