Connecting the Tissue Between Health Care and Branding

Hospitals face a number of challenges in recruiting physicians. Smaller facilities and those in rural areas find it difficult to compete with high-tech hospitals in major cities. Some states, like Nevada, are burdened with high medical insurance costs. Lastly, and most surprisingly, the large number of specialties and sub-specialties means that the candidate pool for each position is surprisingly small.
How are hospitals standing out in the crowded marketplace? By branding.
You would think that branding would have no place in health care – the environment is too clinical, the stakes are too high, and the workplace is too busy. But hospitals have been using social media to become thought leaders and experts in their field, allowing them to polish their brand, attract new patients, and recruit top talent.
Consider Children’s Hospital in Dallas, where the public relations department live-tweeted a kidney transplant between a father and his three-year-old son. After the dramatic event, the hospital’s Twitter following jumped by almost 400%, twenty people had contacted the hospital to inquire about becoming organ donors, and dozens of media outlets conducted interviews with either the surgeons or the patients. This enormous response (from what is actually a rather routine procedure) raised the facility’s profile with both patients and physicians, who sought out what was now a brand that symbolized cutting-edge technology and heartwarming success stories. Since then, six other hospitals have live-tweeted surgical procedures, ranging from a hysterectomy to brain surgery.

Another great example is St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix. Its Facebook page features a health tip every day, and the organization allows anyone to post on the Wall. Whether it’s a patient thanking their nurse for great care or a staffer quickly responding to a bad ER experience, St. Joseph’s has created a brand around customer service and quick response time. It’s no wonder that the hospital has over 2,300 Facebook likes.
While Children’s and St. Joseph’s demonstrate pure branding, some hospitals are even using social media directly for recruitment. The famous Mayo Clinic, for example, has its own careers Twitter: @mayoclinicjobs. The organization has almost 1,900 followers and posts jobs openings at its Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota campuses throughout the day. Clearly, the HR department at the Mayo Clinic is aware of the 2008 New England Journal Medicine study that revealed that 71% of physicians searched for jobs online.
We’ve seen branding applied to consumer products, sports teams, and celebrities. Now the health care industry is using branding to connect with consumers and job applicants. These practices also help hospitals demystify their field and focus on their medical triumphs instead of the uncertainty and paperwork that many associate with medicine.
It should be clear by now that every industry can benefit from branding and recruitment through social media. Are you using social media to brand your company and recruit top talent?
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One response to “Connecting the Tissue Between Health Care and Branding

  1. I agree that a hospital’s brand must now be the great differentiator in attracting healthcare talent: What’s incredible is that the shortage of physicians and nurses speaks to the perceived value of the professions themselves. Once, these highly skilled professionals we’re de facto sage community leaders: Authority figures who were the professional ideal. The hospital was in part the stage that was defined by these “players.” Now, as the bloom is off the medical rose, a career in medicine is sometimes no more attractive than a webpreteneur, and so the hospital stage itself must do the alluring over the profession. As we know, differentiation is the name of any branding game (http://bit.ly/l7dEDa), and hospitals that play the our-state-of-the-art-is-better-than-their-state-of-the-art game will get lost in the noise. To win, like your Children’s in Dallas example, hospitals will have to elevate the conversation and yes, find deeper tissues to connect.

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