Amidst the disruption, strong healthcare brands will prevail
The good old days of healthcare system and hospital branding and marketing are over. How will you survive and thrive in the new paradigm? By building a strong healthcare brand that stakes out your territory and your audiences.
Changing Nature of Healthcare Competition
Competition is no longer just down the street, nor limited to the traditional confines of healthcare. Boundary lines have been redrawn, and national retail pharmacy brands, big-box retailers and both established and new technology companies all want a piece of the action.
At the same time, proactive healthcare consumers have replaced passive patients. No longer tied to the hip of their physician, they have choices, information, resources and technology tools – an entire ecosystem of health and wellness resources to take more control over their health. And, complements of the Affordable Care Act, there are more than 30 million new consumers who’ve entered the market for healthcare services.
Healthcare is in the midst of disruption. It’s being pushed, pulled and morphing into a health and wellness market that crosses multiple verticals and demographics, intersects consumers looking to get well, stay well and play well and moving to a model of value-based care. Where it stops nobody really knows. But everyone knows that the traditional healthcare operating model is on borrowed time.
Oliver Wyman, in their report titled the Patient-To-Consumer Revolution, refer to “Health Market 2.0 as a space where new kinds of companies offer combinations of services never seen before, redrawing industry lines and engaging consumers in new ways.”
But even within this fluid environment, there’s one thing that no competitor, no matter how well resourced they are, can take from you. That is, they can’t stake a claim to your healthcare brand ideas – who you are, what you believe and why people should care.
Taking Your Place At The Table
It’s our belief that healthcare systems and hospitals must seize the opportunity to take their place at the new “health and wellness” table by taking control of their brands. Building a brand is the one asset that is sustainable into the future – regardless of business model. Your branding strategy is also the one asset that in the midst of the rise of consumerism and more empowered consumers, is at the heart of your customer relationships.
Four implications for healthcare system and hospital leaders are as follows:
Who you are is beyond what you deliver
What you deliver looks much the same to the outside world and doesn’t distinguish you from others. Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, Nike and Converse, Virgin and United – all similar in their product offerings, but your mind and heart quickly gravitate to one brand promise or the other.
Is this the same for your hospital versus the one on the other side of town? Or how about vs. the retail pharmacy and its health partner down the street (a la Rite-Aid’s Health Alliance Program)? What you deliver can be ripped off tomorrow. Bravely declaring who you are through your branding strategy is sustainable, distinguishable and pulls people towards you.
Demonstrate brand beliefs
How you behave in the world – and in your new consumer-oriented health vs. healthcare market – is becoming increasingly important. Create easy linkages to your brand by becoming more relevant to people’s everyday lives – engaging them in their own health and empowering them by making health and wellness easy and personalized anywhere and all the time.
While some traditional healthcare services might be shrinking, the demands of “health 2.0” communities will still be as great as they’ve been in the past. Use your brand muscle to find your organization’s soul, its authentic purpose, and creatively express that in actions, communications and customer experience.
Bring mobile/social front and center
Your customers increasingly rely on a mobile device (be it smartphone or tablet) as their first screen, their doorway into your healthcare system or hospital and as means to manage their own health. As a result, they’re expecting better, more personalized, real-time digital experiences. Their journey with your healthcare brand must take into account mobile (which is really digital, social and search all wrapped up in one) as an integral part of their lifestyle. More about mobile here.
Create a seamless brand experience
Customers shouldn’t be burdened by the artificial barriers that exist between your services, departments and channels. How can your healthcare brand truly live up to its potential (and how can it help people live up to their potential) when your customer experience interactions are artificially siloed. The more you can get over your own infrastructures, the more value you can provide, and the more loyalty, patient engagement and advocacy you’ll gain as a result.
Look outside your immediate industry
No longer can you meaningfully benchmark your organization against other healthcare systems and hospitals. Because your competitive set has drastically expanded. And customer expectations have followed suit.
Just because you’re in “healthcare”, doesn’t mean customers compartmentalize their healthcare experience from outside industry experiences. What they get from Open Table, Amazon, Southwest, et al, they expect from you. “Brand experience” is “brand experience”, irrespective of category.
Regardless of how “healthcare” shakes out, one thing is certain. It will. It’s up to you whether your healthcare brand has a seat at the table.
Since 1999, Trajectory has worked with clients across the healthcare and wellness continuum — helping them unlock the potential of their brands to leave their mark on the world. Reach out for a no-obligation consultation.