Honesty is the best policy

Transparency is one of the hottest trends in healthcare right now. At Neptune Hospital, they’ve fully embraced transparency with a new advertising campaign titled “We’re really trying.” (See sample ad after story.) The 330-bed hospital has suffered from more than two decades of poor clinical care, awful customer service and horrible mismanagement. In 2002, an orthopedic surgeon performed knee joint replacement surgery on a patient’s shoulder. (The same error was repeated in 2004 and again in 2005 before the surgeon retired.) In 2006, the hospital opened a $20 million medical spa called “Facetastic” on land behind the hospital. Unfortunately, the land covered a deteriorating portion of the city’s sewer system, and the facility was closed and condemned one year later. The system constantly ranks in the lower percentiles of quality, safety and customer service in national studies. Obviously, it was time for a change.

“We heard about this idea of ‘transparency’ at a national conference, and we liked the idea of airing all of our dirty laundry,” said vice president of marketing Tom Teynah. “Clearly, trying to fix all of this was out of the question. But we thought, hey, let’s go with this honesty thing.”

The hospital says it’s too early to report overall results from the campaign, but anecdotal evidence is already piling up.

“I spoke with my 65-year-old neighbor the other day, right after she waited more than 2 hours to see her primary care physician,” said Teynah. “Boy, was she pissed. She said she wished she seen the advertising earlier, so clearly it’s making an impact on people.”

Sample campaign ad: “CEO/Pricks”