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Abundance of Healthcare Quality Awards Weakens Marketing Value

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, May 8, 2013

Internet users must dig to find that information, however. Otherwise, the data is simply presented as averages for best practices/core measures, clinical outcomes, patient safety, and patient satisfaction. The website uses four symbols to indicate whether it ranked in the top 25% of academic medical centers, top 10%, average, or bottom 25%.


MU proposed rules

This methodology seems both too simple, and too complicated for the average consumer to understand. How can you take the average of a quality measure across six data sources and drill it down to four quality-representing symbols? Aside from it being iffy quality reporting, it doesn't make sense from a marketing perspective.

After a bit more digging, I discovered that UT Southwestern is not alone in these murky quality marketing waters, and the blame doesn't fall completely on hospitals.

The number of organizations ranking hospitals based on quality has proliferated in recent years, to the point that a high ranking is losing its value in the eyes of the public.

In fact, one-third of US hospitals—more than 1,600—won at least one distinction from a major rating group or company, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis. In the greater Fort Lauderdale hospital market, 21 of 24 hospitals were singled out as exemplary by at least one rating source. In the Baltimore region, 19 out of 22 hospitals won an award.

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1 comments on "Abundance of Quality Awards Weakens Marketing Value"


Mike Spanjar (5/8/2013 at 6:30 PM)
I don't see this as the travesty you've portrayed. Health care marketing is an exceptionally competitive space. Our many health care clients have varying success earning awards. The hospital that receives multiple top ratings from the most distinguished award organizations is proud of its accomplishments and wants to beat its chest so customers feel good about their affiliation with that hospital (and so the neighboring hospital system's customers take notice). The center that receives middling accolades is anxious to see how it can leverage them. The fees these organizations charge to use their logos or reproduce results don't negate the validity of the awards. Many have extraordinarily rigid criteria. Further, I believe consumers deserve to know where the quality hospitals are, regardless of which one has the most memorable advertising. Yes, we develop emotional campaigns. They, too, are important as part of the mix. But just try to tell a stellar hospital to keep their awards to themselves. Not gonna happen.