Living in a large metropolitan area with some pretty well-recognized system heavyweights and Academic Medical Centers, I am fortunate enough to see a good deal of hospital and health system advertising.
Seen across many provider promotions are doctors with their arms crossed staring upwardly in deep thought, building exterior shots and high-tech equipment all promoting, something, but apparently not the brand. Most represent high-cost production values and in most cases using hired talent instead of employees. The best one was a group of specialists standing around and proudly discussing the quality of the air in the patient rooms.
I have said it before, and I am saying it again, where is the differentiation? And what does the statement: "We have surgical air quality in all the rooms", mean? Does it even matter to a potential patient? "Quick, take me to the hospital that has clean air in the rooms!” said no patient ever.
Food for thought
Healthcare is changing, and marketing needs to change along with it. Especially on how we approach the market, differentiate our hospitals, communicate value and build a brand. If we continue to portray ourselves as "gee whiz" look at us with all these high-tech tools and research and clean air, all the while telling the consumer it's all about you without offering up a strong brand promise and call-to-action, then what is the point of spending all that money?
The patient experience will differentiate you.
If one focused the ad concept, copy and visuals on the patient experience and how it all fits together for the patients benefit, then you are differentiating. It is no longer about you, but about the patient. The content and context of the story are more powerful and compelling. Marketing can create a memorable and recognizable brand promise via a value equation that the consumer will understand.
Focus on the healthcare consumer and patient.
Focus on their needs.
Focus on the patient experience to drive revenue.
Focus on the patient experience to differentiate.
Most healthcare organizations are frozen in time, even more so now with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Many providers continue in the analysis by paralysis vicious planning cycle with no end in sight. Neither acting nor reacting, are most healthcare organizations missing out on valuable market opportunities? They are doing what they have always done, approaching the market like consumers are clueless and are only impressed with high-tech machines, smiling happy patients, exterior building visuals and doctors looking into microscopes.
Start meeting healthcare consumer as well as patient needs and build your brand around experience by framing those expectations to your advantage.
Michael is an internationally followed healthcare blogger, business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.
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