How Ascension's chief communications officer successfully rebranded the system

It's not easy to bring nearly 141 hospitals together under one name, but St. Louis.-based Ascension Health has attempted to just that. One leader took that goal to heart, and his effort paid off.

Ascension Health's Chief Marketing and Communication Officer Nick Ragone said that to rebrand the system, he had to foster an atmosphere of communication between the health system's 160,000 employees and executives as well as the public, according to a Medical Marketing & Media article.

Here are five things Mr. Ragone did to successfully rebrand the health system.

1. Integrate the national marketing and communications divisions. Mr. Ragone said to make the individual hospitals operate as one unit, they must have access to, and use, the same resources to accomplish their goals, especially in terms of marketing and communicating the brand aesthetic. In July, he integrated the national marketing and communications teams and created a shared services model, where leaders from several markets work together and share campaigns.

"We realized it was wildly inefficient if our health system in Texas wanted to do a campaign on primary care, it would hire its own agency and do its own research and media buying. Then if another market wanted to do a similar campaign, it would do everything on its own as well," Mr. Ragone told Medical Marking & Media.

2. Bigger emphasis on analytics. While the teams did not see many staff changes, the new model created new positions around analytics, which Mr. Ragone said has saved the health system a lot of money because it allowed executives to understand what was working and what wasn't.

"[Utilizing analytics] has already paid dividends, and we've saved a lot of money," Mr. Ragone explained. "We are more consistent in our approach, for example with digital and social. We have much better analytics because we have one set of media buyers. It has made a world of difference, and it's where we need to go."

3. Connecting the different brands. According to Mr. Ragone, the biggest hindrance to the health system being widely known was its disconnected hospital brands. Since September, each hospital in the Ascension family will have the brand's name before the individual hospital's name. St. JohnProvidenceHospital in Warren, Mich., for example, became Ascension St. Joseph Providence. The national rebrand made it easier for patients to easily identify Ascension hospitals and will raise the profile of the brand by bringing each hospitals' innovation and work under a single name.

4. Speaking up about issues in the industry. Mr. Ragone claims speaking up about recent healthcare issues with the ACA, drug pricing scandals and cybersecurity problems makes the brand a much more reputable source. It also increased the health system's leaders' visibility on a national scale, according to the article.

5. Putting the brand's mission front and center. Mr. Ragone said where the brand differs from other health systems is in its Catholic roots. Ascension places its faith-based heritage first.

"We are the largest Catholic and nonprofit healthcare system in the world," said Mr. Ragone. "People trust us to care for them, not just their physical needs, sometimes their emotional needs or their spiritual needs, too. We care for the whole person, and that really comes out of our Catholic heritage."

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