Gaining clarity after a hospital merger or acquisition

Establish naming conventions across your health system using these tips

Your hospital just absorbed a new business. Great. This acquisition could potentially increase profit, expand market share and diversify your organization. Although this transformation creates opportunities for your business, it can also feel a bit chaotic.

Among all the chaos, though, we can try to help resolves some of the issues you’re bound to run into. Such as aligning your brand and providing some continuity across your healthcare organization. We help our clients establish a structure for naming facilities, service lines and practices to provide clarity to staff, physicians, and target audiences.

Before we skip to that step, however, it’s important to have a brand architecture in place. Once that is defined, it becomes much easier to set naming conventions and keep the organization on brand. The three most common brand architecture models are umbrella brands, endorser brands and a house of brands.

Umbrella Brand

An umbrella brand is when your hospital or health system has one unique brand name, and it serves as the face of the company. The success or failure of this brand affects the way consumers perceive your overall organization. An example of an umbrella brand is the Cleveland Clinic.

House of Brands

With a house of brands, the parent name is not identified. The products or services drive all the profit. In healthcare, this would be a hospital group or management company. An example of a house of brands is the Hospital Corporation of America.

Endorser Brand

An endorser brand is a well-known brand that links together other stand-alone brands. For instance, if the Cleveland Clinic associates with smaller institutions or hospitals that are not a part of their umbrella brand, then the Cleveland Clinic is the endorser brand.

Putting it all together

Once the brand architecture is in place, you can begin to establish a structure for naming facilities, service lines, practices, etc. In our experience, it’s important to choose naming conventions that are accurate and don’t mislead or confuse clinical or consumer audiences. For instance:

  • People commonly view a service line as the ability to care for a particular diagnosis or group of diagnoses. If you’re offering services that are not in a discreet location and there’s not a sign signifying where you are entering, then it’s not a center.
  • People commonly view a center as a place, such as:
    • A building or part of a building used as a meeting place for a particular group.
    • An office or other facility providing a specific service or dealing with a particular diagnosis:
  • People commonly view an institute as an organized specialization, sometimes a group of people, a physical place like a center, or sometimes both, such as:
    • A society or organization for carrying on a particular work, as of a literary, scientific, or educational character.
    • The building occupied by such a society.

Ensuring it makes sense

Additionally, in the age of information transparency, it’s important not to over-exaggerate your names. For example, if you have a few cardiologists, you can justify calling it a cardiac service. If you have cardiologists, a catheterization lab, a thoracic surgeon who works on hearts, an electrophysiologist, and a dedicated cardiac unit, you likely can justify naming it a center. If you have all of the above in numbers, plus interventional cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and actively participate in clinical trials for cardiac drugs and devices, you likely can justify naming it an institute.