Realizing Vision Through Research: How Lawrence General Hospital Used Research to Help Elevate Its Brand
// By Jill McDonald Halsey, APR; Dan Dunlop; and Jeff Steblea //
“City of the Damned.” That’s the magazine headline that greeted Jill McDonald Halsey when she arrived as the new Chief Marketing & Communication Officer for Lawrence General Hospital in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The city of Lawrence had been dealing with a variety of challenges, including the pervading perception of a city in decline, with rising crime rates and underperforming schools in receivership by the state. Located in the city, Lawrence General serves one of the the poorest communities in the state, with a median annual household income under $30,000. By contrast, the city is bordered by more affluent North Shore suburbs with a greater number of commercially insured patients, many of whom wouldn’t think of obtaining their health care in Lawrence.
Meanwhile, the hospital itself was experiencing a lot of positive change. With a new CEO at the helm, Lawrence General had recently strengthened its clinical affiliations with both Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and The Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center, and had announced expansion plans—a multi-year master facility plan that included renovation, expansion, and modernization of the hospital’s campus, including a new surgical building, and completely renovated adult medical/surgical units.
Lawrence General knew it had a reputation issue, but needed to know more, including:
- What specific experiences and beliefs were keeping potential patients from using their local hospital?
- Were residents unaware of the recent changes and improvements made at the hospital?
- How much of what residents thought of the hospital was outdated?
- Was having the word “Lawrence” in its name having a negative impact on the hospital brand?
- What information and messages would change residents’ perceptions of the hospital?