PR essential to health marketing, book by healthcare vets claims

WASHINGTON, DC: At a time when health systems and hospitals are facing more intense competition for customers than ever before, a new book claims that PR has become perhaps the most pivotal part of the marketing equation.

WASHINGTON, DC: At a time when health systems and hospitals are facing more intense competition for customers than ever before, a new book claims that PR has become perhaps the most pivotal part of the marketing equation.

WASHINGTON, DC: At a time when health systems and hospitals are

facing more intense competition for customers than ever before, a new

book claims that PR has become perhaps the most pivotal part of the

marketing equation.



Branding Health Services: Defining Yourself in the Marketplace (Aspen

Publishers), co-edited by well-respected healthcare PR veterans Nancy

Hicks and Gil Bashe, takes a critical look at the way PR and marketing

have increasingly become used as ’positioning tools’ by healthcare

systems and hospitals.



Hicks, senior counselor and director of the US healthcare provider

practice in Hill & Knowlton’s DC office, sees an accelerating trend

toward consumerism in healthcare services. Employers, she explained,

have a choice regarding the managed care packages offered to their

employees. The more prestigious the brand they offer, the more likely it

is that their employees will be satisfied with their care choices.



While individual hospitals and health systems find themselves placing

greater emphasis on their overall image (rather than stressing specialty

care areas), consolidations during the last five years have forced many

to completely revamp their brand image. Enter PR, which has become the

first option for establishing new internal and external identities while

at the same time reinforcing existing strengths.



Of course, this is somewhat of an oversimplification. A chapter written

by Tony Swartz Lloyd, special counsel to corporate communications for

the Boston-based CareGroup, uses the merger between Beth Israel and

Deaconess, two teaching hospitals affiliated with Harvard Medical

School, as a case study of the way PR comes into play during a merger

scenario. The book also contains a chapter on the communications

challenges posed by Aetna absorbing several other companies.



Bashe, formerly worldwide director of H&K’s health and pharmaceutical

practice, is now CEO of Health!Quest Global Communications Partners.



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