Some marketers in the healthcare industry have struggled to connect with distracted consumers amid critical workforce shortages, domestic crises and the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the winners of Modern Healthcare's 2022 Healthcare Marketing Impact Awards have turned to advertising strategies aimed at resonating with their audiences, even when the subject matter is heavy.
Julie Shapiro, editor-in-chief of “The Well by Northwell,” said New Hyde Park, New York-headquartered Northwell Health found through an audience study that people were frustrated with the health information they were finding online, much of which she characterized as unhelpful, untrue or even scary.
“As New York’s largest health system, we knew we could help solve this problem,” Shapiro said.
Northwell Health contracted with Washington, D.C.-based Revmade to create The Well, a brand publication delivering a range of content, such as documentary video series, advice columns and first-person essays. The campaign, which won gold and bronze prizes in the Marketing Impact Awards, included hyper-targeted, per-piece distribution plans, with organic performance amplified through paid efforts.
The health system reported a 99% year-over-year increase in newsletter subscribers, with the brand featured on several media outlets such as Apple News, Thrive Global, Today.com and Newsday. It also says it found an increased likelihood of consumers seeking care at Northwell after visiting The Well.
“We launched The Well as a way to support the people making the healthcare decisions in the family by providing information they can trust ... talking to them in a manner that is personable and easily understood, and making sure they feel ‘seen,’ ” Shapiro said.
“We do it with empathy always, and humor when we can, which allows our audience to let their guard down and feel understood and cared for. We want to be their trusted partner for all things health and wellness,” she said.
New York City-based Mount Sinai Health System sought to set its care apart by presenting a bold view of what it takes to overcome the most complex medical problems. The healthcare organization partnered with SS+K, an agency based in New York City, to launch the “We Find a Way” campaign.
SS+K Creative Director Margie Chidley said the agency's goal was to look beyond the services the health system provided during the height of the pandemic in New York City.
“When we started working with them, Mount Sinai was coming out of COVID-19,” she said. “They had been right in the middle of it.”
“The staff had been through a lot,” she continued. “When we talked to them, every single person had a story ... They were starting to come out of that, and the campaign aimed to portray Mount Sinai in a different light.”
For its silver-winning print campaign, Mount Sinai focused on the world’s first tracheal transplant and the launch of the new Mount Sinai Tisch Cancer Center. Pulitzer Prize-finalist photojournalist Ashley Gilbertson captured the images, which ran on full pages in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal and local outlets.
According to Chidley, elective appointment bookings in key critical disciplines rose after the launch of the campaign, which also included bronze-winning video advertisements.
“It was inspiring to see how the message cut through that noise,” Chidley said, referring to other demands on patients' attention
VNS Health, also based in New York City, wanted to promote positive associations with its services through a rebrand in 2022. It worked with three different agencies—Seiden Advertising and the MMI Agency in New York City, and ExpandTheRoom in Greenville, South Carolina—to overhaul its presentation, including social channels, advertising, collateral, signage and uniforms.
Although the organization’s name had changed from The Visiting Nurse Service of New York, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Development Catherine Callaway said its central focus remained consistent: delivering quality home- and community-based care. The company intended to increase familiarity with the new brand, while maintaining its reputation among those already familiar with its former identity and ensuring consistency throughout its public-facing materials.
The rebrand also meant streamlining VNS Health’s website, winner of a silver prize in the Marketing Impact Awards, from more than 600 web pages to under 150. Where appropriate, Callaway said the organization referenced its new tagline: “The future of care. The comfort of home.” The company says it has seen a 25% increase in traffic to its new website when compared with last year.
“For 130 years, we’ve been a trusted health resource for New Yorkers,” Callaway said. “We’ve innovated, grown and expanded in myriad ways over that time.”
“We want people to think of us as not just a healthcare provider, but as their neighbor,” she continued.
In Arkansas, the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology’s “Providing Arkansas Patients with Access to Quality Anesthesia Care” initiative focused on spreading awareness about the role certified registered nurse anesthetists play in medicine.
The integrated campaign, which won a gold prize, used videos and social media posts, along with digital campaigns, op-eds and news releases, to push for the passage of HB 1198, state legislation removing supervision requirements for nurse anesthetists.
AANA teamed up with other organizations, including the Arkansas Association of Nurse Anesthetists and the state chapter of AARP, to boost the messaging.
“Our campaign was designed to push certain legislation across the finish line,” said Patricia Flesher, director of public relations and communications for AANA and its lobbyists. “We focused on the patient and how certified registered nurse anesthetists really impact healthcare delivery.”
The efforts were successful: HB 1198 was signed into law. Brenda Richardson is a freelance award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in Forbes, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and other media outlets.