In this fast-paced, changing healthcare universe, hospitals are faced with a difficult healthcare brand strategy challenge: Carefully transitioning their brand from one of “sickness” to “accountability.”

While fee-for-service reimbursement will persist for the foreseeable future, population-based and risk-based payments like capitation will become an increasing reality.  In this changing paradigm, it is not enough to be viewed as just a system that treats people when they are sick or injured.

To survive in the post-reform marketplace of 2013 and beyond, hospitals need to begin a brand journey toward accountable care—a system that proactively manages the health of its community with revenue based on value and the combination of quality, efficiency and patient satisfaction.

This major shift in care philosophy has many brand implications:
A place to go when you’re sick A partner for living a healthy life
Acute services and readmissions Prevention, wellness and chronic disease care
“Why are you here today?” “What’s your goal?”
“My patient” “Our patient”
“Doctor’s orders” Shared care plan
Volume Value
Fee-for-service contracts Premium-based contracts

To navigate this shift, remember that brand strategy still rests on the fundamentals:

  • Start with your business objectives and strategies
  • Get your story straight
  • Lean into your equity
  • Assess trust
  • Acknowledge shortcomings
  • Explain change (internally and externally)

Reimbursement isn’t the only change in this new accountability paradigm—competition takes on a whole new dimension. “At the Corner of Happy & Healthy,” the new mantra for Walgreens and their TakeCare Clinics, symbolizes the brand repositioning underway at a number of companies poised to disrupt the patient-doctor relationship.

According to Walgreens’ company overview, their vision is “to become ‘My Walgreens’ for everyone in America by transforming the traditional drugstore into a health and daily living destination.”  Consumers are buying what they’re selling:

Sick - Chart

A new economic scorecard will judge hospitals of the future. While you need to honor your hospital’s heritage, you also need to evolve your brand to support the changing delivery system and new competition. By understanding the current strengths of your brand, engaging your organization in brand development and taking deliberate steps toward “wellness,” you will be in a position to be perceived as attractive and a good partner by all—community organizations, insurance companies, other healthcare systems with merger potential, and most importantly, your consumers.

Note: To hear more about healthcare brand strategy through the transition to accountability, join Dan Miers, SPM’s Chief Strategy Officer, for the case-study session “There’s a Hospital-Shaped Hole in My Brand” at the upcoming SHSMD Connections 2013 conference, October 1, 2013 at 2:40 pm.

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Dan Miers

Chief Strategy Officer at SPM Marketing & Communications
Dan anticipates “what’s next” in our complex industry and keeps SPM on the leading edge of healthcare policy and strategy. A valuable resource to all SPM clients, his strategic insights focus how we understand and apply industry trends to client issues. With 20 years of experience, Dan has two master’s degrees in healthcare administration and finance, worked in business development at an academic medical center, and launched a healthcare technology company. He is also a frequent speaker at industry events and an active member of the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD).
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