It’s Best of Show … Again!

June 16, 2017

By Doug Bennett
President & Founder

Accepting the 2017 Best in New England Lamplighter Award from the New England Society for Healthcare Communications are agency President & CEO Doug Bennett (right) with Executive VP Jim Rattray.

We are thrilled to announce that the New England Society for Healthcare Communications has awarded its coveted Best in New England Lamplighter to Bennett Group for our work with Exeter Hospital to create and promote its innovative Center for Orthopedics & Movement.

Bennett Group is the only agency to win the Best in New England Lamplighter more than one time.

Bennett Group won a combined 34 national and regional awards in the 2017 National Healthcare Awards and the 2017 Lamplighter Awards from NESHCo.

In developing the Best in New England campaign for Exeter Hospital and Core Physicians, Bennett Group’s discovery and research led us to create the name for the center and build a campaign that harnessed the power and energy of movement. The entire campaign and can be viewed at

A huge thank you to Exeter and all of our amazing clients for allowing us to be your partner in doing such great work.

See the campaign here!

Taking a different point of view

March 15, 2017

By Doug Bennett
President & Founder

In today’s healthcare world of “me, too” messaging, it’s never been more important to listen to the consumer and develop marketing strategies that embrace the patient story to lend credibility and differentiate brand.

Honoring “the patient perspective” is the focus of this Healthcare Marketing Report point-of-view article written by Bennett Group’s President Doug Bennett and Executive Vice President Jim Rattray.

Download the article as a PDF.

New ideas in behavioral health marketing

January 9, 2017

By Doug Bennett
President & Founder

Marketing behavioral medicine services requires new thinking and sensitivity toward messaging development, along with creative thinking around ways to reach referral channels. Doug Bennett, Bennett Group agency president, talks about these challenges and ways to overcome them in this feature article recently published in the December 2016 issue of Healthcare Marketing Report.

Download the article as a PDF.

Marketing new thinking in orthopedic care

November 7, 2016

By Doug Bennett
President & Founder

blog-healthcare-marketing-report-ortho-bigOrthopedics is one of the defining services most acute care facilities build their brand around.

Bennett Group’s campaign “What moves you,” created for Exeter Hospital and Core Physicians in Exeter, N.H., was recently spotlighted in a feature article in Healthcare Marketing Report.

The article discusses the unique challenges and opportunities around marketing orthopedics, along with featuring breakthrough and successful campaigns created in the past year. In the article, Bennett Group President Doug Bennett talks about how the agency’s discovery and research lead to a unique creative positioning for Exeter Hospital.

Download the article as a PDF.



Healthy Lessons: Using Pokémon Go and Gamification to Boost Patient Engagement

July 26, 2016

By Jim Rattray
Executive VP

On a recent tranquil summer evening, the bucolic park in the center of our little town was overrun with hunters — from grade-schoolers to graying Boomers — all with their heads down, peering into their phones as they meandered throughout the park.

They were all in search of Pokémon. And they were everywhere — the hunters and the Pokémon.

The number of people across the U.S. taking their phones on a Pokémon pursuit has been astounding. After just its first few days, Pokémon Go became the biggest mobile game ever in the U.S. and even had eclipsed Twitter’s average number of daily users.

What struck me about the phenomenon was not the game itself. It is the fact that it is one of the first widespread uses of augmented reality that the public (and the media) has been able to understand and use with ease. Unlike virtual reality that requires a bulky headset, everyone already is outfitted with the gear they need — their smartphone.

And while Pokémon Go is not a “health” app, it does deliver positive health consequences or healthy lessons. Even the game’s description encourages users to “get your shoes on, step outside and explore the world.”

Most importantly, though, the app also shows hope for applying non-real world “realities” to improve patient engagement, medical understanding and our overall health.


About Realities

First a quick primer on “realities” — augmented and virtual. Since we all live in the real world, we’ll skip that one!

Augmented reality is the mixture of the digital world with the real world. By contrast, virtual reality is an entirely digital experience. Both can deliver immersive experiences but their application and value are different, especially with health and medicine.

Virtual reality shows great promise as a tool for health and medical education, while augmented reality may be able to help people better navigate and understand their immediate environment, such as in an occupational therapy setting.

