Your brand is not your clinical reputation

The common misunderstanding at the core of most provider brands

Healthcare providers all over the country make the same mistake about their brand. It stems from a core misunderstanding, likely brought on by a group of physicians who have influence over their organizations’ marketing. To many providers, brand is just another word for clinical reputation.

That’s a costly mistake. And it’s not just marketing purists who think so. In study after study, including one done by National Research Corporation, superior clinical outcomes aren’t even in the top 5 things that consumers base brand preference on. In fact, the same study found that most patients perceive little difference in the quality of care among the providers they have access to.

More important, by far, is how patients feel providers met their emotional needs. A feeling that a provider “treats me as a person” was the most popular driver, cited by 58.1% of the 25,000 respondents. Also important was simplicity. Providing the “most hassle free patient care” was fourth, cited by 42.3% of respondents. Cost appeared 5th, with 38.4% citing ‘good value’ as the top driver. It’s likely that this has grown, as shown by a Gallup finding that in starting in 2017, the cost of healthcare was cited as Americans’ top financial concern.

“Strongest clinical outcomes”, by comparison, was 7th on the list. It was cited by less than a third of respondents.

These drivers are new territory for providers. The people (i.e. doctors and nurses) who do the lion’s share of what any other industry would call ‘customer service’ are trained to be scientists, not psychologists, operations professionals or finance consultants. They’ve invested gobs of time, effort, money and energy into becoming experts at diagnosing and fixing medical problems. Indeed, they often derive a sense of identity from solving a difficult problem. They likely don’t derive the same satisfaction from the slow, patient work of listening, collaboration and guiding a patient towards self-discovery.

It’s new territory, but it’s the exactly the ground that providers need to cultivate.

What’s a brand, again?

At the risk of being pedantic, let’s remind ourselves what a brand actually is. As Marty Neumeier, one of my favorite branding geniuses, has written: “Brand is a person’s gut feeling about your organization.”

It’s a person’s feeling because brands are defined by individuals, not companies. It’s their gut feeling because people make buying decisions emotionally, not rationally. This is not what most providers believe, but it’s time they understand the consumer’s priorities.

To learn more about marketing and pricing strategies, read our new ebook, Mindset Reset: How the Cost of Healthcare is your Biggest Brand Opportunity, and watch for new blogs on the topic of marketing team’s role in managing healthcare costs and promoting your organization’s pricing innovations.

For more personalized help, you might want to schedule some time to chat with some of our experts. You can book an appointment right on our strategy director’s calendar here, or give us a call at 518.272.2800.