Monday, January 12, 2015

True transparency in hospital PR campaigns

GOMER blog, which modestly refers to itself as the earth's finest medical satire news site, provides the ultimate in hospital transparency in this recent post, Hospitals Unleash New, Brutally Honest Slogans.

Here are excerpts:

Forget the days of the compassionate and uplifting slogans like “A Passion for Healing,” “Because Your Life Matters,” or “Every Day, a New Discovery.” With record numbers of nurses and doctors burning out and hospitals busting at the seams with sicker and sicker patients, hospitals are waving their white flags and this is being reflected in new, brutally-honest slogans to deter patients from seeking care.

The first hospital to make the change is New York Medical Center, who earlier this month changed their decades-old slogan of “Advanced Medicine, Trusted Care” to “Death is Inevitable”.

Intentionally or not, the site then reflected the faddism that characterizes hospital advertising compaigns:

Other New York hospitals were quick to follow suit, calling the move “brilliant” and “revolutionary.”

But geographic diversity is evident:

In the Southeast, new hospital slogans are financially motivated. 

In the Midwest, slogans show a little more frustration.  

In the Southwest, hospitals have taken a different angle by trying to remain modest at best while focusing on flaws as a major deterrent to patient care.

And the body politic jumps on the bandwagon, just like in real life:

“This is an important moment in our country’s history,” said President Obama at the White House, with both Democrats and Republicans united in support behind him. “This is outside-the-box thinking at its finest.  What better way to decrease healthcare costs than by decreasing healthcare access and decreasing patient care across the board.”


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately it is not a joke, its all true.

e-Patient Dave said...

All true except the "brutally honest slogans" part!

One that could have some validity in some regions might be "Not that great, but easy to get to."

Where honesty would really transform might be in a major urban area: "Subpar, in a city with many options.":-)

e-Patient Dave said...

(Or even better, "subpar with violations, but hey, we're licensed.")

Unknown said...

Funny insight, Paul. As a hospital PR consultant, I'd like to suggest several more advertising (not "PR"!) tag lines that play along with these self-congratulatory marketing themes:

-Patient-Centered, Until You Try to Decipher Your Bill

-Rated #1 in Patient Safety By A Generic Awards Mill

-Our Staff Cares (About Stealing the Competing Hospital's Golden Goose Cardiac Doc)

-Tender Moments, Brought to You By the Bare-Minimum Legal Staffing Levels [accompanied by a photo of a baby's hand wrapped around an adult's finger]

(Also, note that PR is a significantly different management function than "advertising" which enables these self-congratulary slogans.)

e-Patient Dave said...

Ken, thanks for the term "awards mill"! I know what you mean - someone who cranks out awards, usually to highly visible people, solely to get those people to publicize the mill, right? But I've never heard the term and I don't see a definition online. Do you have one?

I think it's a really useful term for the public to know about.