Hospice Provider Rolls Out Name Change with a Full Court Press
Graham: A key question was whether we keep hospice in the name
Jean Graham, senior director of marketing at Care Dimensions, said, Our new name encompasses the multi-dimensions of care we provide. It symbolizes the melding of compassion and expertise and illustrates how we surround patients and their families with care. Our mission remains the same, our leadership and staff remain the same, only our name has changed to better reflect who we are.
The name change for the 36-year-old, Danvers-based organization follows similar moves in recent years by other hospice providers. In 2012, Hospice and Palliative Care of Cape Cod, based in Hyannis, rebranded itself to Hope Health, and last fall Hospice of the Good Shepherd in Newton changed its name to Good Shepherd Community Care.
Graham said the acquisition of Waltham-based Partners Hospice in 2011 began the process to change the name, which involved a strategic review and new name roll-out, which eventually would cost Hospice of the North Shore & Greater Boston (HNS), which has an annual operating budget of $38 million, about $900,000.
After we acquired Partners Hospice, which then moved to Wellesley, a name change was too much to undertake at that time. We knew 'Hospice of the North Shore & Greater Boston, which is a mouthful, would be temporary, she said. After 18 months it was apparent it wasnt working. Its long and cumbersome, and led to confusion for referral sources and families. They heard 'North Shore and didnt realize we covered a broader territory.
Strategic and Marketing Position Review
In September 2012, HNS hired Denneen & Company, a Boston strategy consultancy, to work with the board on a number of issues, including business planning, directions of new growth, and overall market positioning. Focus groups, surveys, and extensive interviews with referral sources, patients and their families, employees, board members, and others informed this work.
An online survey of referral sources, which drew 104 responses from physicians, nurses, long-term and assisted living staff across eastern Massachusetts, helped the organization determine how referral sources perceived hospice care in general and HNS in particular.
Interviews with patients, as well as with people who had never used hospice, on how they selected HNS, or would go about choosing a hospice, found that 25% of patients pick a hospice by name, 32% delegate the decision to care professionals, and 43% ask care providers for suggestions but are also involved.
After getting input from employees, a positioning statement was developed. Most importantly, Graham said, HNS wanted to focus on services it already provided and not expand into other areas such as fee-for-education services or physician home health calls. HNS would also focus on the 90 communities it served, but would be open to strategic opportunities.
HNS also learned that its emphasis on compassion and depth of expertise set it apart from the approximately 80 other providers of hospice care in Massachusetts.
Once a branding platform was established, the board created a sub-committee, which included eight board members and five hospice executives, to develop a new name. That work got underway last May, eventually generating more than 200 potential names. Suggestions came from an employee contest, which generated more than half of the suggestions, as well as from focus groups and others.
A key question was whether we keep hospice in the name, said Graham. We ended up taking it out since we do palliative care and bereavement care for the community. Also, weve had many instances where family members ask staff to remove their badge, which says 'hospice, since they say it could upset the patient.
We were also looking to broaden our tent and encompass all services, which would also enable us to start conversations without using the 'H word, as it scares some families. Were proud of what we do, but were sensitive to patients. We also wanted something distinctive and ownable in the northeast that got the messaging across.
After narrowing the 200 potential names to 16, and then three, HNS conducted legal research to determine which could be trademarked. The final name was chosen in late August.
Rolling Out the New Name
In preparing to roll out the new name, HNS hired outside experts, including Pat Kennedy, a Boston-based marketing consultant, Fassino Design in Waltham to work on overall branding, including a new logo, Leo Rice for ad buying, Steve Dariotis for advertising design, and Lexington-based Auracana to develop videos.
We wanted to launch the new name in November in connection with National Hospice and Palliative Care Month, and target January 1 as the official switchover date, Graham said.
To launch the name, HNS is now engaged in a media/roll-out campaign that will eventually cost about $400,000. It includes:
She said special care was taken to educate the donor community, which was very attached to the original name: We wanted them to understand the business reasons for the change and to know that the new name works better for patients and families, too.