A healthy rebranding effort.

September 3, 2014 / Branding, Healthcare
Rebranding healthcare

Following its decision to stop selling all tobacco products, CVS Pharmacy has undergone a rebranding. The company will soon adopt the new name CVS Health, a strategic move that reflects a growing trend in the healthcare industry.

“Healthcare is going retail,” says Skip Snow, a health care analyst at Forrester Research,“ especially for people without privilege.” With the flood of new patients insured through the Affordable Care Act, drug store chains like CVS see an opportunity to provide basic care to consumers who may not want to wait to see a doctor (or may not have easy access to one in their area).

CVS already operates 900 walk-in medical clinics (“minute clinics”) where customers can receive basic health care services like blood pressure testing and flu shots. The company has entered partnerships with more than 40 health systems, including local hospitals, to help run its clinics.

While we applaud this rebranding effort and think it’s a smart strategy, we have one concern: Given this increasing commitment to being a basic health care provider, shouldn’t CVS stores stop selling junk food, candy, sugary soft drinks and alcoholic beverages? If they’re truly going to be a brand that’s committed to health, those products are not appropriate merchandise.

After all, consistency and clarity of message are essential to any rebranding effort.

Photo:  Ron Cogswell  (Creative Commons)

What millennials think about healthcare.

August 18, 2014 / Healthcare, Sales/Marketing
millennials healthcare marketing

Recent research provides some interesting insights into what millennials (18 to 34-year-olds) think about healthcare.

A study conducted by ZocDoc and Harris Interactive found that young people are so frustrated with the healthcare system that more than half said they’d actually delay seeking medical attention. “Seeing a doctor’s too much of a pain.”

The same study found even more startling statistics: 79 percent of millennial respondents think it’s easier to evaluate a new gadget than a new doctor or dentist and 76 percent think it’s easier to find information about a hotel than a medical provider.

A 2013 national poll of America’s millennials conducted by the Institute of Politics (IOP) at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government revealed that 57 percent disapprove of Obamacare, and less than three in 10 who are uninsured said they will definitely or probably enroll in insurance through the government exchange.

But millennials still get sick. So if you’re a health-focused organization, what’s the best way to communicate with this skeptical audience — convincingly? Here are some valuable tips to keep in mind:

1) Understand how millennials use technology and make it work to your advantage. 18 to 34-year-olds are a mobile “first” generation. They’re tied to their smartphones. A good mobile experience allows them to get information quickly and efficiently, without filling out length forms.

2) Cultivate peer-generated resources. Today’s young consumers are information driven, and they’re highly dependent on stories and recommendations from their peers, even more than from doctors. They seek health advice through online discussions, blogs, and social media — “places where they’re comfortable.” And they relate to healthcare stories about people their age.

3) Cut down on the phone communications. Millennials don’t like talking on the phone or waiting on the line to talk to a healthcare administrator. They expect immediate access to information and prefer to use their time efficiently. They may be glued to their smartphones, but they’re hesitant to pick them up to talk to somebody on the other line. Simplify communications with them by using e-mail, online communication dashboards, and text messaging.

Think about how your health care organization can build a relationship with the millennial audience. You can reach them. You just have to be smart about it.

Photo:  TheeErin (Creative Commons)


Hospital advertising gets personal.

July 28, 2014 / Advertising, Healthcare
healthcare advertising hospital

Becker’s Hospital Review published an interesting article last year, entitled “Hospitals, they don’t market them like they used to.”

With the healthcare industry becoming increasingly complicated (and publicized), hospitals have been forced to brand themselves more aggressively than ever before.

A few words of advice from an agency that does a lot of healthcare branding:  Sure, the credentials and publicized reputation of your hospital and staff (honors, ratings, etc.) are important. And so is highlighting your Centers of Excellence.

But healthcare is ultimately a customer experience. And according to a PwC Health Institute survey, healthcare customers can be hard to please. In a nationwide survey of 6,000 consumers across nearly a dozen industries, healthcare provider customers were the least likely to share a positive experience with others. Only 54% of these consumers talk about their positive experience, compared to 70% of retail customers and 66% of banking customers.

Healthcare consumers are also less forgiving of providers with whom they’ve had a negative experience,.
According to the PwC report, six out of ten negative experiences are more likely to be remembered longer in the provider industry than those encountered in other sectors. It goes on to state that the ideal healthcare experience in based on nonclinical factors like convenience, customer service and staff attitudes.

One of the biggest reasons cited for positive customer experiences was the staff. In their interactions with a hospital, doctor’s office or other provider, healthcare consumers are about twice as likely as those in the airline, hotel and banking industries to say that staff friendliness and attitude contributed to a good or bad experience.

Interestingly enough, although price was the biggest driver of purchasing decisions in all other industries in the PwC findings, price was the least important to healthcare customers. They were more likely to choose a hospital or doctor because of personal experiences, and this was two and a half times more important to them than it was to consumers in other industries.

Patient experience not only affects customer loyalty but also Medicare reimbursements. In October 2012 Medicare began basing reimbursements in part on patient satisfaction scores, cutting payments by one percent, or about $850 million for fiscal year 2013, under the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing program. Patient satisfaction scores now determine 30 percent of the incentive payments.

The takeaway:  Don’t neglect the “experiential factors” in your hospital advertising. And be sure to focus on human interest stories of patients you have been treated successfully  — and the “intangibles” that make patients feel more comfortable and cared for.

Being hospitalized is fraught with anxiety. Hospital advertising that focuses on positive experiences can help ease the uncertainty.

Photo:  MyFuture.com (Creative Commons)

Healthcare branding thrives in the Washington, D.C. area.

June 30, 2014 / Branding, Healthcare
healthcare branding washington dc

We’ve sung the praises of Kaiser Permanente before in these blogs. And now we’re doing so again.

Because here in the Baltimore/D.C. area, Kaiser Permanente is the model of health care integration — offering all the quality resources a person needs to stay healthy in one coordinate system.

At Kaiser facilities conveniently located throughout the area, you’ll find primary care physicians, specialists, X-rays, lab, pharmacy and optical all under one roof. The hours of operation are extensive and convenient, and there’s very little wait time for a scheduled appointment.

Health records are shared throughout the system in real time, so there’s no confusion about who saw what test result. And the facilities are bright, cheery and immaculate.

Not only is Kaiser Permanente a model of integrated healthcare, it’s the prototype for what healthcare branding should be. Everything Kaiser does as a system — and communicates as a brand — is focused on the patient experience. And as we’ve stated time and time again, the true value of a brand today is the experience it delivers.

There’s no better healthcare experience right now than Kaiser Permanente. And there’s no better healthcare branding.

“Thrive” is an apt tagline. (And we love Allison Janney’s voice.)

Photo: Torbakhopper (Creative Commons)