The Little Hospital That Could


Remember the story of The Little Engine That Could? As a little engine struggles to pull a long train of toys over a mountain, she repeats the mantra, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” And when she successfully reaches the top and starts back down the other side, she says happily to herself, “I thought I could! I thought I could!” The story, of course, is about overcoming obstacles—even when you’re not the biggest or strongest around.

As the healthcare industry begins to re-imagine itself around the patient experience, many smaller hospitals are facing “Little Engine” challenges. Without the deep pockets or bench strength of the larger hospitals, how can smaller facilities plan for this shift toward consumerism? And depending on location, do they really even need to?

Location is always an important consideration, but technology’s reach has changed the game considerably. Today, consumers have more choices about how—and where—they seek treatment. In addition, as their portion of spending continues to increase, consumers are becoming more discerning buyers of healthcare services. Couple that with the pressure of niche competitors entering the local markets (e.g. urgent care facilities, Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS), and it becomes clear that if a hospital isn’t pursuing consumers in its area—no matter their location—someone else will.

Meadows Regional Hospital in Vidalia, Georgia, is a great example of a small delivery network that decided it could (and should) seek to improve its patient experience. The hospital’s leadership team, led by CEO Alan Kent, knew that as a small hospital with limited resources, they needed to find a cost-effective and easy-to-use solution.

Enter Jellyfish Health, with its patient experience, SAAS-based platform.

Similar to the Little Engine, Meadows Regional’s leadership team had confidence that it could overcome its size and location challenges to improve the patient experience. And with the Jellyfish Health platform, it did.

With the new platform in place, the hospital’s customers have a seamless, connected experience—even as they engage with various departments, on various channels. For Meadows, creating that same experience is central to keeping its brand one step ahead of the competition.

Since the go-live, Meadows has experienced a 25% drop in no-shows, and nearly 70,000 appointments have been created (about 4,000 per week). The biggest surprise? The hospital’s 65 and older population has been the largest user of the technology, at 27% of the total. What’s more, 4,500 appointments have been confirmed through text messages, so it’s clear that even the elderly love this new way of communicating with their care teams at Meadows.

Like the Little Engine story, size is not the determining factor of success or failure. Success is determined by the willingness to try and the courage to never give up. Small hospitals are just as capable of creating those amazing experiences as large hospitals. Maybe even more so!