Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Lessons from the Field – What is the Hospital Brand? A Test to Answer.

 

Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay

Last week’s Lessons from the Field post was about the hospital brand promise asking basically, what is it. An exciting number of discussions ensued. Except for a few notable hospitals and healthcare systems, the conclusion was that hospitals might not have a complete understanding of their brand promise to patients.   Most may not even be able to define the brand promise.

During those discussions, I took a step back and asked what the hospital brand is? Suppose you cannot articulate clearly and succinctly what the hospital brand promises are. In that case, the chances are excellent that the hospital and its employees do not know what the hospital brand is.

Hint, it’s not the logo and tagline.

Image by Andreaooi from Pixabay

Though the hospital logo and tagline should graphically communicate the core brand as best as possible, that is not the hospital brand.  In hospitals and other providers, the non-marketing professionals, from leadership to employees, usually think that is the brand. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth.

Why is defining your brand important?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


Because the patient and community deserve nothing less than to know what the hospital brand and brand promise are. Your employees, volunteers, and donors as brand ambassadors have a vital need to understand the hospital brand.  A highly undifferentiated market, which hospitals have managed to create for themselves over the years, directly impacts utilization and revenue. There is a greater need to attract and retain patients.  The shifting requirements of a changing competitive landscape. The need To grow and maintain payer relationships.

After all the hundreds of millions of dollars that hospitals have spent on marketing over the years, it still amazes me that too many hospitals are unable to define their brand or brand promise.

All hospitals are the same. Period.  

I think, from a patient perspective, it can be summed up by, “A hospital, is a hospital is a hospital, is a hospital.” There is little differentiation among hospitals with medical staff, technology, facilities, locations, medical services, or any other dimension you can consider.

In a situation like that, defining the hospital brand takes on new urgency as hospitals could be standing at the brink of commoditization where patients make choices based on price for standard services.

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic changed everything.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


This brings us to changes in regulations, such as searchable hospital prices for common procedures, the adaption of telemedicine by patients, and the rapid innovation in access to and care delivery adopted by patients.

What was the market for hospital services 18 months ago might as well be considered the ancient past. That is how fast the COVID-19 changed the demand for hospital services. In that light, the hospital brand now takes on added importance, impact, and meaning. No longer can brand differentiation be left to a haphazard approach. The hospital employees, physicians, volunteers, Board, patients, and community know what the hospital brand is or they do not.

A test for the hospital.

Image by Willi Heidelbach from Pixabay

Using the Rule of Three, define the following for each section: 

1.       What are the three reasons patients started looking for you? 

2.       What are the first three places patients go for information? 

3.       What are the top three things you believe that patients already know about you? 

4.       What are the three most impactful aspects of what do? 

5.       What are the three relevant things that your patients might like better according to your competitors? 

6.       What are the three most important things about your hospital?

Now take the information and distill it down to three brand words representing the hospital.

XYZ Hospital = ­­_________+_________+ _________

Not so easy, eh?

Patients and the community will only remember three things about the hospital and its brand. You can define your brand and gain some differentiation from competitors, or you can take your chances and let the patient, community, and competitors define the hospital brand for you.

Choose wisely.

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist, and thought leader. As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters, is read in 52 countries and is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow American College of Healthcare Executives. An influencer in healthcare marketing strategy, communications, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. 

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Flipboard, and Triller. Use 815-351-0671 to message me on WhatsApp or Telegram for safe and secure end-to-end message encryption. Video conferencing available via Zoom, Goggle Hangouts, and for Skype use live:michael0753_2.

Signup for the e-newsletter Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox daily. Add your email address in the signup in the blog sidebar. You will not receive additional general or specific marketing emails.

For more topics and thought-leading discussions like this, join  Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Lessons from the Field – Why Clarifying the Hospital Brand Promise is Mission Critical

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Since 2016, much has been written and experimented with regarding the three marketing buckets to patients: engagement, experience, and choice. Much of what we wrote was applicable for the times, but the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic changed everything.

Everything from how care is delivered and accessed to patient paying a more significant role in accessing care through telemedicine and other innovations, hospitals are forced to become more patient-focused and responsive then they may have been in the recent past.   

Society is now beginning to emerge from the pandemic, returning to some semblance of normalcy, so marketing should not be focused on freshened up pre-pandemic messaging. The hospital should concentrate on communicating the hospital brand promise for today's changing healthcare market.

Understand that with the new healthcare reality, engagement, and experience of the patient, initial steps with searchable prices for consumerism and brand promise are all linked.

