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Rush University Medical Center Lets Its Doctors Do The Talking

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, September 8, 2010

Last month I wrote about how ABC reality series Boston Med enhanced the reputations of three Massachusetts hospitals by allowing physicians to speak off the cuff. But if your organization doesn't have a reality show in its future, you can still garner similar publicity by allowing your doctors' and staff's personality to shine through your advertising. Rush University Medical Center did just that with its "Rush Stories" campaign.

The 676-bed hospital began featuring physicians in its advertising in 2003, after determining a gap in the market.

"Our physicians and nurses and other clinicians are focused on what's best for patients," said Lori Allen associate vice president for marketing and communications at Rush, in the August issue of Healthcare Marketing Advisor. "It sounds like something anybody could say, but I've worked at other places and it feels different here. Our physicians feel more approachable and we want to express that in our marketing. So when we're defining our brand, we knew that we wanted that to come across in all of our marketing and there was no way better to do that than put them out there as themselves."

Working with La Grange, IL, marketing communications firm SPM, Rush decided it needed to have a stronger voice in the marketplace to make itself stand out from the four other academic medical centers in Chicago. After speaking with physicians, Rush marketers and the SPM team determined there was something unique about the group.

"Every hospital as a unique personality and what struck us about these Rush doctors is as a group they were uniquely warm and caring individuals, who just happened to be brilliant researchers and clinicians," said Gary Storandt, CEO of SPM. "With that personality we really wanted to bring that to the forefront."

Initially, the physician-focused ads honed in on the doctors' personalities and specialties, but for the past few years the campaign has transformed into a platform to tell specific patient stories. To do this, Rush marketers ask groups of physicians and nurses to recommend patients that stick out in their mind.

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