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How Hospitals Can Be 'Sherpa' Brands

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, June 26, 2013

That statistic alone should be enough to get hospital and healthcare marketers excited because it indicates consumers are ready to take on more responsibility for their own health. In healthcare marketing lingo, that translates to patient engagement.

But, an even more meaningful finding that gets to the heart of healthcare marketing is that 68% of U.S. consumers say it is important for a brand to help them make better decisions. Like the Sherpa who are experts at navigating the tricky Himalayan terrain, the study says brands can do the same for consumers.

Arnold's study cites well-known brands such as Loews, Monster, and Fidelity as being Sherpa brands. As an example, the study's authors say Monster is different from other job search sites because its Career Mapping tool, which is in beta testing, helps job seekers understand the steps they need to take to attain a position in their desired career.

A health system or hospital should be included, too, but it's not. Why? That's another column (or two, or three); however, it may be easy to pinpoint hospitals' weaknesses when looking at the four things consumers want that Sherpa brands deliver:

  • Guidance
  • Empowerment
  • Trust
  • Emotional rewards

The guidance, empowerment, and trust are all elements hospitals strive for and marketers try to communicate. Those roads are being well-traveled. But, that last detail—emotional rewards—is harder because it's not easy to define. What is the emotional reward a patient receives as a result of a hospital stay?

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