On the verge of closing its doors five years ago, the University of Illinois Hospitals and Clinics blows into the heart of Chicago's competitive healthcare market this week with a $4.4 million advertising blitz.
Through television, radio and eventually print media, executives said they'll stress the academic medical center's comeback and expertise. The ad campaign will last two years, with the first round of commercials expected to reach more than 3.5 million consumers in the first 10 months.
"These ads will be very educational and focus on prevention," said Sidney Mitchell, director of University of Illinois Hospitals and Clinics at Chicago.
"This should put the whole campus at a higher profile."
In an interview with MODERN HEALTHCARE, Mr. Mitchell and R. K. Dieter Haussmann, UIC's vice chancellor for health services, said the hospital's improved financial standing and solid primary-care program at the UIC College of Medicine will make the academic medical center an even more formidable force in the Chicago market.
The campaign's main theme, "UIC Medical Center: the source of health and healing for the people of Illinois," is designed to set the center apart from other Chicago academic medical centers.
UIC has been known outside Chicago through its standing among academic medical centers, but consumer aware-ness in the Chicago area has been weak, UIC executives acknowledge. The ads will tout a ranking last year by U.S. News & World Report, which placed the academic medical center among the top 3% of America's 1,488 academic teaching hospitals.
"You ask people on the street about us and they say, `Why should I go to Champaign for healthcare," Mr. Haussmann said.
Champaign, some two hours south of Chicago, is home of the University of Illinois, but UIC's hospital campus is located on Chicago's West Side.
The ad campaign is the latest in a series of recent steps to set the academic medical center apart from its competitors in Chicago.
Executives said they have had an operations improvement program that has reduced costs by more than $17 million in the past two years. The hospital also announced two months ago it would begin performing heart, lung and heart-lung transplants again, the first in about five years (July 11, p. 22).
"At the end of the 1989-90 fiscal year, (the hospital) very seriously considered closing," Mr. Haussmann said. "Not only didn't we do transplants, we didn't do any cardiac surgery."
As Chicago's hospitals and other healthcare providers continue to develop their networks, UIC's medical school offers perhaps the strongest component of any in the country. The school graduates 300 students a year-more than any other medical school in the country.