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Hospital Marketing Chiefs Get Strategic

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, February 13, 2011
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The strategic role

This online marketing venture is just one of the ways Hendery is positioning her department to become more strategic and less tactical. Baystate has also recently invested in software that allows service line leaders to create their own brochures, invitations, and flyers—a responsibility that previously consumed a good deal of the hospitals’ two graphic designers’ time.

“We’ve been able to free up our own staff for the strategic priorities of the organization—that’s one of the ways we’re shifting,” Hendery says. “We’re also much leaner—we’re reducing expenses substantially—and we’re doing much more with social media and purchasing ads on Facebook instead of buying ads in the newspaper. We’re able to track the ads in analytics and are able to see if they’re working for us in a more effective manner.”

Inova Health System, based in Falls Church, VA, is also modifying its initiatives to become more strategy-focused.

“When I came into Inova Health System they had a traditional, conventional approach to marketing like much of healthcare did and still does. One of the things I found about that model is that it was more tactical execution-based than strategy-based,” says Jeff Cowart, Inova’s vice president and chief marketing officer from 2006 to 2010. Cowart took on the role of senior vice president for growth and sales at San Antonio’s Baptist Health System in early 2011.

When Cowart started at Inova’s six-hospital system, he found that much of the marketing team’s focus was dedicated to projects such as creating a cardiology campaign for heart awareness month and an oncology campaign for breast cancer awareness month. But Cowart changed the department’s approach by making the marketing revolve around the message rather than the other way around.

“When you start to move to a message model, you start to think about the long term of how you want to position this brand or this service,” he says. “Then you start to see all of the campaigns as connected, so it doesn’t matter whether you have a heart campaign or cancer campaign, you make sure they’re carrying the overall message you want to communicate.”

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1 comments on "Hospital Marketing Chiefs Get Strategic"


Gary (3/2/2011 at 5:29 PM)
One of the areas most overlooked by hospital marketing dept's is the hospital's managed care contracts. A hospital's (claim) write-offs for managed care rates/discounts SHOULD BE viewed as marketing dollars - because there is certainly a defined 'cost' for the contracted payer/network delivering the patient to your facility - and that 'cost' is your contractual adjustment. If your system or hospital has entered into managed care contracts that typically render reimbursements that are less or only slightly more than your actual costs of providing the services - any add'l marketing or advertising dollars only diminish your reimbursement.