It is often said that a brand is simply a promise; a great brand is a promise kept. So in the healthcare industry, who is the keeper of that promise? And how do we guarantee that our promise is preserved and emulated throughout our provider organizations?
I venture to say the onus lies with a strong partnership among the marketing and communications departments, the medical group and the clinical team, working hand-in-hand to ensure our words and our actions are aligned.
Traditional healthcare followed a simple formula: medical problem + safe, high-quality care = a good outcome and a good experience.
But consumer expectations have turned this formula on its head; a good outcome is no longer synonymous with a good experience. In addition to the safe, high-quality care they've come to expect, savvy healthcare consumers want easy access, availability, convenience and choice at an affordable cost—a high standard they've honed through interactions with other industries.
The new formula no longer begins when a person walks through our doors for care, either. We realize that although all patients are consumers, not all consumers are patients—yet. Up to 90% of healthcare website visitors report using hospital or provider rankings to help them choose a provider.
We would be wise to borrow a page or two from other industries' playbooks, where there is a relentless focus on keeping the brand promise and delivering a fantastic experience for every consumer for each and every engagement.
Now it's healthcare's turn to deliver a great brand experience to match our commitment to safe, high-quality healthcare. We should aspire to delight consumers throughout their care experience so people continue to trust and rely on us in their communities. This type of customer engagement requires an end-to-end health experience that measures up to the experiences consumers expect in other aspects of their lives.
Ascension is focusing on creating a consistently exceptional experience by building a personalized, compassionate relationship with each person we serve, and it starts with listening. We are implementing that by adopting one marketing/customer-relationship-management tool across all of our systems that creates regular individual touch points and opportunities for feedback. We have re-imagined our web experience for consumers by creating web entry points to enable similar functionality, metrics and data. We are also implementing online scheduling in all our markets so consumers have easier access to our physicians and sites of care.
And this work coincides with our national rebranding effort as each one of our sites of care transitions to adopting the Ascension name.
Before considering a unified name that would externally communicate our unified operational approach, our One Ascension journey, we conducted significant research and interviewed patients, providers, volunteers and healthcare leaders to better understand their shift in expectations. We learned that patients like knowing that their local health system is part of something larger than itself—since it's able to draw upon the trusted resources, talents and insights that a larger network can provide.
With that in mind, we launched an effort that has catalyzed our "one brand, one experience" approach across Ascension. We began in 2016 with two of our largest markets: Michigan and Wisconsin. Last year, we announced that six additional markets will adopt the Ascension name. We are in the last phase of the rebranding, which is making it clearer and easier for people to access the care they need and to navigate their health and well-being.
As Ascension considers our "one brand, one experience" goal, we challenge ourselves on how well we are upholding our brand promise by asking:
- How do we ensure that our brand promise to deliver personalized, compassionate care for all is consistently revealed in our 2,600 sites of care—in the outcome of care and overall experience?
- What can we do to provide convenient options to consumers before they enter our sites of care, and how can we measure that our promise is being kept?
- How do we continue to create a unified, integrated, national brand and hold ourselves responsible for daily living up to our brand promise?