In healthcare marketing, we have to balance the accuracy of clinical terms with the need to use language our health audiences – most of whom try to spend as little time in a hospital as possible – will understand. We also want to use words that evoke positive associations. The Council of Accountable Physician Practices(CAPP) conducted focus groups around the country to test commonly used language surrounding ACOs. Toyomi Igus, the Communications Director at CAPP, participated in a session on ACO best practices at SHSMD 2012, and shared some of their recent research. Their findings included terms that were seen as negative, positive, or mixed – with some surprising results. Negative terms included language that was associated with being bureaucratic or not individualized, like “evidence-based medicine,” “medical home” and even “best practices.” Positive terms emphasized the relationship patients hope to have with their providers like “communication,” “treatment” and “coordinate.” Terms like “value” and “convenience” are a mixed bag, as these benefits sometimes imply low quality. There were six big picture takeaways from the CAPP’s research:
- Emphasize the doctor-patient relationship and how accountable care will support it
- Emphasize improved quality over convenience or cost
- Emphasize improved communication between patients, doctors and medical staff
- Consider reframing references to evidence-based medicine and guidelines
- Avoid references to life-threatening illness, safety or death
- And lastly, the healthcare marketers #1 rule: Use straightforward language!
The Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP) is a great resource for research and information relevant to ACOs. Founded in 2001, CAPP seeks to promote the development and recognition of the accountable healthcare model within organized delivery systems to improve healthcare quality and reduce costs. The organization informed the Affordable Care Act and continue to support research by leaders in the movement including Elliot Fisher (the Dartmouth Medical School professor who helped coin the term ACO) and Stephen Shortell (ACO advocate and Dean of the School of Public Health at University of California at Berkley).
Is there any language you avoid when marketing your hospital?
Interested in ACO’s? Check out the rest of our series: