Beyond the Smiling Billboard

Beyond the Smiling Billboard

Health care providers should take better care of their marketing, Chris Bevolo says.

Chris Bevolo—whose Minneapolis marketing agency, Interval, works primarily for hospitals and clinics—has published a new book, Joe Public Doesn’t Care About Your Hospital, that lobs a few bombs into those quiet zones. According to Bevolo, whose client list includes North Memorial Medical Center and Virginia’s Inova Health System, the vast majority of hospitals and clinics just don’t think good marketing is important. Bland billboards with stock-art photos of smiling people or shiny new high-tech gizmos remain standard operating procedure.  

So why should Joe Public care about this? Bevolo admits that his book’s target is a fairly small niche. But he does provide a sharp-elbowed, cogent, and often amusing read on the health care market—a world we all live in, one way or another.

 Providers that continue a standard approach may soon find themselves facing hospice care, Bevolo says. Patients are digging up information and taking advantage of more treatment options, whether that means MinuteClinic or Mayo. The increasing prevalence of high-deductible plans and consumer-directed health coverage are forcing health “customers” to be even more discerning. And even if the courts trim back health care reform, insurers are likely to fight against the traditional and spendy fee-for-service model. In short, providers are going to need to compete more—and become better marketers.

Bevolo believes most health care marketers get it. Physicians and the C-suite? Not so much. His book, Bevolo says, is something that those marketers “can accidentally set on the physician’s desk or in their boss’s office.”

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