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7 Deadly Words of Healthcare Marketing

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, May 29, 2013

"These [words] are not distinguishing characteristics," says Szablowski. "This is what people expect you to be. We need to find words and use words in ways that families understand what we're doing. Put an experience around each of these words."

Being more descriptive in healthcare marketing can be a challenge because, as Szablowski rightly notes, hospitals want patients to know that the care they are receiving is comprehensive. So, how do you communicate that? At Dignity Health, one of the country's largest healthcare systems, Szablowski started by making sure that employees were engaged and that internal stakeholders were included in meetings to determine strategic marketing platforms.

"For example, physicians didn't know the other specialties we offered," he says. Employees, too, were unaware of all the services available and couldn't refer friends and family, or take part in themselves, thereby causing leakage, which according to Szablowski and Rosenberg, ranges from 30%–40% at some organizations.

Rosenberg, who works with clients in Chicago, where mergers and acquisitions are high, says he always does internal stakeholder interviews and is astonished by what they don't know.

"Hospitals need to talk to employees about their services," he says.

Having engaged employees will not only lead to less leakage, they argue, but it also builds on the foundation of delivering a positive patient experience, which we know from the HealthLeaders Media 2013 Industry Survey, is a top priority at healthcare organizations across the country.

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3 comments on "7 Deadly Words of Healthcare Marketing"


Nirav Desai (5/30/2013 at 3:15 PM)
This is a great list. I agree that these are generally meaningless to patients, but they might have been useful for providers at a time when they were underused. Now they are so overused that they are undifferentiating. They also try to be so "comprehensive" that they don't convey real benefits. I think the challenge that many healthcare marketers have is that they want to say so much that they have to try to come up with all-encompassing words. Instead, if they could spend more time understanding their target audience's hot buttons, they could focus their message around just those and be much more specific and benefit-oriented.

eric brody (5/30/2013 at 9:54 AM)
Everyone involved in healthcare marketing – whether they're on client or agency side of the desk – should certainly appreciate and be able to relate to your ideas. Rather than comment on each of the "7 deadly words" and whether they should NEVER be used internally or externally [INVALID] I think the more important idea is that healthcare marketing can much more effectively connect with and engage audiences in more meaningful ways. Eric Brody President, Trajectory

Patrick T. Buckley (5/29/2013 at 5:30 PM)
Seven more deadly words of healthcare marketing: Seamless System Personalized Experienced State of the art World Class Compassionate