Home » Dr. Jayne » Currently Reading:

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 11/21/16

November 21, 2016 Dr. Jayne 5 Comments

clip_image002

One of the challenges of running a business is managing your brand. While branding is associated historically with artisans burning their marks onto products and with ranchers applying brands to livestock, modern brand management can be a tricky thing. While we often associate brand management with consumer goods, an increasing number of healthcare organizations aggressively manage their brand identities.

Where many faith-based organizations traditionally named themselves after saints, the last decade has seen those identities give way to more broadly-appealing concept-based names: Memorial, Dignity, Unity, Mercy, Ascension, and more. Corporate initials have become prefixed to the names of even more facilities, a change that is deliberate and belies a deeper strategy. Health systems have gone beyond the traditional mission and vision statements to create marketing taglines that are specifically designed to evoke a certain feeling about the facility and its services. As “patients” have become “consumers,” we’ve seen more and more health organizations that are looking at market share, competitive intelligence, and brand differentiation.

Hospitals often have aggressive marketing campaigns around their emergency department wait times, the luxury of their labor and delivery suites, the availability of hotel-like accommodations, and more. The competition for market share has long trickled down to individual physician practices, where being affiliated with a given health system can generate more business or greater prestige. Although these may have been loose affiliations in the past, they’re becoming more solid as groups of providers shift into Accountable Care Organizations and other risk-sharing arrangements. Organizations that understand their brand and how they are perceived by the community can make stronger plays in the market than those who can’t.

As I work in physician offices across the country, the differences in brand awareness are striking. Many physicians don’t understand how important having a corporate identity can be, or conversely what a disaster it can be if you don’t have one. Does the staff wear uniforms that match and have a practice logo? If there isn’t a uniform, is there a dress code? Or do staff just wear whatever scrubs are at the top of the clean laundry? It amazes me when practice leadership hasn’t given this any thought. Having a uniform appearance (which doesn’t necessarily mean there must be uniforms) can convey to the patient that their experience is going to be organized and predictable.

Even though my practice has a strict dress code, we sometimes struggle with this. Different team leaders have different levels of tolerance for deviation from the dress code, which can result in consequences when the CEO, COO, or a medical director arrives unannounced. The fact that there are penalties associated with failure to adhere to the standard makes a difference, though, and it quickly becomes clear that if leadership isn’t going to tolerate straying from the dress code, they’re not likely to tolerate deviation from our customer service or patient care standards, either.

I see physicians who struggle with their own idea of a dress code – white coats that are filthy at the cuffs and elbows, rumpled clothes, dirty scrubs, and shoe covers with holes worn through them. They may be brilliant in their field, but they’re missing the fact that their personal brand screams “messy” and “disorganized” rather than “capable” and “professional.” This concept of personal branding becomes even more concerning when it extends to a physician’s social media presence. Where some are skilled at keeping personal and professional personas separated, others offer up a confusing mix of messages that may be concerning to patients or potential patients.

Even those physicians who may do a good job managing their own personal branding and social media presence often struggle with managing how their employees present themselves. Do employees use the practice platform to promote their own interests? Does the practice have any say in how physicians and employees present themselves on platforms such as Doximity and LinkedIn? I’m seeing more organizations that are interested in trying to get a handle on these external platforms, making sure their employees help support the professional perception of the organization. Some may require employees that blog to add a statement that the opinions featured in the blog are not those of the employer. Others don’t seem to notice that their employees have social media profiles. Case in point: the marketing director of a local Catholic healthcare organization was wearing a shirt that said “sex, drugs, and rock & roll” in his LinkedIn picture while prominently featuring his employer’s logo on his profile. I’ve also seen plenty of non-clinical people wearing scrubs in their photos, which always baffles me.

Hospitals and healthcare delivery organizations aren’t the only ones in our world that are spending significant resources managing their brands externally. Many healthcare IT companies are actively managing their brands, even though those that may not admit to having a marketing department. Although some efforts can be counterproductive (remember the Siemens Healthineers debacle?), others have had significant success. HIMSS is the big game of healthcare IT marketing and it’s clear to see who brought their A game to the exhibit hall.

In dealing with many vendors in the course of my consulting work, however, I wish more of them would pay attention to internal branding and ensuring employees other than the marketing team can deliver a consistent message. I work with one vendor that often communications information directly to their client base without communicating the same information to their employees, which as you can imagine results in a lot of misunderstandings, particularly when the communications include release dates or break/fix information. Even though they’re a relative start-up, there’s no excuse for not having a communication plan that allows your internal team to be educated before you start sharing information with your customers.

There’s also no excuse for not having consistent, professional website bios for your senior leadership, but I can’t say I didn’t warn them. When nine of 10 execs have professional headshots and the other has a selfie from his most recent fishing trip, that’s probably not the image you want to convey, unless you are a vendor that runs a fleet of charter fishing boats.

What’s your brand? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

View/Print Text Only View/Print Text Only


HIStalk Featured Sponsors

     

Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. Nailed it! The minute a Client picks up the phone to ask a question about an education session they just attended and the sales team or the support team lack understanding of the broad topic nor can they address any detail or even provide next steps, you’ve just shown up ‘messy’ and ‘disorganized’.
    “Close the loop’ is one of my favorite work phrases and it hints at the ‘circle the wagons’ philosophy. Get everyone on the same page working towards the same goal of Client Success because if your Clients win or lose, so will you follow.

  2. 100% agreed, Dr. Jayne! I’m lucky enough to have a branding and marketing background, and while creating a brand for a new country superstar isn’t quite the same as creating one for someone in Healthcare IT sales, there are still a lot of similarities!

    I managed a team within a large healthcare IT company, and that team was focused on consultancy style projects, so I made sure all of their LinkedIns were up to date, e-mail signatures were accurate and on every email, smart photos on their Outlook and LinkedIn, and that they always knew what was up with the company and our role within the team.

    Branding is not a difficult thing to master. It just takes stepping back from what you’re doing, pulling your head out of the sand, and looking at your work from an outsider’s perspective. Unfortunately a lot of folks keep their heads in the sand because it’s not just their branding failures that they’ll notice when they actually take a hard look at their work….

  3. Great read!! Spot on.
    I especially like the reference to how healthcare companies aggressively market services to the patients/customers yet they have not operationalized or communicated expectations to the care delivery teams or staff! Patient portal use and response time is a YUUUGE one 😉! Keep up the great work! – Dave







Subscribe to Updates

Search


Loading

Text Ads


Report News and Rumors

No title

Anonymous online form
E-mail
Rumor line: 801.HIT.NEWS

Tweets

Archives

Founding Sponsors


 

Platinum Sponsors


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gold Sponsors


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reader Comments

  • BeenThereTookThat: Epic's Test is mostly a logic test. I took it and although it felt like ACT / SAT time, it was good to make me and other...
  • vdub: Amen to the response to Smuggler. Same goes for motorcycle riders that choose to not wear a helmet. I could care less i...
  • Denise Kennedy: Great article....
  • Wearyof it: Blah blah blah. Me me me. I am awesome. I can win even when I don't try....
  • Pedal Faster: Great post. But organizations are still run on emotion - they should actually use the data!...

Sponsor Quick Links