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The Rise of Branding

This year’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference was an amazing display of the creativity and growth in the U.S healthcare system. After four days in San Francisco, the verdict was in: the giant sector of the healthcare industry focused on care delivery and financing is undergoing a renaissance, and the health technology companies that make it possible have a major tailwind.

This thesis emerged from our own hectic four-day schedule of CEO meetings and sessions. Given our firm’s focus on the business of healthcare, we spent all our time on health IT, health services, and health systems, attending a myriad of presentations as well as more than a dozen meetings with VC and PE groups, public and private companies, and our clients.

There will be winners and losers for sure, and there have been some good insights about the trends we observed at JP Morgan, including this listicle from Becker’s Hospital Review. The topics included won’t be a surprise, and reflect many of the biggest 2016 predictions, from population health and personalized medicine to consumerism and taking on risk.

But the #10 observation in that Becker’s listicle reveals a more interesting, often undervalued component of healthcare success: brand. And this came out in our conversations with dozens of companies, too. As we talked to CEO after CEO, we saw a resurgent interest in how branding, marketing, and communications impact the success of new strategies and the companies driving them.

Any time you have new strategies powered by innovative ideas and business models, you will find high-powered marketing and communications at the center.

Any time you are trying to drive new business models and engagement strategies, branding becomes critically important.

Any time you need to reach and convert a new audience to action, creative marketing and digital strategies can be the difference between success and failure.

One thing is certain – trends are too important to ignore, and any company that thinks it can be successful without understanding the changing environment is likely to struggle or even fail. Indeed, a recent Modern Healthcare article about JP Morgan lamented the “common sentiment at the conference among health systems and their venture capital arms that technology entrepreneurs don’t really understand their business.”  This disconnect gets solved with the right brand strategy, positioning, messaging, and marketing.

As the regulatory and business environment in healthcare continues to change, the imperative for health IT companies to better understand and communicate their solution will only become stronger. The companies attending JP Morgan understood that. Yet only those who take action will win.

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