While these three topics can be considered separately, they are not unrelated to the strategic discussion.  Engagement, experience, and brand promise are three sides of the same triangle integrated to the point that action in one change the other two.

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

What is your brand promise?

Now one can say that it's a relatively easy question to answer. In some providers, it may very well be, while in others, not so much.  That is not a shot at anyone, just a reality of the marketplace. Hospitals are highly undifferentiated and bordering on commodity status. When hospital care becomes a commodity in patients' minds, it is not about what you do any longer; it's all about the price you charge.

And that, my friends, is why the hospital brand promise is so critical now in health care.

Living in a large metropolitan market with nearly 100 hospitals, I have the opportunity to see a lot of hospital advertising. And frankly, I have no idea what any of the brand's promises are. I don't know what their brand position is. I can't tell what their brand pillars are.  And to top it off, I don't even know what they do well.

What I do know about most hospital's brand promise is nothing much except for the following.

What I do know is that they all care deeply about me.  They all have everything I would ever need. The area providers rank somewhere in a third-party quality award, and some are in multiple awards. The hospitals all have great-looking buildings, wireless internet, private rooms and big HDTVs and technology, and 100s of physicians' providing the best quality care at the hospital. At the same time, they do the same with your competitors.

Questions.

Phrasing it differently, what is your brand promise? How is your brand promise different from all the other hospitals? What is your brand promise to the patient? Is it that you care all about me? Saying "we care" in some fashion may very well be an oxymoron moment for the patients? I have always thought caring about me was already occurring. Are you saying it's not?

Doesn't one think that a better brand promise for a provider would be "the trusted hospital to meet your healthcare needs?" This type of brand promise requires a dramatic cultural and organizational change in the hospital.

Today, what is needed today is for the hospital to clarify its brand promise internally and then in the market.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay
Take a step back and examine these three things. 

1.       What is the hospital brand promise?   What is the unwavering commitment to the healthcare patient?

2.       What are the brand pillars?  How does the hospital deliver on the brand promise? 

3.       What is the brand hospital personality?  What is the way the hospital acts to deliver on its brand pillars?

These are three questions for an undifferentiated market that are not easy to answer. But in answering these three questions and subparts, one will be able to execute tactically relevant marketing strategies and messages that have a meaning, impact, and drive growth.  

After all, if the hospital doesn't know the brand promise, how can one expect the patient and market to know? And judging from the lack of brand differentiation among hospitals, nobody knows.

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist, and thought leader. As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters, is read in 52 countries and is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow American College of Healthcare Executives. An influencer in healthcare marketing strategy, communications, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. 

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Flipboard, and Triller. Use 815-351-0671 to message me on WhatsApp or Telegram for safe and secure end-to-end message encryption. Video conferencing available via Zoom, Goggle Hangouts, and for Skype use live:michael0753_2.

Signup for the e-newsletter Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox daily. Add your email address in the signup in the blog sidebar. You will not receive additional general or specific marketing emails.

For more topics and thought-leading discussions like this, join  Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

The opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Lessons from the Field – 3 Why Questions for Clarifying Healthcare Provider & Vendor Business Decisions

 

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

I think a critical set of questions is left out of most healthcare provider and vendor business and marketing decisions. We all do our business, marketing, and strategic plans, trying our best to divine where the healthcare business environment is headed. Providers and vendors attempt to account for technological, care, regulatory, reimbursement, patient choice decisions, and unexpected innovation that disrupts an industry segment. We eye our competitors for weakness or emulate in some way.

Sometimes we take a strategic decision or take a marketing action simply because Modern Healthcare says so, attended a conference, seminar, or webinar, or a competitor took an unexpected direction and decided you needed to do that too. It could very well be because the CEO said so.

Often, we overlook asking the most basic of questions in all of our thinking and analysis, missing answers of strategic importance. While on paper and in our minds, it is all achievable, often, when things go off the rails in one or two parts of the plan, we scratch our heads in wonder with a perplexed look.

Why?

Because during the development of our strategies and plans, we didn't ask the fundamental question. The place for those questions is at the very beginning, not the middle, or the end of the process.

The 3 Whys Thinking Routine.

Image by Ross Mann from Pixabay
From what I have seen, I think it behooves us to begin using the three why's techniques before we embark on a new program or service.

Simply put, the three whys are an approach in clarifying the reasons for proceeding. The point is to quickly and efficiently vet the idea, program, or service before engaging organizational resources- time, staff, and budget developing a full-speed-ahead plan.

Speed kills.

