Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Why do hospitals use the word world-class, unique etc., in ads when it's debatable?

Hospital and other healthcare leadership seems to be struggling with the concept of an empowered, informed healthcare consumer who is making active decisions regarding treatment and care, instead of relying on the provider of care making the decisions.

This is leading to any number of hospitals and others advertising satisfaction rates, awards for care, no wait ERs and other self proclaimed measures or for example, using web site clocks to potential customers that provide real-time ER wait times, etc.

Some innovative hospitals have even been cleaver in their ER advertising and other communication channels allowing potential customers to text a message and get the wait time back. Some ads make claims of being the number one in treatment because of the volume of cases.

Most ads are agency quality and well done, while some are clearly created in-house and look it too.

Misrepresentation of the data

But what I am also seeing is misuse and misrepresentation of data related to quality awards from third parties. It's one thing to advertise that you have earned awards for clinical quality in several areas, who the awarding organization is and the importance of the meaning of that award to your audience.

It's an entirely different matter when you take that award and tell people that if all the hospitals in the nation were as good as you, in those categories, which are not all of the categories of care awarded, that 158,000 lives would be saved annually is flat out wrong and misrepresenting any relative value of what that awards means.

What you should be communicating.

Which is the experience and how that awards makes you a quality provider of care in that category not all categories. Your messaging and visuals should be reinforcing quality, educating about what that award means , strengthening your brand and brand promise, as well as differentiating you from your competitors. You should be the data and outcomes transparent provider in your community. Create trust and goodwill with your messaging. Listen to your consumers and give them the meaningful data that they want in order to participate in the decision making process.

What you should not be communicating.

Do not use "unique", "world-class", "one-of-a-kind" , or "state-of-the-art" in your copy. What you do is not "unique", others provide the same. Unless someone is coming from another corner of the world to get care, you are not "world-class". And "state-of-the-art" is fleeting because a new service, procedure or technology is already on the horizon. Do not write or say "our medical team" or "staff" and use physicians in that sentence. Nor should you say "our physicians". That will get you drawn into physician malpractice lawsuits under the apparent agency doctrine.

Telling people "you care", when that is already an existing expectation of your consumers is stating the obvious. If anything, those types of messages only raise a red flag to consumers and are seen a pejorative.

Are you listening?

In most cases your advertisements and other channel communications are the primary contact that a consumer has with you that starts the customer experience process or even considering changing providers. Talk to your audiences in meaningful ways. Educate. Teach. Inform. Change opinion. Tell them why the quality award is important and what it means to them. Frame their expectation and experience. Manage it.

Frame it in terms of the customer experience and you will find a heightened sense of consumer and brand awareness. Data transparency in outcomes and honesty will drive volume and revenue for that category of service.

It won't if you incorrectly position the achievement by making wild claims of superiority that no one believes.

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For more information, or to discuss your strategic healthcare marketing, customer experience management, marketing/sales integration or start-up needs, you can learn more at my web site the michael J group; email-; or phone by calling me at 815-293-1471.

1 comment:

Paul Levy said...

Well done blog. I've linked to mine.