Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the summer 2013 issue of Marketing Health Services. To read the full article, go to MarketingPower.com/mhs.
Academic medical centers present one of the greatest marketing challenges in health care.
While community hospitals concentrate on caring for local residents, academic medical centers have multiple missions. These include offering the most advanced, comprehensive clinical care available; serving as a major referral center and safety net for the community; training tomorrow’s health care professionals and advancing medicine through research.
Those multiple missions can sometimes conflict, but NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital’s David Feinberg is up to the task, melding each component into a synergistic, interwoven marketing strategy.
An executive at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital since 1997 and its current vice president and CMO, Feinberg leads the marketing team for the nation’s biggest hospital. Marketing Health Services recently spoke with Feinberg to learn about how his organization is differentiating its services, balancing the multiple needs of an academic medical center, serving one of the country’s most diverse populations and continuing its breakthrough television advertising campaign that many experts call one of the best.
Q: As academic medical centers increasingly compete with community hospitals, how does NewYork-Presbyterian keep its edge and market share, and differentiate its services?
A: The key to success for any organization is to be true to itself and what it does best. While we serve proudly as the community hospital for our immediate neighborhood, in the larger metro area, that translates into more advanced, difficult medicine. This complements the role of community hospitals that can refer those more complex cases to us. Our relationships with these hospitals are strong and vital to the health of the patients whose care is entrusted to each of our respective organizations.
Q: What are the greatest challenges in marketing an academic medical center? Do you see those changing as a result of health care reform?
A: With all the dramatic changes occurring in the health care marketplace, it’s easy to lose focus and get distracted. At the end of the day, it’s about what we do for patients and why we are the right choice for their care. The challenge is to not let all of the distractions take you away from what is central—the care of the patient and the family. What we do at academic medical centers is inherently complicated and thus more expensive. Is that difference justifiable? Can we make the case to ourselves and the public that this extra expense is an investment? Money well spent? Are the payers getting value for their customers over the long term? We cannot rest on our laurels and must present convincing reasons for why academic medical centers are so critical to today’s medicine and tomorrow’s discoveries.
Q: How do you balance the marketing needs of the teaching, research and clinical components of an academic medical center?
A: They are inter-related, completely complementary and should all work synergistically. We don’t see it as a zero-sum game allocating certain resources to one and less or more to the others. We see them working together always. That means when we talk about who we are, we speak to teaching, research and patient care as one interwoven concept rather than three separate entities. For example, our patient portal, myNYP, serves all three missions. It helps improve our patients’ health, increases access and is a teaching and research tool for clinicians, patients and families—a concept that supports all three objectives. Our website does that as well. It’s comprehensive and offers people information critical to their care, whether the viewer is a current patient or someone considering coming here for care.