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7 Deadly Words of Healthcare Marketing

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, May 29, 2013

Getting every employee to "live the mission" or "live the brand" is a frequent theme in patient experience strategies. Szablowski believes what is working at Dignity is something they started at least four years ago.

"We'd get letters from patients, and we'd take one of those letters once a month, invite that patient and their family, the caregivers, and the leadership from the hospital and have that person read the letter in from of everyone," he says.

The emotional connection was so powerful that Szablowski says Dignity is now working on videotaping the patients reading the letters and storing them in a video library to use for motivational purposes before leadership meetings.      

"Each story is really different. Some are about little things, big things. There is an unbelievable range," he says. "The value of it is people come in and talk about what led up to the [hospital visit], the care, and afterwards. You recognize that it's the totality of the experience. All those little things matter." At the end of the letter reading, everyone who was involved in the patient's care gets a certificate of appreciation from the CEO.

"It's the fundamental articulation of the brand, and the brand isn't the logo or the architecture. It's a living thing and everyone plays a role in it," he says.       

So far, Szablowski says he feels like Dignity has done a good job focusing its internal communication to raise employee engagement. It's measured by the participation rate of Dignity's annual employee survey, which Szablowski says has been between 80%–90% for the last five years.             

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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