Keeping Score: How One Medical Center’s Sponsorship of a Sports Team Scored a Touchdown with Its Population Health Efforts

May 26, 2017

// By Lisa D. Ellis //

Some of the latest headlines from top academic medical centers today seem more fitting for ESPN than for a health care brand. This is thanks to the fact that a growing number of organizations are signing increasingly complex and integrated agreements with NFL, MLB, and NBA teams. Just these past few months, landmark partnerships have been announced at Henry Ford Health (Detroit Pistons), Emory (Atlanta Hawks), Baylor, Scott & White (Dallas Cowboys), and more arrangements like these are in the pipeline.

Yet in a world where marketing budgets are leaner than ever and ROI is under increasing scrutiny, this raises the question of how major medical centers and networks can justify the major marketing investments spent to align with these powerful sports teams.

The Convergence of Health Care and Sports

Jeff Sofka, founder and principal at Bendigo

Jeff Sofka, founder and principal at Bendigo

The answer is that working with sports teams can really pay off in spades if the relationship is developed correctly, according to Jeff Sofka, a marketing specialist whose agency Bendigo specializes in the “convergence of health care and sports”—with some pretty impressive scores.

Sofka explains that he has served as a senior marketing leader for both the National Football League and he has also supported marketing efforts at Hackensack University Medical Center, now part of Hackensack Meridian Health. His experiences working in both sectors have provided him with a firsthand understanding of how sports and health care can come together around common ground to ultimately benefit all parties involved.

In fact, Sofka recently had the chance to put the intersection between health care and sports teams to work for Hackensack Meridian Health to increase the health network’s commitment to furthering population health locally.


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