The impact of hospital consolidation on marketing and branding

According to The Current State of the Patient Experience, a recent survey by GE and Prophet, “Hospital consolidation is rising as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Hospitals are buying other hospitals, physician practices, and ancillary healthcare providers. These consolidations come in response to the need to connect care networks and enable a more cohesive approach in managing patient experiences throughout their journey.”

But often, consolidation comes with confusion in terms of how to brand hospitals and clinics with often disparate focuses under one umbrella without causing internal unrest. When everyone wants to keep their previous look, messaging, and process, change can be slow and painful.

Rebranding a consolidated system: CHI Franciscan Health
At GA, we have decades of experience in healthcare marketing and branding. For CHI Franciscan Health, we were tasked with developing an overarching brand awareness campaign for this then newly renamed nine-hospital system with hundreds of clinics. The challenge was positioning the individual hospitals and clinics as a united front, with a goal of driving patients to the health system’s top service lines. Through TV and radio, direct mail and emailers, print advertising, digital advertising, outdoor, grassroots marketing, creation of a unique brand song, and a social media campaign, we successfully united the formerly disparate parts under one brand umbrella.

Creating a playbook for change management: Providence St. Joseph Health
For this 120,000-provider strong health system that operates across six states, we were tasked with helping create a change management playbook. This is the template used for communicating new processes to standardize methods across the various hospitals. We helped put the template into practice, communicating a new internal transfer process, through various internal communications vehicles including the companywide newsletter, the intranet, and several training videos.

Tips for communicating change
Through our experience with CHI Franciscan Health, Providence, and others, we’ve developed the following tips to help manage change in your organization:

  • Create an internal communications playbook. Define your audience, roles and responsibilities, launch checklist, workback schedule, sample messaging, and sample reporting dashboard. That way, whenever there is news to communicate to employees across the organization, no matter which manager is leading the charge, efforts will be consistent.
  • Don’t throw too much at people at the same time. When communicating changes, such as a new way to access information or even a new look, work across departments to make sure that employees aren’t being overwhelmed with information.
  • Seek advice from experts. Create a small group made up of longtime employees representing the various hospitals or clinics you’ve consolidated. Ask them for feedback about what’s worked in the past and incorporate that into your plans.
  • Make resources available for people who miss it the first time—or join the organization after the rebrand. This background information will help them get up to speed easily.
  • When it’s time to rebrand, make sure that every stakeholder has a seat at the table. Involve leaders from each facet of the organization to ensure that everyone feels heard. Having a neutral third-party lead discovery sessions can help ease tensions when coming together for the first time.

Remember the old marketing adage that it takes seven touchpoints to reinforce the message before you expect to see adoption. So, you’ll have to creatively communicate the same information in different ways in order to influence positive change after a consolidation.

Market to patients like customers