How 8 health systems track their brand perception

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To craft effective messaging strategies, healthcare marketing professionals must track the way consumers perceive and trust their brand. Below, executives from eight health systems across the country share their process.

Editor's note: Responses have been edited lightly for clarity and style.

Jigar Shah. Chief Marketing Officer at Providence (Renton, Wash.): Every brand has multiple dimensions. At Providence, we track brand performance via a brand effectiveness index, or BEI. The BEI is made up of four key metrics; awareness, recall, image and preference. We can aggregate the BEI for individual locations up to the system brand level and also drill down as necessary across regional levels. The platform we have selected for our measurement and tracking is a standardized industry tool and allows for a consistent approach across various service lines and over time. 

We also augment BEI data with custom brand research on key attributes and within submarkets/segments. This helps us triangulate the data and provide actionable insights. We have found this approach to consistently and reliably provide insights around the true healthcare needs of the communities we serve, areas in which our brand is performing well and where we have more work to do. 

Alexandra Morehouse. Chief Marketing Officer at Banner Health (Phoenix): Banner conducts brand research every six months across geographies and demographics to let us understand awareness, preference and likelihood to choose. We definitely see a correlation between ad spend and improvements in brand measures.

Suzanne Bharati Hendery. Chief Marketing and Customer Officer at Renown Health (Reno, Nev.): At Renown, we monitor the health of our brand to be sure we are delivering on our promise of excellent care and service, and improving perceptions of patients/members and our community. We do this in a number of ways. 

The first is that daily, outbound bilingual surveyors call patients to measure their experience with our providers and hospitals. We ask a specific question regarding their level of confidence and trust in the provider, hospital and the health system.

The second is we conduct quarterly pulse surveys, as well as an annual brand tracking study to measure net promoter score, loyalty, aided/unaided awareness and changes in service line preference, so we can align our communications accordingly.

Brian Deffaa. Chief Marketing Officer at LifeBridge Health (Baltimore): Quantitatively, we track primarily healthcare system "awareness" and overall "image" provided by a third-party study fielded monthly in our Maryland market. Composed of 300 to 500 healthcare decision-makers each month, it gives a fairly representative sample of how we're trending versus competitors and what — if any — parameters we need to communicate differently. We also look at a version of net promoter score and how likely someone would be willing to recommend us to friends and family for care. 

Qualitatively, we listen to our team members: Do they understand our mission? Are they proud of where they work? Are they engaged? Whatever the state of the brand, it will show up first in those who are most critical to it — our team members.

Vickie White. Chief Brand and Consumer Officer at AdventHealth (Altamonte Springs, Fla.): AdventHealth measures our brand awareness and perception through a custom online survey that we conduct monthly in the communities we serve. This survey helps us measure our system’s brand strength, awareness and perception among our consumers, which gives us insights into the progress of our strategic branding and communications goals. We also seek to understand what drives consumers' preference for our service lines, emergency care and hospitals by analyzing things like campaign recall, messaging comprehension and recognition.

Jeremy Harper. Chief Marketing and Consumer Experience Officer at Spectrum Health (Grand Rapids, Mich.): Spectrum Health has developed its own brand tracking and measurement approach to obtain an accurate assessment of community and consumer perceptions of brands. We measure consumer perceptions of healthcare brands with a proprietary brand tracking tool with a leading human behavior and analytics advisory firm. The brand tracker is a continuous and quantitative evaluation that helps Spectrum Health leaders across the organization better understand the impact of our actions on our reputation and helps drive continuous improvement to help us realize our mission. Consumer feedback captures sentiment on a rigorous set of metrics, and Spectrum Health uses a composite score that incorporates the stated and derived importance of each measure in driving overall brand health.

Sheila Champlin. Chief Communications and Marketing Officer at the Medical University of South Carolina (Charleston): MUSC measures/tracks our brand perception through monitoring all brand mentions and reviews in social and digital media, which helps us evaluate brand sentiment; regular surveys and gathering data from focus groups in our primary markets; customer surveys following visits and/or procedures; periodic brand valuation reports; feedback via affiliations, collaborations and through other community and business partners; responses to specific questions on annual employee engagement surveys; and patient and family input and observations via our patient and family liaison team.

Kary McIlwain. Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago: We do an annual brand tracker — it tracks attitudes, awareness and likelihood to use. It is valuable data and we are able to break it down by region and other demographics. We also frequently supplement with pulse surveys.

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