7 tips for successfully rebranding a healthcare organization, engaging patients

At the Becker's Hospital Review Annual CIO and CEO Roundtables in Chicago, Nov. 4 and 5, Mark Viden, director, digital strategy and brand management at San Francisco-based Dignity Health; and Sue MacInnes, chief market solutions officer at Medline, discussed the importance of brand management for hospitals and how hospitals can align their brand with great patient experience.

"The current healthcare landscape has given to consumerism among patients due to increasing costs and healthcare reform," said Ms. MacInnes. "Thus, we are trying to understand the consumer. What is important to them? Care location? Physicians? Costs? Patient experience? Quality data and transparency? Patients are making value-based choices."

To help them weather the changes, many healthcare organizations are rebranding to engage existing and potential patients. Mr. Viden discussed the rebranding efforts of Dignity Health, which used to be known as Catholic Healthcare West. "The organization is value-based and has a very strong mission," said Mr. Viden. "But we realized that we needed to set the stage for this new wave of consumerism and so we decided to develop a new national brand."

Here are seven tips for rebranding a healthcare organization, according to Mr. Viden:

•    Listen to internal and external stakeholders.
•    Find a new name that is real — not a made-up word — and available, and communicate it to as many stakeholders as soon as possible.
•    Buy-in from the leadership is essential, especially when communicating the new brand to employees.
•    Remind employees that while the name of the organization and brand may have changed, the values and vision of the organization have not.
•    Rebrand the organization website and use social media to explain the change.  
•    Ensure consistent visualization of the new identity.
•    Expand the brand in innovative ways.

Medline partnered with Dignity Health and together, they developed new and unique ways to expand the brand while improving patient experience.

One of their most successful initiatives was the implementation of the Dignity Health "quiet kit." The kit is a pillow-shaped box placed on every patient's bed, which includes an eye mask, earplugs, lip balm, a notebook in which patients can note down questions for their care team, "voices down, please" door hanger, a puzzle book and a pencil. "We personalized the items we were giving to our patients, adding to a complete patient experience," said Mr. Viden. "We managed to keep the quiet kit cost-neutral. The cost of the new items were offset by the 13 percent of cost savings we gained from standardizing the products and the scale of the purchase. We present it as a gift for their comfort."

"It's about the small things," said Ms. MacInnes.

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