The Quality Question

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders News , September 5, 2007

This past week I spent some time judging campaign submissions for the HealthLeaders Media Marketing Awards. I was excited to see what hospitals all over the country are doing to promote their organizations in today's competitive marketplace. I was especially interested in campaigns positioning hospitals on quality.

It's a difficult tactic to execute--not only is it complex, but every other hospital in your market is trying to do it, too. There are pitfalls to promoting quality rankings and awards.

Last week I linked to a story about hospitals in one Florida market that are duking it out in the press over quality ratings. Two local hospitals boasted about their HealthGrades rankings in separate billboards. And their critics (i.e. competitors) pointed out that they paid the organization $150,000 for the right to do so.

Proceed with caution when promoting your hospital based on awards and rankings, says Anthony Cirillo, president of Fast Forward Strategic Planning and Marketing Consulting. "Any hospital using these as part of their marketing mix can have it come back to bite them." He points out that data used to ascertain ranking is old as soon as it's published and that rankings can unexpectedly rise and fall.

Today you could be bragging about your ranking. Tomorrow you could be eating crow.

Gienna Shaw is an editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at

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