Healthcare Branding: Can You Control Yours?

Woman Smiling,Lying In Hospital BedYour hospital’s brand is being created everyday. It’s being determined most of all by patient experiences.

 Tom Peters, the management guru, recently spoke to the American Hospital Association’s Annual Leadership Forum and basically called the industry out. He recently had an experience in the Emergency Department of a well-known hospital, after his wife injured her ankle. The experience was not a good one. Unfortunately, it was probably much like the experiences of other patients at hospitals everyday across the country.

It’s interesting Peters’ comments were not focused on whether his wife’s ankle was given the proper diagnosis and treatment. Rather his comments were focused on their experience and how the service was so poor. Hospitals often think the thing that matters most is the treatment and medical outcome. It’s easy to assume that, since it’s involves one’s health.

But more and more it’s about the patient experience.

A hospital can be exactly “on” with the correct diagnosis and treatment and deliver great outcome. But if the experience of how the patient is treated and the environment in which the treatment is received is not positive – the hospital’s brand suffers. It’s no longer only about the medical aspects, it’s about the total experience.

Yes, hospitals have paid lip service to quality service, but not that many hospitals deliver it. And if the hospital doesn’t deliver on service, no amount of advertising or marketing can build a great brand.

For a long time, hospitals have made all kinds of excuses about what hinders or prohibits great service, but Peters pointed out some examples of hospitals, although only a few, who’s service outcomes are known to be outstanding. And of course his point is that all hospitals have the same requirements, restrictions and constraints, so if one hospital can deliver great service than all of them can.  Peter also emphasized that quality service and positive patient experience are mostly within the discretion of the hospital. And that will be true regardless of what “Obamacare” turns out to be.

It is indeed a consumer-driven economy and hospital brands are being enhanced or terribly downgraded everyday based not necessarily on medical outcomes but more on the quality of service provided.

The day his wife hurt her ankle, Peters was in “search of excellence.”  But he didn’t find it. Unfortunately, that’s a much too common occurrence in many hospitals

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