How to tackle negative publicity and relaunch a hospital with a credible brand image
Branding for Business Advantage
The Company Sagar Hospitals is a multispecialty healthcare solutions provider located in the upscale, busy Jayanagar area of the Garden City, Bengaluru. The Hospital, a franchisee of Apollo Hospitals went by the name ‘Sagar Apollo Hospitals’ for a full decade. During which period, a second hospital was also launched. On the expiry of the franchise agreement 10 years later, the Management decided not to renew it. Instead, they ventured out on their own as ‘Sagar Hospitals.’
The Challenge Apollo, as a standalone brand was already present in Bengaluru. Once the franchise with Sagar expired, Apollo opened their branch in the vicinity of Sagar. To compound, Fortis Hospitals opened its doors in a nearby location, eating further into Sagarâ€™s market share. Sagar, without the brand equity laden Apollo tag, saw many patients - especially IT and premium ones - shifting their loyalties to Apollo and Fortis. Bengaluru, a city of branded corporate hospitals, was hardly going to pay attention to a lesser known hospital.
Adding to all this, Sagar measured very low on the ‘patient delight’ scale. The pluses: State-of-the-art facilities with the capacity to scale up substantially to deliver high-end services. Senior medical professionals willing to go the extra mile to reiterate Sagar’s capabilities.
The challenge was to position Sagar as a credible Corporate Hospital with the bandwidth to deliver effectively and consistently on patient expectations.
The Solution In June 2010, RBC Worldwide was retained by Sagar Hospitals to facilitate their launch and undertake a comprehensive image building, brand development exercise for them. RBC deemed it appropriate to deploy its proprietary tool BrandScan™ to identify the issues encumbering the hospital’s growth. The BrandScan™ threw light on a lot of critical issues. Employee morale was at an all-time low post the disalignment with Apollo. The attrition rate, especially of qualified doctors and key personnel, was very high. The HR department’s ineffective policies could do little to salvage the situation. The span of responsibility was also ill-defined, leading to disgruntlement at all levels. Customer / Patient engagement was another area that was left largely unattended. Due to which, many patients were running down Sagar in online / digital forums with caustic negative reporting.
RBC chalked out a 3 point program at minimal cost with the agenda to:
- Generate awareness about the Hospital and its state-of-the-art facilities through digital engagement - Create a positive buzz around it with credible patient endorsements - Create a conducive, educative and collaborative atmosphere for the staff
The 3 point program was designed to tackle the inefficiencies within the organization, and to initiate an internal cleanup, top-bottom restructuring before launching the Hospital. Training - Internal Training Sessions using our BrandWidth tool were undertaken extensively to enable caregivers to deliver healthcare services with warmth, kindness, respect and empathy. Doctors were also advised to adopt the â€˜inclusive approachâ€™ while dealing with patients and their families.
Social Media - Attracting IT professionals back into the Sagar fold ranked high on the agenda. RBC went about building a solid Social Media Platform integrated with Twitter for industry-level interaction. It was populated with innovative widgets, patient testimonials, virtual walk-throughs of the Hospital and an extensive picture galleryâ€ŚEasy access to Sagarâ€™s many services, facilities, doctors, specialists and a large patient base was the focal point. Customer Delight - The idea of a hi-end Presidental Suite was mooted. The Suite, meant for the A-listers of the City, would allow them to undergo all tests within its luxurious ambience. A senior level PR & Customer Service team with smart hostesses was put together and trained to approach heads of companies and invite them to personally experience the Presidential Suite. This complimentary exercise saw many of them taking time off to actually check into the Suite, avail themselves of the treadmill / stress tests, relax in the plush, temperaturecontrolled ambience, enjoy a sumptuous lunch and the attentive service. The positive buzz helped open the doors for a meaningful dialogue with the corporate world.
All the three initiatives were launched simultaneously with one common thread binding them together - the BrandTale ‘Ocean of Care.’ Sagar Hospitals, true to its name, made ‘care’ its driving force not only in patient-facing services but in internal areas too. This all pervasive effort reaped encouraging results within a very short span of time.
The Result Media utilization came down to just 8% of the overall budget. The image of the Hospital within the TGA, especially the IT sector, increased by about 65%. Empanelment with corporates went up by 33%, and saw a month on month increase. The topline jumped by 100% in just 5 months. Hospital occupancy level improved from 57% to 98.7%.
RBC demonstrated the effectiveness of innovative, customized solutions and the strength in internal branding. Employee morale and patient satisfaction levels have continued to rise consistently for Sagar Hospitals - a name to reckon with on Bengaluruâ€™s healthcare skyline today.
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