42 Tips for Building, Promoting a Hospital Brand

In a session at the Becker’s Hospital Review annual meeting in Chicago on May 17, Rhoda Weiss, PhD, a national healthcare consultant, speaker, author and editor of Marketing Health Services Magazine discussed a number of healthcare marketing and communications strategies for hospitals.

“You don’t need a big budget to do marketing — you can have a smaller budget and still reach your brand positioning and marketing goals,” Dr. Weiss said. “Because marketing is about relationships.”

Dr. Weiss, who teaches communications and marketing courses at the University of California at Los Angeles Extension, offered suggestions of ways hospitals can engage and encourage physicians and staff to build a better brand and achieve marketplace success. Here are 42 of those tips for hospitals:
  1. Write welcome letters and call new staff
  2. Encourage staff with signage such as, “through these doors walk greatest staff”
  3. Recognize newcomers as “buddies,” and assign them mentors
  4. Develop a robust orientation program for staff and families
  5. Create pride cards based on what makes staff proud
  6. Implement an employee of the day award
  7. Start a rumor or complaint line for patients and staff
  8. Go on “endless management rounds”
  9. Create professional development opportunities for employees
  10. Give out best attendance awards
  11. Create strong family wellness and fitness programs for staff and their families
  12. Develop walking challenges and circulate wellness newsletters
  13. Offer financial incentives to staff members who improve health
  14. Assign staff “brand ambassadors”
  15. Provide GED classes and scholarships for hospital staff members
  16. Put on “glad you’re here” one-year events
  17. Open an employee hardship fund
  18. Offer first time homeowner forgivable loans
  19. Recruit, retain, market aggressively, promote and elevate physicians
  20. Offer endless options for physician retention
  21. Connect physicians and their families with mentors
  22. Research; ask questions; relish data; be totally frank
  23. Reinvigorate, engage leaders — be champions of change
  24. Align strategically: Employ, affiliate, partner and integrate physicians
  25. Host networking events and dinners for physicians
  26. Meld the “personal with professional”
  27. Identify ways to make employees’ lives easier
  28. Collaborate in best-practice medicine
  29. Create “future task forces” in each physician specialty
  30. Showcase the hospital using multiple media
  31. Use benchmark data to persuade, not punish physicians
  32. Rethink hospital’s communication strategy with physicians
  33. Develop a physician navigator program
  34. Establish physician e-communities and women MD networks
  35. Put on “check the pulse” sessions and open forums with physicians and employees
  36. Market to physician office staffers, physician who are significant referral sources
  37. Promote the hospital in physician practice reception areas and exam rooms
  38. Engage referral services; offer same day scheduling
  39. Promote languages, reduce accents and improve speech
  40. Offer free screenings and complimentary physician visits for patients
  41. For physician integration and alignment, consider options beyond employment
  42. Produce quality videos that market hospital’s brand, keeping physicians and patients at the center of the story

Dr. Weiss stressed the importance of producing videos that are professional and engaging, yet not necessarily big budget. She said the most important thing is for hospitals to engage patients through a strong storyline, not an expensive video. Posting the video on YouTube will help it gain necessary exposure and improve hospital brand reach, Dr. Weiss noted.

She also discussed the importance of creating memorable experiences at hospitals: striving for strong first impressions, shorts waits, attention to detail when communicating with patients and making patients laugh when appropriate.

Dr. Weiss highlighted the importance of being aware of the distinct cultures of a hospital’s patient population. It’s essential to be able to market to and connect with ethnically and culturally divers groups as well as know how to tailor the message to each generation.  She broke down the four living generations into one-word descriptions, and says delivering targeted branding to each generation’s communication style will help organizations improve their brand.

  • People living during the World War II era are the “direct me” generation
  • Baby Boomers are the “engage me” generation
  • Generation X is the “educate me” generation
  • Generation Y, or Millennials, are the “connect me” generation

More Articles on Hospital Communication Strategies:


Bob Woodward: Healthcare Leaders Must Define What They Are Doing
Hospital Strategies for Surviving in a Changing Healthcare Environment
Best Practices for Strategic Communications During a Transaction

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