I recently had the opportunity to address the board of directors for a large integrated medical system who wanted to hear more about the work being done to improve the culture and the patient experience. It so happened that just before I spoke, their chief marketing officer reported on his plans to launch a new brand strategy including an ad campaign. I could see the heads nodding as he talked about the brand strategy and their eyes light up at the thought of the advertising that would promote their beloved organization through commercials, print ads, and billboards. As a marketing professional myself, I get really excited about the creative aspects of brand management. But after over 35 years in the business, I am crystal clear about where the brand experience happens in healthcare. It may begin with the ad campaigns but it’s during the actual encounters the organization that the lasting impressions are made. And it is here that consumers decide if they are willing to return or recommend.
During my presentation I explained the methods my team would be taking to improve employee engagement, accountability, and ultimately the patient experience. Again, I witnessed head nods. But I could see the light bulbs go on when I connected the dots between marketing, brand management and the patient experience. I reminded them that their workforce is comprised of thousands of brand ambassadors who, through their work at the bedside and in the medical practices were advancing the mission, vision, and values that cement the brand message in the hearts and minds of the consumers. It was obvious by the board’s reactions that they had considered patient experience work a nice thing to do, but hadn’t really thought about the link to the brand experience. Nor had they thought about the need to engage every employee as a brand ambassador in order to leverage their advertising dollars.
Healthcare has enough silos. Let’s make sure that there is a direct connection between branding and the patient experience. Your customers already see it as one and the same. Now let’s get the message out to the staff that they are delivering on the promise during every encounter with every customer, every day.