The next big hire for health systems: a marketing officer

January 7, 2015 | Houston Business Journal

By Joe Martin

In the past, hospitals haven't had to worry about attracting patients, otherwise known as their customers. But with recent regulatory changes, health care systems are now focusing on something they've looked over in the past — their brand.

Health systems have seen a shift in the way they do business, said Scott Sette, executive vice president of executive search firm DHR International. Reimbursement by the federal government is now tied to patient satisfaction and cost-saving.

As the industry changes, health care companies will be forced to compete for consumer attention.

"The large health care company has to build that brand recognition with the end consumer," Sette said. "And they have to strengthen their customer experience platform, so wherever (the patient) goes in the system, they make sure they're getting a constant experience across the board."

Another aspect that will affect how hospitals do business is consumer emphasis on data. Patients are beginning to expect upfront information on pricing, doctor ratings and other data, said Sette. In the future, shopping for a doctor or health company will be similar to shopping for a TV online, he said.

So to answer the demands of the patient, Sette said that health systems in Houston and nationwide are searching for chief marketing and experience officers to help find and fix the gaps in their current campaigns. New hires are coming from industries that have already dealt with customer shifts, such as retail and hospitality.

"They're taking some of the things that those industries have learned and how they have reacted to more transparency, and more data accessible online," said Sette. "Health care hasn't experienced the transformation yet, but I believe it's coming."

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