Bill Swanston

You’re close to your patients. You’ve served many of them for years. You have access to NRC data, and you can find secondary research to back up your assumptions. You know the competition. You have the tools you need to build consensus on marketing and branding platforms. Right?

Several of our healthcare clients have helped us debunk many of these myths associated with market research – check out the top three below.

Myth 1: Marketing by committee is always a good idea.
A hospice company in South Florida acquired several home health companies. Their objective was to unite them under a single brand identity. The board of the parent company was comprised of the officers of the individual companies and community influencers, all with very strong opinions.

The home health officers thought the hospice company’s name was too closely associated with death and dying to represent home health. They believed that each of their companies had strongly established brand equity.

Our findings gave the president of the combined entity the data he needed to convince the board and influencers to unite under the hospice company’s brand:

  • The home health companies acquired by our client had very little awareness (less than 3% for each).
  • The hospice company had over 50% awareness in three out of five catchment counties. It was closely associated with end of life care; however, it had one of the highest reputation scores we had ever seen (66% top box, 87% top two box).

Myth 2: Most patients want the same things, so national research can guide us.
A hospital in South Georgia was experiencing out-migration in its Ob/Gyn service line. By building a new women’s center, they were attempting to keep those patients at home. Housing all women’s services under one roof would offer the key elements of location and convenience.

National research does show that convenience, geographical proximity and health insurance alignment are all important factors in patient choice, but our research with women in South Georgia uncovered more. By making the women’s health center more efficient and offering amenities women valued, it is more attractive to the women in their area:

  • Time is a valuable commodity, and women will switch practices if they encounter long wait times.
  • Patients want to be treated like women. They want robes (not paper sheets), spacious dressing rooms, flowers, a spa-like atmosphere, coffee/tea/bottled water and towlettes.

Myth 3: Keep it simple.
A hospital client in Tennessee was crafting a brand strategy for its cardiovascular service line.

Hospital leadership felt strongly that their affiliated practice (named for the lead doctor) was the area’s most prominent, and the marketing team believed that a simple, non-scientific term should be used as a descriptor.

Our findings were somewhat surprising:

  • The practice with the highest awareness level was affiliated with a competitor. Even so, our client’s hospital was most preferred for cardiology care in the area. Affiliation with the hospital added credibility.
  • Patients preferred the term “cardiovascular care,” choosing it over simpler designators like “heart care.”

Things aren’t always as they seem. We hope that Frederick Swanston can help debunk another myth: Market research is expensive. Ask us how custom research can help you economically reach your branding and marketing goals.