Focus on branding to attract healthcare consumers

As patients assume more active roles in healthcare decisions, hospital executives should make branding a top priority, according to the new issue of healthcare marketing report Protocol from Smith & Jones. With an active brand strategy, hospitals can align physicians and staff with the hospital's mission and identity, as well as make communications consistent.

"Until recently, it wasn't necessary to advertise healthcare services," Smith & Jones President and CEO Mark Shipley said today in a statement. "Hospitals are now forced to brand and market their services to retain even their local consumers' care spending."

Meanwhile, patients are choosing health insurers based on brand reputation, reported The Financial. That should signal a warning to hospitals that they need to strengthen their brands to attract patients in today's competitive healthcare environment.

"More than ever before, consumers are paying increased attention to their healthcare options and selecting products and services they prefer to consume. As a result, positive brand recognition has become and will increasingly be critically important," Debra Richman, senior vice president of healthcare business development & strategy at Harris Interactive, said in the article.

To develop a strong brand, hospital executives must gauge the brand from the patient's point of view to figure out what they like or dislike about the brand, according to a March blog post from StrategicPlanningMD. It also noted that a great hospital brand appeals to emotions with a powerful experience that goes beyond quality metrics and connects to patients.

Some of those strategies can be seen in Washington state, where EvergreenHealthcare has rebranded itself as EvergreenHealth to better emphasize its highly personalized care and dedication to patients and the community, the hospital district announced earlier this month.

For more:
- read the Protocol announcement
- here's the StrategicPlanningMD blog post
- here's the Evergreen announcement
- read the Financial article