Columbia Memorial Health: How Storytelling Changes Perceptions and Engages Patients

March 30, 2016

// By Mark Shipley //

Mark-Shipley-Smith-and-JonesEvery great brand has a story to tell; one that evokes emotion, promises honesty and inspires loyalty. A compelling brand narrative is a powerful tool. It can bring color to a seemingly colorless organization, but it can also accomplish more than that. An emotional, honest brand story can change the perception of a hospital or health care organization, eliciting consumer engagement, employee alignment, and a unique competitive position. It can set a hospital brand apart from its competitors, while bringing the community closer together; it can drive up patient volume, while driving down poor patient experiences. There’s no limit to what a great story can achieve, especially for a health care brand.

Columbia Memorial HealthColumbia Memorial Health (CMH), a 200-bed hospital in New York’s Hudson Valley, is experiencing this firsthand. In the first six months since its new brand launch, this hospital-based network witnessed the largest increase in outpatient revenue in the organization’s history and a shift in the way the staff viewed themselves as brand advocates. (SHCM first introduced you to CMH’s launch of its rebranding efforts in the May 2015 issue.)

More than a year has flown by since the new brand was unveiled, and CMH is still gaining momentum from it. With new brand standards and guidelines to follow, it has successfully integrated storytelling into its other service line campaigns, such as Women’s Health and Bone and Joint, as a way to introduce the physicians to the community. Employees continue to share positive messages throughout social media channels and inside the clinical facilities. Website traffic is steadily growing, too, with sleek and simple digital ads drawing thousands of clicks from engaged users.

Although the story has a happy ending, it starts out like many others do: with a problem. The center of health care in the area for more than 100 years, Columbia Memorial Health was losing patients to large, regional competitors to its north and south, including big-name New York City hospitals. Additionally, it had a less-than-ideal reputation for care, with residents regularly traveling up to two hours away to other physicians and care centers. Things weren’t looking good, until the hospital found a compelling way to share its story through digital marketing channels.

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