Here are the top 10 healthcare marketing stories of 2010, as selected by the award-winning staff at the WeeklyProbe.
10. Hospital adopts McDonald’s style dollar menu
In a nod to the growing prevalence of high-deductible health insurance, Wilhelm Hospital announced a new dollar menu for its healthcare services. “Right now there aren’t many services we can offer for a dollar – maybe band-aid application,” said hospital spokesperson John Cash. “But we need to meet the demands of the cost-conscious consumer. We’re looking into ‘frequent customer’ punch card for joint replacement surgery and new programs such as ‘Emergency Room Tuesdays’ as well,” adds Cash.
9. Consultant solves healthcare reform – future to bring “healing gnomes”
A healthcare consultant announced in November that after two months of in-depth research, quantum analysis and “various voodoo rituals,” he has uncovered what the impact of federal reform will be on the healthcare industry. Says Kent Koucou of Magic Eight Ball Consultants, Esq: “Among other changes, in two years care will be delivered by so-called ‘healing gnomes, and hospitals will be paid with gold bouillon by invisible creatures from another planet called ‘Quark Monkeys.’”
8. Research firm announces new award for hospitals with the most awards
In August, Pilingon and Associates announced a new national award for hospitals who garner the most awards and highest rankings. Company CEO Randy Redundan said the top three hospitals will win the coveted “Most Bestest Of Everyone Times Infinity Award.”
7. New patient feedback site, “The Halotosis Hub,” launched.
In June, patients began ranking the breath of their caregivers on the new “Halotosis Hub” website. Doctors’ breath can be rated on a scale of 1 to 4 (1 being ‘Cloud of Death’ and 4 being ‘Wintery Freshness’), and patients can provide feedback, like this comment from BroomHilda67 “Dr. Meyer’s breath was like what I imagine nuclear fallout to be like, tinged with a hint of cinnamon.”
6. Health system develops “plainspeak” brand identity system
To help combat patient confusion with such common medical terms as “gastroenterology,” “vascular” and “emergent,” Straight Health System announced a new policy to identify key facilities and departments in a more straightforward way. For example, the system’s new imaging center is called “The Using Radiation and Other Forms of Molecular Waves to See the Inside of Your Body Center,” The hospital’s emergency department has been renamed “The Only Come Here When You’re Bleeding Out an Orifice or Missing a Limb Room,” and the community clinic is dubbed “The Clinic for Nasty Rashes You Don’t Want Your Neighbor to Know About.”
5. Urgent care promotes “Smile-O-Meter” that gauges staff friendliness
Following the trend of promoting emergency room wait times on the Internet, SoFast Urgent Care announced in October that they would be publishing a “Smile-O-Meter” indicating the relative mood of their staff. “If people are going to wait a ridiculous amount of time for urgent care, we feel it’s imperative we also inform them in advance about how friendly or cranky the doctor or nurse is likely to be, once it’s their turn to be seen,” said Melanie Colly, office manager for the SoFast location in Fresno. “It’s also a great way for us to control patient inflow. Let’s be honest, no one wants to get checked for strep throat when Marge at reception hasn’t had her coffee yet.”
4. Legislator proposes law forbidding hospital employees from talking to their neighbors
A state legislator from Tennessee has submitted a bill that would prevent hospital employees from talking about their organizations to friends and neighbors. “Why ban hospital advertising, when research shows consumers seek information first from their friends and family?” says state senator Richard Large. “Consumers should make healthcare decisions in a vacuum – that’s the American way.”
3. Hospital launches poor health habits campaign to help drive growth
To combat dropping inpatient volumes St. Marmaduke Hospital, initiated a campaign to create more sick people. In February, the organization launched the “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” campaign using outdoor, television and print advertising to promote poor health habits. In one ad, a middle-aged man with cigarette in mouth and bottle of whiskey in hand is shown eyeing a triple cheeseburger with double side of fries. The headline reads “Go ahead, you only live once,” followed by the tagline “We’re here when you need us – St. Marmaduke Hospital.”
2. New healthcare microblogging service ‘TootSuite’ to compete with Twitter for GI related conversations
In hopes of leveraging the volume of hot air in the social media healthcare space, gutsy intestinal marketing technology company XYZPDQ announced a new social network called ‘TootSuite.’ “TootSuite will enable GI patients get consistently bigger and more regular downloads from their GI specialists”. said company spokesperson Billy Bowel. “The application provides an easy solution to the current backup of gastroenterological information patients so desperately need.
1. Doctor launches pre-emptive lawsuit against patients for the possibility of posting negative comments
To combat the potential posting of negative comments at online sites like Yelp, Dr. Noah Clue, a family practitioner from Albany, in November brought a class-action lawsuit against all his future and potential patients. “I know how bad my care really is, and I can be a complete asshat when I want to be, so these comments are almost inevitable,” said Dr. Clue. “This lawsuit will help ensure my patients can’t spread the word as easily.”