Book Review - Healthcare Marketing in Transition: Practical Answers to Pressing Questions

March-April 1997


Healthcare Marketing in Transition: Practical Answers to Pressing Questions
Terrence J. Rynne
Irwin Professional Publishing, Burr Ridge, IL
1995, 287 pp., $45.00

Terrence Rynne's book delivers on its promise to provide practical information that will help those faced with contemporary healthcare marketing challenges. Well organized, the book guides novice as well as experienced marketing professionals through a logical approach to market assessment, planning, and positioning for today's evolving healthcare systems and services.


Rynne proposes that healthcare marketing is experiencing fundamental change because the healthcare purchasing decision, in both content and context, is fundamentally changing. Rynne argues that, under the old paradigm, "consumers choose physicians; physicians choose hospitals; and insurance programs pick up the tab." Across the country, at various paces, this decision model is moving to a new paradigm, under which "employees choose their physicians, hospitals and other healthcare providers at the same moment they choose their insurance. It is all bundled together in one package."

Thus, the book acknowledges, most healthcare marketing professionals are living "between the times," juggling the old, the new, and the in-between on a day-to-day basis. The first chapter provides a practical overview of marketing to consumers, physicians, employers, and managed care companies under all three paradigms. Also helpful is a basic guide to assessing market readiness while moving through the paradigms from traditional fee-for-service care to capitation.

Rynne identifies the unique challenges in marketing integrated healthcare delivery networks, which are complex, unknown products in today's marketplace. The fundamental principles of marketing apply: Trace the mechanics of the purchase decision and understand the variables in the decision-making process; reposition the concept of an integrated healthcare delivery system and the basic product and place of the marketing mix in terms of consumer benefits; take charge of the system's identity; and orchestrate a communications campaign.

Rynne stresses that, before initiating any external marketing program, internal systems and people must have a marketing orientation. He acknowledges that, all too often, hospitals and healthcare systems are internally focused, "expert-driven" organizations that are not aligned with patients' expectations. Rynne advocates "a marketing management philosophy that makes listening to the customer in an in-depth way the first step of service delivery and design."

In chapter 3, Rynne identifies four strategies for instilling a marketing orientation throughout a healthcare organization. These include using qualitative market research, making marketing the subject of a management system, providing simple-to-use formats for operating unit managers to develop their own marketing plans, and using existing organizational lines of power to force the issue of key changes in service design.

Rynne next turns to creating a positioning strategy and positive image. Using case studies and success stories, the book provides a basic, step-by-step approach to identifying the requirements for an effective positioning statement, developing an effective positioning strategy, and emblazoning a chosen position on the mind of the marketplace. Again, the author reminds readers that good promotion will not compensate for a bad product or service.

Rynne also addresses how to determine the appropriateness of positioning the hospital versus the healthcare system in the marketplace and the relevance of positioning to the consumer in a managed care environment.

Chapter 5 provides a guide to developing results-oriented marketing plans. Rynne emphasizes the benefits of focusing on the process as well as the format, based on the assumption that a well-implemented marketing plan should not only produce results in the marketplace, it should produce internal changes in consciousness. He provides a helpful comparison of marketing, strategic, and business plans.

The final chapter of the book briefly addresses service line management, marketing, and managed care. The author identifies when and why service line management works, as well as changes necessary for success as organizations move into the new managed care paradigm.

Healthcare Marketing in Transition: Practical Answers to Pressing Questions is a good resource for professionals involved in healthcare marketing and management. It applies the fundamental principles of marketing to healthcare organizations in a rapidly changing environment.

Diane S. Jones
Director of Marketing and Community Relations
St. Francis Hospital
Wilmington, DE


Copyright © 1997 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3477.

Book Review - Healthcare Marketing in Transition - Practical Answers to Pressing Questions

Copyright © 1997 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States

For reprint permission, contact Betty Crosby or call (314) 253-3490.