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Expert: Health care marketing is growing up as industry evolves

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As traditional community hospitals transition into regional centers through consolidation, the need to differentiate each facility in the eyes of patients is more pressing than ever, according to one expert.

Colin Lange, partner and CEO of Monaco Lange, said as consumers become more aware of branding and making more independent decisions not just based on geography, health care providers need to "rethink their traditional outreach."

Lange recently participated on a panel at the New Jersey Ad Club discussing the state of the health care industry that included hospitals and other providers.

"Health care is 'growing up,' for lack of a better word," Lange said. "For a long time, health care providers existed, and the need to differentiate and the need to advertise wasn't as strong … you go to the hospital that is local to you. In more recent years, like education, there's much more of a demand to differentiate."

The first step, Lange said, is to investigate the brand of the provider, and why someone cares about their providers and health care facilities. Large corporations, he said, have known the value of emotional connections to a brand for many years, but the health care industry is just starting to adopt this tactic.

Lange pointed to Summit Medical Group as an example of how a large health care system can establish a brand throughout multiple facilities. "From the time you set foot in whatever facility it is, all the way through from receptionist to doctor, they've done a very good job that their brand, and emotional guide, is very, very consistent," he said of the largest physician group in the state.

As reimbursement gets tied more closely to patient satisfaction, Lange said, that kind of consistency is important. Summit also does a good job of creating content that gets in front of their patients often, through newsletters and social media, that explains to patients the breadth and depth of their services.

Lange added that, while there is a lot of change happening in health care — organizationally, technologically, financially — the providers able to best connect with patients are the ones who will "find opportunity in chaos."

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