Columbia Business School’s 7th Annual Healthcare Conference

Back in November, I attended Columbia Business School’s 7th Annual Healthcare Conference. A majority of the conference's panels were made up of executives from both sides of the aisle—the provider side (New York Presbyterian) and the payer side (Aetna).

Those of us in the healthcare industry are currently in the midst of an unprecedented system overhaul. The distinct groups that make up our industry are gearing up for a much tougher competitive environment and are redefining their relationships—all in an effort to remain profitable while continuing to improve outcomes.

Payers want to see more value for their dollar and are working hard to drive down, or shift, costs. They would like to see more quantifiable bases for assessing performance such as cost-effective management of chronic diseases as measured by the number of related hospitalizations.

Providers, on the other hand, want to leverage the added value of their products and services. They wish to place more emphasis on the overall quality of care or the “patient experience.”

While the strategies that were raised during the panel discussions were timely and relevant, I could not help but notice that roles and objectives were not exactly being redefined from a brand perspective.

At InterbrandHealth, the health and life sciences division of Interbrand, I have seen our clients benefit from harnessing the power of brand to support their business goals.

As I listened to the exchange of ideas and approaches, I thought of at least a two ways that payers and providers could use brand to help them survive these turbulent times:

1. Create and entrench emotionally-based values

2. Provide differentiation among very similar products & services (i.e. differentiate one hospital/healthcare insurance company from another)

My colleagues at InterbrandHealth and I believe that brand is currently the most underleveraged business asset in the health and life sciences industry. We do feel, however, that this will soon change as brand becomes of a part of both payers’ and providers’ everyday dialogue.

I truly enjoyed my time at Columbia Business School’s 7th Annual Healthcare Conference and I hope that when I attend the conference this coming fall, there will be hints that participants have gained a deeper appreciation for the power brands hold when it comes to creating value for their respective organizations and consumers.