Bill Swanston

Trends in Community Hospitals Part 2: Humanize Your Brand

The digital age has given patients the power to become more knowledgeable healthcare consumers. Technology is giving them access to online resources, allowing more financial responsibility for their own care and more non-traditional care choices. Meaning that the adage, “If you build it, they will come,” no longer holds true for community hospitals. Because of this, community hospitals are searching for new tactics to reach their patients.

Frederick Swanston conducts an annual survey among hospital marketing managers to uncover some of the common issues facing community hospitals, and how marketing can help address these challenges. This is the second of three blog posts discussing what we uncovered in our ongoing research.

Branding: Connect with Your Patients

In our survey, we asked community hospital executives about the measurement and tracking of their brand strength. Only twenty percent of respondents reported tracking their hospital’s brand health, top-of-mind awareness and service line preference within the last year. Thirty-three percent of community health executives tracked preference among their competitive set and advertising recall, and less than fifty percent of our respondents have segmented their market by demographics and psychographics. By tracking these datasets more regularly, community hospitals would better understand their brand strengths and in turn create more compelling messaging that connects with consumers.

Building customer loyalty starts with branding. Being able to connect and understand your patients and consumers, and for them to understand your brand in return, is imperative to building strong relationships and patient loyalty. Deloitte wrote about some ways to create the best possible relationship in an article titled, Growth of consumerism in health care; Rethinking patient engagement strategies. They found that “understanding how consumers’ behaviors and expectations are transforming – and acting on that transformation to win the hearts and minds of consumers and support them as they navigate the health system – is increasingly a business imperative across the health care industry.”

As a healthcare marketer, here are some questions to think about as your hospital builds a brand that connects with your patients:

  • When did you last evaluate the health of your hospital’s brand?
  • What’s most important to your target market?
  • How do you perform on key attributes that drive consumer preference?
  • Do perceptions of your brand differ by consumer segments?
  • What is your hospital’s unique story?
  • What are you doctors’ unique stories?

Frederick Swanston has helped hospitals across the country address branding through strategic, effective marketing. To find out how we could help your hospital, send us an email and stay tuned for part three of this blog series focused on community hospitals.