5 Tips for Building a Successful Brand Reputation in Healthcare Groups and Hospitals

By Ray Baird

If you are a healthcare executive or any part of a healthcare marketing department, managing your reputation should be one of your top priorities.

No matter how good your quality scores are or how great the financial health of the organization is, you won’t be successful unless your reputation is viewed positively.

So why do many healthcare organizations and hospital groups struggle to build and maintain positive reputations?

The problem is most healthcare and hospital groups don’t look at their company’s brand reputation in a holistic manner. This issue starts with not having a healthy brand reputation mindset that establishes the right view.

It should be the number one priority for each person in the organization to manage the brand reputation as it relates to their position in the company. This includes everyone from board members to the CEO to the admitting receptionist, all must adhere to the corporate narrative and governance in place.

Most healthcare organizations don’t monitor or have a system in place to evaluate the approach and execution of their brand reputation management strategy and program.

But what really is brand reputation? Its definition focuses on how a particular brand is viewed by others. A favorable brand reputation means potential buyers trust your company and feel good about purchasing your goods or services. And a positive brand reputation builds brand loyalty, increases confidence, attracts and retains exceptional employees, and ultimately, drives sales.

5 tips to building a successful brand reputation program

1. Determine your philosophy and methodology

A common mistake hospital marketers make is having a tactically reactive mindset. In order to build a sustainable and successful reputation program you must first agree on why it’s important and how it will be managed and incorporated into the workday life of each employee.

Think about it: The best run hospital groups make it a priority to promote and educate their employees and key stakeholders. Many of them build the patient and caregiver future experience to ensure satisfaction. But most importantly you need to consider how to create guiding principles to help your organization understand the importance of protecting its reputation.

The entire organization must be on the same page as it relates to your purpose, vision and mission; you can’t afford to have multiple or confusing narratives. Also, you need to consider a methodology for how the program will be communicated, monitored and shared – positive or negative data – to all shareholders.  Having a solid methodology in place year after year will ensure your organization is living and breathing the brand correctly.

2. Personas and touch point analysis for user experience

Once you have developed your reputation philosophy and methodology, it is critical to get a pulse on how your organization is currently performing. It’s best to break your user groups into specific segments: patients, physicians, caregivers, shareholders, employees, community members, etc. Start by building out specific personas for each group. Determine wants and needs, demographics, and preferred method of communication.

Once this is in place, create a touch point map that visually articulates every communication touch point (physical, verbal, digital). With this in place, rank how you think you perform at each intersection and assign an importance rating. This will help you prioritize your actions.

Don’t become overwhelmed. It may take 18-24 months to improve the user experience. But you will see short term success and confidence by working on the most important priorities.

3. Develop a road map for guidance and prioritization

With a solid understanding of how you are currently performing (touch point analysis) and clear priorities, it’s time to build a 2-3 year road map to guide your tactical execution of your reputation management plan.

Think about your road map with an internal and external focus. Determine the ultimate outcomes and desired state. Create the major categories that need to be influenced, such as leadership education, brand management, HR, etc. with executable strategies. By creating a road map with defined goals, outcomes and metrics, your organization will now be able to prioritize and budget with confidence. Without this methodology and system in place and continuing to work proactively, you’ll not be able to show improvement and prove success.


Sample Roadmap

4. Metrics to prove your reputation program’s success

Today it’s all about metrics. If you can’t measure it, you can’t prove it.

Start by tying baseline metrics into your road map. Broaden the scope in order to monitor some of the subjective brand imperatives. An example would be the ability for the executive team to articulate brand promise, or employees’ understanding their roles as it relates to brand and reputation.

Be sure to commit to a yearly perception study to compare year after year.

Most importantly, remember it’s a digital world today: Consumers have your brand in the palm of their hand. Specifically, develop digital marketing strategies to enhance reputation, for example email, social media, content, paid. Determine the specific metrics that tie directly to each enhanced experience. For example, if you are using email marketing to promote content, be sure to evaluate click through rates over a period of time to measure the type of content and subject matter that is most engaging. Most modern-day marketers have a dashboard in place with key KPIs for easier evaluation.

5. Make internal communication front & center for your reputation program

At the forefront of any reputation program is a solid communication plan. It may sound elementary, but many hospital and healthcare groups suffer from inconsistent or sporadic communications. A well thought-out program starts by auditing the current internal communication program and schedule. You’ll be amazed by what you find if you add up all of the communication points. With an acute understanding, develop a content plan that directly ties back to your internal communication strategy. Once completed, develop a weekly calendar and plan three months out. This will train the organization on the importance of strategic internal communication and send the sign that reputation management is of the utmost importance.