St. Rita’s Medical Center Reinvents Brand
St. Rita’s Medical Center, Lima, Ohio
The key to success is often nothing more than simply believing it can be
done. Experts used to claim that running a mile in under four minutes
was impossible. Year after year, runners achieved time that were close, but
never broke the barrier – and it seemed like maybe the experts were right.
Then came Roger Bannister, who in 1954 ran one mile in 3:59.4, and then
suddenly it seemed like everybody could run a sub 4 miles (his record lasted
only 46 days!).
This is also what happens when HealthStream Research’s clients set goals
based on survey research: Find out where you are, set goals to improve, then
break the records over and over again. St. Rita’s Medical Center set out to
do what some might have said was impossible—reinvent the hospital’s image
into a center of big city excellence. Two years after embarking on this
challenge, they have taken the old assumptions and smashed them with
St. Rita’s Medical Center was experiencing great success and their survey
results from HealthStream Research were quite impressive in 2001.
However, they experienced a drop in scores across the board in 2002:
Calvin Lindo took on the position of Director of Planning and Marketing in 2002.
“Looking at the decline in scores, we were surprised and concerned. Our admissions
and outpatient visits increased from 2001 levels—but our image was taking a hit,” said
Mr. Lindo. So, Calvin Lindo asked the following questions:
- Had people changed their perceptions about St. Rita’s in 2002?
- What is our brand message & slogan?
- Is it applied consistently?
- Is our use of the media effective?
- Was our spending a key factor?
Armed with the results and action plans from HealthStream Research’s consumer study, he sought
answers to these questions. Through this process, St. Rita’s found that people’s perceptions had not
changed. For perceptions of the quality of care and staff, St. Rita’s continued to score significantly higher
than all of their competitors
“We are a steady, repeat client of HealthStream Research. We really value their national benchmarking
and the comparisons we get to our competitors. They are consistent over time, and this allows us to
accurately track public perceptions of our hospital,” said Jim Reber, President and CEO.
As part of HealthStream Research’s Action Blueprint, the following recommendations were made to St.
Rita’s Medical Center for their marketing efforts:
1. Address the decline in top of the mind awareness through increased direct-mail, newspaper,
television, and radio campaigns targeted to both the senior citizen market and the 35-44 year old
2. Marketing should focus on the following highest-rated areas of St. Rita’s excellence:
• Having the best doctors and nurses
• Most responsive to community needs
• Most state-of-the-art equipment
• Most caring and friendly staff
• Most trusted
So what was their next step?
“We found that we had been unclear about our brand slogan. There had been 5 different slogans in 5
years, and sometimes multiple slogans were used in the same year. Also, our use of media was not very
effective. We had a heavy reliance on TV, but almost no use of radio. Our print ads looked ‘old’, and
several service lines lacked marketing plans,” said Mr. Lindo.
To solve these problems and to reinvent their brand, St. Rita set the following as the key objectives:
New brand slogan & use consistently
- Keep slogan for at least 5 – 6 years
- Create new commercials & ads
- Change use of media mix (use more radio)
- Use campaign approach to ad placement:
o TV and print ads together
o TV and print and radio ads together
They began by sending RFP’s to three ad agencies to help develop a new and fresh brand slogan. They
chose their ad agency in May 2002 and created a full marketing campaign around their new slogan:
For the radio campaign, St. Rita’s chose to focus on country music stations. Where it was possible,
they used their own staff in radio and print ads. When HealthStream Research performed a Brand
Equity survey again in 2003, they were able to see the fruits of their labor:
Not only did they increase their brand equity, but the increased scores also led to improved perceptions of
the quality of care and the quality of the staff:
- Best doctors from 36% to 45%
- Best nurses from 33% to 41%
- Most caring and friendly staff from 34% to 40%
- Most medical technology from 47% to 51%
- Most responsive to community from 38% to 43%
- Most trusted from 37% to 45%
- Local city competitor best score fell to 17%
“The best part? We actually spent $22,100 less in advertising to get these results,” said Calvin Lindo
Marketing may get people in, but it is quality care that matters most. The following were part of
HealthStream Research’s Action Blueprint recommendations:
1. Increase patient satisfaction tracking research
2. Use the results of this research to identify strategies that will better meet the needs of patients
3. Share the results of research with all staff
“We instituted an increased focus on staff loyalty and patient care. We posted monthly results on each
floor, began scripting programs for our staff, and started a 30-minute guarantee for the emergency room.
We also started offering nursing scholarships for those that made a two-year commitment. Consequently,
we have no shortage of nurses, and our patients are happy and satisfied,” said Mark Skaja, Vice President
of Mission Services.
Their quality initiative covered nine areas:
1) Adopted reader friendly strategic pillars:
• Be the #1 hospital in providing community benefit/mission
• Be the best place for patients
• Be the best place for physicians to practice
• Be the best place to work,
• Be a well run organization
2) Distribute service recovery scripting for employees
3) Post monthly results on the patient units
4) Share compliments from patients
5) 48 hour complaint turnaround
6) Conduct manager rounds—Managers go room to room and talk with patients
7) Conduct discharge follow up telephone calls
8) Initiated a Legends Program to recognize employees with superlative service—Each year,
employees nominate colleagues. The leadership reviews the nominees, and winners receive a
plaque and a weekend trip.
9) Made changes in Guest Services and at the Information Desk—Replaced volunteers with paid (and
fully trained) staff.
“Part of replacing volunteers with paid staff was our increased focus on consistent customer service. Our
staff was thoroughly trained across the board. We used Mystery Shoppers to check our progress, and we
discovered that the training was very effective,” said Mark Skaja. “HealthStream Research was an
incredible resource in helping us identify the critical areas of customer service and market awareness.
Their research and recommendations provided a real roadmap to success.”
“The key to our success was our team approach,” said Jim Reber, President and CEO. “There was no
single component among our nine initiatives that led to the final outcome. We asked for simultaneous
execution of these initiatives, and our employees delivered. We improved the service performance of every
employee. By making our initiatives simple and reader-friendly, our staff found the hospital vision clarified
by its conciseness.”
While hospitals in smaller cities (Lima, Ohio has approximately 40,000 residents) have many unique issues
to face, some issues are the same for any hospital. By implementing a consistent, effective, and long-term
marketing plan, you can dramatically increase your brand equity. With increased brand equity and a focus
on recruiting and retaining your best and brightest, you can see your bottom line improve. As St. Rita’s
proved, just being successful isn’t enough—success is a journey, not a destination.