Hospital Leapfrogs Competitor’s Robotic Surgery Technology, Advertising Campaigns Leverage the Differentiation and Drive Dramatic Growth

May 6, 2015

Advertising Worth Noting

By Peter Hochstein

Peter Hochstein

This tale begins in 2008, when the people running things at Covenant HealthCare, today a 643-bed multiple facility institution with campuses in and around Saginaw, Michigan, began hearing rumors about robots.

Well, not just any robots. These were da Vinci Surgical System robots, those high-tech devices increasingly used in minimally invasive surgery. A new high-definition da Vinci system was about to be released, and word was getting around that one of Covenant’s two regional rivals, St. Mary’s of Michigan Medical Center, was not going to upgrade. St. Mary’s, at the time, was the only hospital in the region that offered robotic surgery.

Before this story goes any further, you’ll probably want to know how Covenant become aware of rival St. Mary’s internal purchasing decisions.

That was easy. Larry Daly, Director of Planning and Business Development at Covenant HealthCare, says da Vinci salesmen, who paid sales calls to both hospitals, tended to be rather chatty. And some physicians doing robotic surgery at St. Mary’s also had privileges at Covenant. They also were part of the chatter. And so the word got out.

“It was like a window of opportunity for us,” Daly says of the market intelligence. The opportunity was to “own the robotic surgery market in the region . . . Our strategy was to purchase the latest model and attract the surgeons to our program—and to have them help build surgical interest in robotics.”


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