How Banner Health Manages Its Brand Online — An Interview with the CMO

Lori Maupas
Lori Maupas, Editor

Banner Health is a non-profit health system based in Phoenix. The organization provides emergency and hospital care, hospice and long-term care, outpatient surgery, labs, rehabilitation services and primary care. With 28 hospitals, several specialized facilities across six states and more than 50,000 employees, the system is the largest employer in Arizona and one of the largest in the U.S.

For Banner, ensuring the best-possible patient experience across all facilities is an ongoing goal. To that end, the marketing and operations teams use Reputation.com to manage the online reputation of its thousands of doctors and locations, and gain insights to improve patient care.

We recently interviewed Alexandra Morehouse, Chief Marketing Officer at Banner Health, to learn more about how her organization is actively engaging with patients online and using these conversations to improve patient experience.

Q:  What is the mission at Banner Health?

A:  To make healthcare easier so that life can be better.

Q:  What larger impact does Banner Health strive to have on healthcare?

A:  The model for healthcare in this country is broken. Consumers know they’re paying a lot for it, but they don’t understand what those costs cover, the quality of the care they’re getting or how to make informed healthcare decisions. Healthcare is very regionalized, so our aspiration at Banner is not to deliver healthcare just in our geographical footprint, but to develop a working model that provides timely and affordable care to everybody. We believe everybody deserves great healthcare.

Q:  What is the most fulfilling part of your role?

A:  For me, it’s about putting the customer first. Historically, the physician has been at the center of healthcare delivery, but now the customer is coming first. We’re working with physicians to turn the whole model around, and seeing the difference it makes in customers’ lives is the most fulfilling thing for me.

Q:  How has Banner set out to do that?

A:  We started with revisiting our mission. We conducted an extensive survey across geographies, age, income and ethnicity and found people just want healthcare to be easy and affordable. Armed with that data we developed our new mission statement. We came up with our new set of values, which we represent visually as a bullseye. At the center of the bullseye, our core mission, is an obsession about the customer.

Q:  Why is Online Reputation Management important to Banner Health?

A:  People search for providers online, regardless of where they live or their age. They look for providers nearby, then evaluate cost and availability. But more than any other factor, patients’ healthcare decisions are influenced by recommendations, ratings and reviews.

Q:  Can you tell me about how Online Reputation Management has helped you form your marketing strategy?

A:  The two need to go hand in hand: Your marketing messages show up in what you do and how you actually deliver service. Internal stakeholders are generally interested in increasing advertising dollars, but it’s foolish to do so if ratings and reviews are poor. If we’re saying, “We’re making healthcare easier so that your life can be better,” but patients’ actual experience at an urgent care facility or the ER isn’t easy at all, what we’re saying doesn’t match the customer’s experience, and the brand messaging isn’t authentic. We need to make sure that what we deliver is the same as what we say we’re going to deliver.

Q:  How does Reputation.com help your team meet its goals?

A:  Reputation.com has held us to a higher standard. We use Reputation.com for operations management, because it helps us uncover areas in which we need to make improvements. If we are having difficulties with parking in a certain area or with receptionists checking in patients, we can use the platform to identify those shortcomings and make changes in our operations. It takes it out of the realm of opinion and makes it completely objective.

Q:  In what ways has Reputation.com impacted how you interact with patients?

A: First, it’s changed the way patients find us. Local searches can be filtered by ratings and reviews. Second, it’s allowing us to gather candid feedback directly from patients to help us improve the patient experience. It’s fundamentally changing the way patients interact and engage with us.

Q:  Is there opportunity in negative reviews?

A:  We see a lot of opportunity in negative reviews, particularly in any consistent patterns we identify. If you see something happening repeatedly, it’s much easier to take action to change or fix the problem.

Q:  Why is Online Reputation Management important for large healthcare organizations?

A:  If you’re not actively participating in ratings and reviews, and you’re not showing up in search, you’re never going to come up at the top of search results. Have you heard the old joke, “Where do you hide a dead body? The second page of Google search results.” This rings true for healthcare organizations today. Patients have so many healthcare choices, if you’re not on the first page of search results, you’re not even in the running.

Q:  How has Reputation.com changed the overall tone how your doctors and staff communicate with patients?

A:  The government report card — NCQA, CAHPS all the HETA scores —  have always been very important, because that’s how we got paid. Now, what individuals think is much more influential. Although they’re not going to determine your pay, they can definitely swing your market share and how many people come to you in the first place. We’ve gotten to the point now that we can bring the text of patient reviews into the executive committee and board meetings, and it makes people pay attention in a very pointed fashion.

Q:  How are online ratings and reviews changing the game in healthcare?

A:  I feel a very strong mission to break the code of silence that I think has captured most of healthcare for most of its history. People are paying a lot of money. Their children’s health and safety, their own health and safely, and their parents’ health and safety are at stake — they deserve to know what they’re getting for their time and money, and they deserve to know that they are going to be treated respectfully.

In the world of healthcare, physicians listen to other physicians, and health systems listen to other health systems. But if health systems begin to change the script and hold themselves accountable, not only to government scores, but to public opinion, we can open up those doors, put out the good, the bad and the ugly, and do something about it. I think that is a form of leadership. It’s still scary for us but we strongly believe in it.