How VUMC Modernized Its Marketing Strategies

Marianne Aiello, March 1, 2017

In the face of unprecedented change in the healthcare industry, Vanderbilt University Medical Center has found ways to better engage patients and meet the high expectations they have developed as consumers.

Hospital marketing strategies have long been accused of lagging behind other industries in a number of categories, from technological integration to customer experience.

Now, consumers are more sophisticated and empowered than ever before, and hospitals are faced with two options—either meet patients' high expectations or surrender to the competition.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has chosen the former.

Heightened Patient Expectations
"Across the healthcare industry, providers like Vanderbilt University Medical Center are facing unprecedented changes," says Jill Austin, chief marketing officer for the Nashville, TN, medical center. Those changes include:

  • Uncertainty surrounding the ACA and the move from volume to value
  • The possible unwinding of the ACA's exchanges
  • Rapid innovation from new players in the field
  • The explosion of available digital channels
  • The move toward consumerism in healthcare, with consumers making decisions based on price, experience, service, and quality

"Marketers across every industry are facing a revolution in how they connect with consumers, and that couldn't be more true than for those in the hospital and health system world, which has struggled to keep up," says Brandon Edwards, chief executive officer of ReviveHealth, VUMC's agency of record.

"No longer are patients content with the out-of-touch hospital experience."

Today's patients expect the same level of interaction with their hospital as they do with top retail stores—the want personalized communications, a clear understanding of purchases, and a streamlined experience.

This new, heightened patient expectation is forcing hospital marketers to break down the walls between marketing communication disciplines.

New Marketing Strategies
VUMC has begun adapting its marketing strategies to better engage patients and meet their high expectations. They are doing this by pursuing and applying three new principles to their branding and go-to-marketing efforts:

  • Big data
  • Digital first
  • Personalized communications
Marianne Aiello

Marianne Aiello is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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