It's one thing to have a clear and concise rationale for committing organizational resources in a rapidly evolving healthcare ecosystem. It is irrational to go full-speed-ahead when the stakes of survival are high without understanding the why.

Simplicity today can pay off big tomorrow.

It's not a coincidence that "why?" is a very simple question. It's an essential realization of the need to go a few layers deeper before doing important things. Whether it's expanding a service, adding new features, or creating a future business, clarity of thought is mission-critical. In case you're thinking, "cool, I can just ask why three times," you've got it wrong.   It does require some effort, consideration, and thought on your part. Honesty in answering doesn't hurt either—the first why question leads to a clarifying second why, then to the third clarifying why.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The three whys you should always ask.

·         Why do the program or service? 

·         Why might it matter to the market? 

·         Why your provider or vendor enterprise now?

Try the 3 Whys the next time you're thinking of making a big decision taking the time to explore a little deeper to see if you should continue moving forward or if you need to start from scratch. It may save you a lot of time, money, and headaches in the future.

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist, and thought leader. As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters, is read in 52 countries and is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow American College of Healthcare Executives. An influencer in healthcare marketing strategy, communications, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. 

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Flipboard, and Triller. Use 815-351-0671 to message me on WhatsApp or Telegram for safe and secure end-to-end message encryption. Video conferencing available via Zoom, Goggle Hangouts, and for Skype use live:michael0753_2.

Signup for the e-newsletter Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox daily. Add your email address in the signup in the blog sidebar. You will not receive additional general or specific marketing emails.

For more topics and thought-leading discussions like this, join  Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

The opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Lessons from the Field - How do You Use the Power of Thank You in Patient Experience?

 

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Does the headline question have you thinking?

There is a more profound meaningful patient experience, engagement, and marketing activity for hospitals than meets the eye in the headline.

When was the last time one said thank you to the patient for trusting you with their care, treatment, and recovery? Hospitals have doctor, volunteer, and employee events to thank them for all their hard work. But those activities, for the most part, are annual and expected.

When was the last time your hospital thanked a patient, not through a community event or a patient satisfaction survey asking for a high score or a patient-focused event, but thanked them while they were still in the hospital?

And that is the difference.

We all read, hear and talk about the mission of the organization and it is essential. The mission is what drives the hospital. It's the true north compass point for interactions with employees, physicians, vendors, and patients.  But, seemingly, scant attention is paid to patients who, by their actions, have chosen the hospital for diagnosis or treatment and, by inference, support the mission of the social financially with self-pay, copays, and insurance payments.

A moment of truth.

Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay
What prompted this blog post was something so simple as to leave a lasting impression. The other day I needed to donate some articles. I could have chosen any number of charities but decided to go to Goodwill. After being handed a receipt for the items, the individual looked at me and said, "Thank you for supporting the mission of Goodwill." It wasn't trite. It wasn't practiced. It was genuine, and he looked me in the eye when he said it.

It was powerful.

That simple act of thank you tied to the mission left an indelible impression.  The thought hit me that I never remember when a thank you was spoken in my hospital patient experience. Let alone tied to the mission of the hospital.  We mention mission at the annual and quarterly events, publications, and plaques in the hallways but not at all interactions.

Think about that for a moment.

At every interaction and touchpoint with the individual's use of a hospital, it is an opportunity to express gratitude and reinforce the mission of what the hospital is all about.

It's a moment of truth carried out one person at a time.

Image by Sozavisimost form Pixabay
The next time you think about saying thank you because the calendar says it's a special recognition month or an organizational habit of annually doing something in a particular period, think about the mission and moments of truth that happens every day.

It may be simple, but it's an excellent way to build engagement with your patients, their families, and visitors, as well as build the brand and brand evangelists.

When was the last time you said thank you to your patients for supporting the organizational mission?  Remember, it's not the extensive program that matters in patient experience and engagement; it can be the simple act of saying thank you that will make the difference.

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist, and thought leader. As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters, is read in 52 countries and is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow American College of Healthcare Executives. An influencer in healthcare marketing strategy, communications, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. 

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Flipboard, and Triller. Use 815-351-0671 to message me on WhatsApp or Telegram for safe and secure end-to-end message encryption. Video conferencing available via Zoom, Goggle Hangouts, and for Skype use live:michael0753_2.

Signup for the e-newsletter Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox daily. Add your email address in the signup in the blog sidebar. You will not receive additional general or specific marketing emails.

For more topics and thought-leading discussions like this, join  Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

The opinions expressed are my own.