Beyond robots and technology: Telling your health system’s innovation brand story

blurry chemical background

A look at what Core’s market research study reveals

Innovation. In healthcare, it’s a word that often sparks images of sterile research labs, beakers, microscopes and machines. But, today’s healthcare consumer defines innovation in a different way.

That’s what we learned as part of Core Health’s inaugural research study, “Perspectives in Health and Healthcare.” This research was designed to identify key drivers of healthcare choice so our clients – healthcare marketers – could leverage this information when branding and positioning their health systems.

The study was conducted in partnership with Cheryl Stone & Associates as a nationwide, online panel survey from Oct. 25, to Nov. 5, 2018. A total of 1,501 interviews were completed with a confidence level of 95%. Quotas were used to ensure replication of the U.S. population.

Innovation was one of six drivers of healthcare choice consumers were asked to evaluate as part of our research study. Other drivers included performance and results; caring and compassion; a care experience personalized to meet needs and preferences; a focus on wellness and prevention; and convenience.

Surprisingly, innovation was the category least likely to drive consumer choice. Even still, positioning your health system as the innovator in your market can be a winning strategy.

This is particularly true if:

  • Your health system is an academic medical center
  • Your health system clearly has access to the latest technology and most advanced procedures
  • Competitors can’t compete with the innovative offerings your health system can claim

Which indicators of innovation does today’s healthcare consumer value most?

Latest technology and advanced procedures speak most to consumers driven by innovation

When asked, “What is important in showing you that a health system is innovative?” 50% of respondents indicated that, “The health system has the latest technology and advanced procedures” is “very important.”

Innovation Indicators

Very Important Somewhat Important
The health system has the latest technology and advanced procedures
They offer unique services that no other health systems do not offer
The health system conducts medical research
The health system includes teaching hospital(s), training residents and interns, nursing students, and students in other healthcare professions

“Unique” services are also valued by consumers driven by innovation

Twenty-nine percent of the audience rated “They offer unique services that other health systems do not offer” as a “very important” indicator of a health system’s innovation. While the survey didn’t specifically define “unique,” open-ended comments suggested that the availability of treatment options helps showcase a health system’s focus on innovation. Respondents referenced openness to non-western or alternative medicine, holistic treatment and non-surgical options could be formidable indicators of a health system’s innovation.

Consumers aren’t “wowed” by your academic medical center affiliation

Health systems that have an academic medical center affiliation have a tendency to position themselves as innovators, and rightfully so. Academic medical centers have the resources and the infrastructure devoted to advancing medicine. But, our research reveals that these messages don’t necessarily play well with consumers. When asked, “What is important in showing you that a health system is innovative?” conducting medical research and offering teaching hospitals were the least likely categories to resonate with consumers.

If your health system is uniquely positioned as the innovator in your market, this research should provide you with some important insights to help drive consumer interest. Thinking beyond teaching hospitals, sterile research labs and published studies will help your health system better connect with your target market.

You can download complete research study here.


Stephanie Burton, APR is the Director of Healthcare Marketing at Core Health.

connect with us

Subscribe to stay in touch and learn about our latest insights into healthcare marketing.