As a marketing leader in healthcare you are likely dealing with unprecedented changes in your industry as well as within your organization as it manages those changes. How have your change management and branding activities synced up? Have your branding activities remained in alignment with new requirements and focus? Is it time to consider branding enhancements to better reflect where your organization is heading? Change management and branding are two important marketing tools that must work synergistically in order to navigate industry and organizational transformation.
Is there any other industry experiencing more change than healthcare? Changes include regulatory mandates (e.g., HIPPA, EHR, etc.), Affordable Care Act (ACA), and fundamental change in the way providers are compensated for the care provided (i.e. fee for service vs. value-based contracting model). As you guide your organization through these changes, you will most likely use one or more change models to address the following:
- Assess the need for change—that is confirm the current state of operations, identify the required future state of operations, and map out a path between the two.
- Ensure all stakeholders are aware of the need for change.
- Help stakeholders buy-in to the changes.
- Identify additional knowledge or skills needed by stakeholders to undertake new processes or procedures.
- Implement reinforcement activities to improve sustainability of changes.
- Determine metrics for ongoing evaluation.
By applying research, communication, training, coaching, and mentoring activities, you can begin to execute and track the changes. Research is a key activity both for the initial needs assessment as well as the ongoing evaluation of the program. Communication activities increase awareness, help to ensure buy-in, and provide additional knowledge about new processes and procedures. Training provides stakeholders with pertinent new knowledge and skills. Coaching and mentoring is critical for reinforcement and sustainability. Each of these activities require a well-designed plan that is reviewed by stakeholders affected, changed as appropriate for improved effectiveness and efficiency, and then carefully managed throughout implementation. An important phase of any change management plan is checking alignment of the overall plan with your branding activities and how branding activities may need to be altered for new processes and procedures.
Obviously, branding is not a one-time activity, but a series of actions to help ensure both internal and external stakeholders have consistent thoughts, feelings, opinions, and behaviors regarding your brand. Stakeholders interact with your brand every minute of every day. Even without change initiatives, you must manage communications and interactions with patients, providers, regulatory agencies, employees, and others on an ongoing basis. In addition to this, you must also manage and influence perceptions of your organization’s physical and digital facilities, ensuring stakeholders can access and interact with the organization in a positive manner. You most likely have evaluation systems in place to measure, track, and act upon the thousands of stakeholder interactions with your brand.
Then, factor in the increased complexity as you undertake significant process and procedure changes. Patients, providers, employees, and others may feel dissonance between what they felt your brand represented and new realities during a transition or after process changes are finalized. The task then becomes communicating what is happening, what the short-term and long-term effects will be, and assuring stakeholders you have an overall plan, are carefully managing new activities, and controlling for unanticipated issues.
The alignment inquiry regarding branding activities and change management plans is an opportunity to ask questions about the brand and how it may be enhanced to better communicate the new state of operations, processes, and/or procedures after implementation of a major change initiative. Questions may include:
- Does your brand speak to improved security of patient data, better collaboration of care between providers, or other actions you are taking to improve the value of care from the patient’s point of view?
- Do providers and employees see continuity between the brand and the changes implemented?
- Does your brand attract new provider-contractors?
- Does your brand attract, unite, and engage employees?
By answering the questions above and others identified by your stakeholders in a needs assessment, you can determine whether your brand is good to go, could use a few tweaks, or needs a major review and possibly a full makeover.
The Ultimate Goal: Brand Loyalty
Strong brands develop loyalty by delivering value and building relationships. As the healthcare industry continues its transformation toward a patient-centric model, strong branding activities integrated with necessary change management planning and implementation will make the path easier to navigate. Program evaluation ensures key metrics are collected, analyzed, and acted upon for continuous improvement. In any industry subject to regulations such as healthcare, all branding and change management activities must be reviewed to ensure compliance with applicable rules and laws.
How do you manage change in your organization? Please share below.
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).