Clinics That Own Hospitals vs Hospital-Centered Health System

Clinics That Own Hospitals vs Hospital-Centered Health System

For those involved with branding and marketing strategy in health systems, how do you see the distinction between repositioning as large, multi-specialty clinics that own hospitals vs hospital-centred health system? Maybe more importantly, how does your health system define (or redefine) itself going forward?

As everyone in this industry knows, the financial basis for health system profitability has been flipped on its head. Hospitals are increasingly being viewed by health systems as cost centers rather than revenue centers. Operation and clinical alignment is essential but not easy.

Bottom Line: The patient access and the money flow is set up to engage at the primary care clinic or speciality clinic level.

Hospitals have historically had to market their services and create patient-centered brands while combatting the reality that most people fear hospitals and don’t want to avoid them.

So why aren’t more health systems moving to reposition as clinic-based rather than hospital-based?

Clinic-based Repositioning for a Health System

Certainly, some health systems (Advocate Health and Banner Health to name just two) are beginning to do so. Putting doctors and physician-patient relationships as well as positive patient experience at the forefront of the health system brand is already being promoted by some of the larger and more progressive health systems, but behind the curtain, it’s still a hospital-based business model and mindset.

It’s hard to get your bearings when you are upside down but branding and marketing strategy can lead the way as a touchstone and roadmap for true organizational and operational change.

If you see the future of health systems as very large, multi-specialty, multi-location clinics that also operate hospitals rather than hospitals that own and operate clinics, you have to paint that picture clearly – not only for your patient audience but also for all of the clinical and administrative personnel employed in your system.

The Role of Marketing in Operational Change

True change requires real commitment, time, clarity and vision. Marketing and branding strategy help shape the vision for organizational change and make it clear and real to everyone who works in the system.

Usually, health system marketing departments work to convey and package the predetermined vision of organizational change for the consumption of its constituencies. Few give marketing a primary seat at the table for setting the vision.

You have to paint the picture for your employees and get them to buy-in to true behavioral change before you repackage the brand for general consumption in the marketplace. Equally important, marketing leaders in health systems can help crystalize the vision for the C-suite so that everyone can see and buy into the vision. Operational work comes after vision work and that’s where marketing deserves a seat at the table in this kind of organizational change.

If you work for a health system that you believe is already at the forefront of movement toward positioning and operating as large clinics that own hospitals vs hospital-centered health system, contact Lonnie at 800-924-5447 or email I’d like to interview you and feature you in a future article and podcast on this topic.