"The most influential touchpoint of our brand is that we are sharing our practical expertise and proven results (we are an operator, not a traditional consultant). As the health care marketplace becomes more challenging, providers are naturally intrigued by what HCA has accomplished."
In your experience, what do you feel matters most when it comes to building a successful brand?
We believe an organization’s people are really the foundation of building a successful brand. Like a reputation, a brand is built and refined over time, yet it is our people and their ability to execute on the mission and vision of our organization on a daily basis that builds, shapes, and increases the integrity of our brand.
While our execution dictates our reputation, the brand is also supported by a clear link to our mission, combined with consistent promotion and market recognition through industry events and publications.
Can you share some insight as to how you have successfully balanced a diverse portfolio of brands?
While the Parallon brand is new (having just launched in May 2011), we were born out of the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) that was established in 1968. HCA has built a reputation over the last 43 years as one of the nation’s leading providers of health care services. We are proud to build Parallon on the equity of the HCA brand. The services that we offer through Parallon are established lines of business that were developed, tested, and perfected at HCA. And, it is those established shared service solutions that are being offered through Parallon.
Two of our top brands also born from HCA, HealthTrust Purchasing Group and National Patient Account Services (NPAS), are now offered under Parallon. HealthTrust, with 12 years of brand equity, lends credibility to the capabilities we are now able to market through Parallon. NPAS, the health care industry's largest provider of early-out collection services for hospitals, brings 31 years of industry expertise to Parallon and its Business Performance Group, which provides full-service revenue cycle outsourcing, consulting, and management services.
In what ways do you ensure your brand maintains relevance?
The name Parallon was created uniquely for the organization to indicate that Parallon Business Solutions works side-by-side, or in parallel, with health care providers to enhance their operational and financial performance. We see ourselves as a process improvement organization whose brand is tied to the core of our business, which is our people, processes, and technology. And, because we serve one of the nation’s leading providers of health care services on a daily basis, we have to remain relevant by continually refining and evolving our brand and our business model.
Just as Parallon was formed on the credibility of shared service success at HCA, the future of the brand will benefit from the addition of other proven solutions perfected by HCA.
How do you see the role of brand changing within the health care sector over the next five to 10 years?
Collaborating with Interbrand, we developed our brand so that it can evolve as the health care marketplace continues to change and respond to the implications of reform. Our tagline, “the business of health care transformed,” positions us to be on the cutting edge and ready to assist customers to best respond to the dynamics of the healthcare landscape.
We believe the brand will evolve to be less dependent on HCA’s success and more a function of adopted best practices across our membership.
Is there a single touchpoint of your brand that you think will be more influential to your consumers in the next five to 10 years?
The most influential touchpoint of our brand is that we are sharing our practical expertise and proven results (we are an operator, not a traditional consultant). As the health care marketplace becomes more challenging, providers are naturally intrigued by what HCA has accomplished. Over time, we would expect our brand to evolve such that providers credit Parallon as being the leading health care consultancy and innovator—where proposed solutions are the function of best practices, both within HCA and its client base.
In what ways do you and your company encourage employee brand engagement? In your opinion, what is essential to success on this front?
In launching the Parallon brand in May of this year, it was key that we kept employees informed and updated along the way. We created toolkits for managers to cascade information to colleagues and we developed a podcast channel for Parallon leaders to provide audio updates. Since Parallon was created from four already existing business units, it was also important to recognize the talent, leadership, and culture that existed within each business unit and the strengths that they would bring to the new organization.
We are working with all colleagues to foster a “Parallon” culture via regular communications from senior leaders across multiple business functions.
How much of a role does corporate citizenship currently play in managing your brand?
The legacy of giving back was started at HCA, and Parallon Business Solutions continues to build on this through a deep commitment to the communities in which we live, work, and serve. We have been there, with boots on the ground, to help when tragedy strikes—for example, evacuating patients when Hurricane Katrina struck and making sure that other area hospitals had plenty of supplies. As an organization, we are one of middle Tennessee’s largest corporate philanthropists and we encourage and inspire that spirit of giving in our colleagues, offering community service projects they can participate in, as well as paid time off work for volunteering.
What brands (health care or non-health care) have inspired you over the years? What is it about these brands that most impresses you?
Non-health care branding has always been more creative. Health care has been more conservative—until Parallon came along. While there are many impressive brand leaders in the health care industry, it is the healthcare providers—hospitals, treatment centers and surgery centers—that have made some of the most impressive strides in building brand awareness for their services.
While traditionally conservative in their marketing approach, health care providers have begun adopting many of the best practices seen in consumer marketing to build their own brand recognition and community culture in an increasingly competitive environment. Today’s successful health care organizations employ sophisticated multimedia strategies to leverage social media, network events, and targeted campaigns to educate patients about their services, recruit physicians, and build a base of support in the communities they serve.
ABOUT BEVERLY WALLACE & BOB DAVIS
Beverly Wallace is president of Parallon Business Solutions. Since 2001 she served as president of HCA's Shared Services Group, responsible for the company's accounts receivable management, supply chain, HealthTrust Purchasing Group, All About Staffing, Financial and Employee Services systems development and implementation. She was also responsible for managed care contracting for HCA's 160+ hospitals. Prior to joining HCA, Beverly was a Chief Financial Officer at several facilities with Humana, Inc. Beverly currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Federation of American Hospitals and is a former Board member of Healthcare Financial Management Association.
Bob Davis is a marketing executive with 18 years of experience. Bob is director of marketing and has been with HealthTrust (a Parallon Business Solutions company) for four years. In his role, he is responsible for advertising, brand management, conference and tradeshow planning, business planning, marketing research, education, communications and sales collateral development, and support. He was part of the lead team that worked with Interbrand on developing the Parallon brand. Prior to HealthTrust, Bob held marketing management roles for the National Federation of Independent Business, Ducks Unlimited, and Federal Express.