Illustration of two people looking through data for their annual report

It’s almost spring 2023 — a time for new beginnings and fresh starts. But chances are, you are in the throes of wrapping up your 2022 hospital annual report or thinking about your 2023 edition.

Often formulaic, a hospital annual report can be a tough assignment for creative types. And this once-per-year publication may feel all-consuming for a marketing or communications team. But its yearly return doesn’t have to be met with dread. With proper planning and outside-the-box thinking, your hospital annual report could become a favorite on your list of to-dos.

Read on for planning tips and find out how to write an annual report that keeps you satisfied on the job and meets your organization’s needs.

3 steps to set yourself up for hospital annual report success

There are several steps you should take before you even begin brainstorming annual report ideas and content planning.

1. Define the goals of your hospital annual report

Whether you’re creating a new annual report or doing one again for the 10th year in a row, you’ll want to take a step back and think about goals. Ask yourself:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What do they need to know?
  • What do we want them to do?

You will also want to know if your annual report has any requirements. For example, a report may require specific information or data points as part of an application process or progress updates to professional organizations or granting agencies.

2. Determine your budget and develop a production schedule

With goals in hand, it’s time to begin the hospital annual report planning process. Find out how much you have to spend to account for all necessary resources. These may include content planning, writing, photography, design, printing and mailing.

Next, determine your deadline for a completed report and work backward to develop a production schedule. Don’t forget to build the review process into your timeline. And if your annual report requires review by your legal team, factor that in.

3. Prepare for distribution

Before you even put words to a page, you will want to consider how you’ll distribute your hospital annual report once it’s complete. After all, it’s not valuable to your organization until it reaches its intended audience. Whether printed or digital, an annual report needs a well-thought-out distribution plan.

If your organization plans to print hard copies of your annual report, consider:

  • Mailing to key stakeholders’ homes or places of business. (Be sure to factor mailing costs into your budget).
  • Placing in high-trafficked locations throughout your organization.
  • Distributing at conferences or meetings.
  • Posting a PDF of your hard-copy report to your website. (You may also consider turning your PDF into a digital flipbook for a better reader experience.)

A digital hospital annual report may be more cost-effective for larger distribution lists. You can share digital reports electronically via your website or intranet, targeted emails and social posts.

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Get creative with your hospital annual report content

Defining goals, developing a production plan and preparing for distribution can help you stay on time and on task. But you also want people on your distribution list to read your report once it hits their inboxes or mailboxes.

Think beyond traditional annual report data to create a compelling publication that holds readers’ attention.

Annual report ideas

  • Select a central theme. Think about your organization’s year and any themes that could tie it together. Then, connect each content piece to that central theme to create a cohesive annual report.
  • Let patients tell your story. Patients are the heart of any hospital or healthcare system. Consider weaving their stories throughout your annual report to ground readers in your organization’s mission.
  • Use images and photos. You don’t need long-form content pieces to keep readers engaged. Shorter pieces of content are often a better approach. Consider creating a photo-heavy report with more concise captions.
  • Incorporate infographics. Data and numbers are essential components of annual reports. Display them in an interesting way using infographics or other visuals.
  • Mix things up with design. Just because you’ve always created a 24-page printed report doesn’t mean you have to do that again. Consider different page counts and paper sizes and even other formats. Would a digital flipbook serve you better? Maybe you could use video to deliver your message. Could you reach more people and create a more engaging experience with an online-only report? See how Cincinnati Children’s created an engaging online experience with their 2020 Research Annual Report.

How to write an annual report

You don’t need to start from scratch to write your hospital annual report. Much of your report’s content likely exists in other forms on your organization’s website, blog or social media feeds. Do an audit of existing content to determine what to repurpose and what new content needs you may have.

| Tackle content development in 5 stages.

Start thinking about next year

Once your annual report is completed and out the door, it’s tempting to forget about this assignment until next year. But you’ll be much better off in 12 months if you give some early thought to your next annual report.

Consider your annual report in your content planning, especially when developing your editorial calendar. Think about what photos you may need and what pieces of content you could build out now to re-use later.

A great report example is Baptist Health South Florida’s Miami Cancer Institute 2020 accomplishments report. Miami Cancer Institute’s report was recognized as a Gold award winner by judges in three international competitions — the Healthcare Advertising Awards, the MarCom Awards and the Hermes Creative Awards.

Do you have a great hospital annual report example to share? Reach out to us on LinkedIn or Twitter with your examples.

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