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A Campaign Worth Owning

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, May 14, 2008

Click to view pdf version.The patients at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, MN, really take ownership of their medical conditions—and that's how the hospital's marketers like it. "My breast cancer. My doctors. My Fairview," reads the ad for the hospital's breast cancer care program. The seven other patient-testimonial ads have similar taglines relating to different service lines.

The 390-bed hospital decided to use patient testimonials when they launched the "Taking Exceptional Care of Patients" campaign in January because research showed that local consumers identify with real patients' stories. Intense competition in Fairview Southdale's market also contributed to the need for a strong campaign.

"The campaign is an outgrowth of an effort that spans operations, process improvement, physician alignment, and a system-wide effort to better focus efforts on areas of clinical excellence," says Kristin Smith, the director of marketing and public relations for the Fairview Southwest Care System. "Specific to Fairview Southdale Hospital, we are in a highly competitive geography, with key competitors within a 5–10 mile radius. To maintain or grow inpatient and outpatient market share, we must continue to have a presence in the marketplace."

To make their presence felt, the hospital advertised on the Internet, radio, buses, billboards, and in newspapers. The seven patients are each featured in seperate ads, and speak for the hospital's heart attack, peripheral artery disease, knee replacement surgery, weight loss, stroke, breast cancer, and lung cancer services.

The campaign is running in the hospital's primary and secondary service areas, including the city's 13-county metro area. Now, more than four months out, Smith says the campaign has received a great deal of positive feedback.

"Brand monitoring research reveals key indicators improved as well, particularly in the areas of unaided awareness improved and consumers choosing our hospital for life-threatening concerns," she says. "Web traffic improved dramatically during the campaign's run, as did attendance at on-site health education programs featuring physicians in strategic growth areas."

These results are good news, especially considering that Smith says the hospital had aimed to spread the word about their cardiovascular, oncology, orthopedic, emergency, and other multispecialty services. By creating a campaign in which patients take ownership of their healthcare, Fairview Southdale's marketers have also shaped a hospital that is taking ownership in its market.


Marianne Aiello is an editorial assistant with HealthLeaders Media. She may be reached at maiello@healthleadersmedia.com.