3 Lessons from the Pokémon World

Which brings us back to Pokémon Go and its relationship to health engagement. As you watch people search for Pikachu, Charmander and Squirtle (or you hunt for Pokémon yourself), here are a few lessons that can be applied to the healthcare space.

1. Think Broadly about Engagement

Pokémon Go has become an inadvertent health app by masking healthy activity–getting outside and being active–within the game itself. It is likely that many copy-cat apps will emerge that use the “get outside and play in the real world” model.

The game expertly employs gamification to make a contest or challenge out of an everyday activity — in this case turning a walk or every walk, into a chance to find Pokémon and advance in the game. Gamification has been used for a long time in health apps like LoseIt! for weight loss or RunKeeper for activity to incentivize people to make healthier choices.

When applied more broadly, such tactics can promote better health and better choices in everyday activities.

It’s also about sharing and communicating. Pokémon Go activates a broad community because it is something that young and young-at-hearts all can enjoy — and do together. As we expand uses of technology in healthcare, especially those aimed at changing behavior, we need to consider the importance of community by engaging, empowering and activating support systems along with patients.

2. Give LARPing a Try

Pokémon Go is a live action role-playing game, or LARP and participants are LARPing. In these types of games, players physically act out what their characters are doing.

There is great promise in augmented reality-based role-playing within the healthcare community. Occupational therapists could work with patients in an augmented world to safely demonstrate and observe techniques as well as to see how patients react to different environments or situations. Another use could be to help new parents learn how to react to situations that may occur with their new baby. Doing is always better than just reading about it.

Role-playing already is important in medical education. With augmented and virtual reality, this approach can be expanded to new populations and new knowledge can be gained from data that can be collected.

3. Don’t Go it Alone — Think Partnerships

Very quickly, enterprising businesses figured out how to capitalize on the game’s sense of community and space.

Many businesses realized they could set a “lure” that would attract game players. These were coupled with promotions and discounts and drove incredible increases in traffic to coffee shops, pizza parlors and other small businesses — even churches!

When applied to health applications, partnerships could be extremely beneficial. They could take the shape of a collaboration among hospitals, physicians and device manufacturers or simply teaming up with health-minded businesses that would be attractive to patients and your community, perhaps to earn points or discounts.

But Don’t Forget Privacy!

Finally, a word about privacy, which is foundational in healthcare.

Of course Pokémon Go quickly exposed the privacy perils of digital engagement. The initial launch of the game potentially exposed more personal information than users had expected (an update fixed this) and some nefarious folks actually found a way to lure players into dangerous situations, some of which resulted in crimes.

It is unlikely that a purely health-related application of augmented reality would achieve the near ubiquity that Pokémon Go has but we always is be vigilant to protect the privacy of every user of any new health technology.

While the game certainly is not for everyone, Pokémon Go shows us how shifting our view of reality can lead to a new world of possibilities in patient engagement.


This post originally appeared on, where Jim serves as a frequent contributor and member of the site’s Healthcare Advisory Board.


5 steps to a more effective mission statement

May 9, 2016

By Jim Rattray
Executive VP

Everyone health system has a mission statement. But does yours reflect your organization and its aspiration to improve?

In response to a recent question on the SHSMD discussion board, we offered some guidance for when you are ready to sit down and construct your new mission statement.

  1. Start your mission statement as a declarative statement. “The mission of [HEALTH SYSTEM NAME] is to …” This shows confidence and conviction in your purpose.
  2. Then describe what you do. This could be to promote wellness, healing or advanced medical care.
  3. Next describe how you do it. This is how you will fulfill your mission (think of words like “coordinate” or “collaborate” if that describes your approach to healthcare).
  4. Show why you are important. Think of your primary audience (your patients) and the benefit you deliver to them (improving their lives).
  5. Finish with a phrase that refers back to your aspirational goal and reinforces the earlier points, such as “to build a healthier community.”

Here’s an example of how this might play out:

The mission of [HEALTH SYSTEM NAME] is to promote wellness, advance healing and restore health through coordinated, effective and efficient healthcare that makes a difference in the lives of our patients and builds a healthier community.

We’re all for brevity, but we believe the mission statement should serve as a blueprint for expected behaviors and priorities for your entire organization.

As you go through this important process, make sure your mission is both aspirational and achievable. And of course make sure it reflects the community you serve.

3 imperatives to transform health through mobile

April 5, 2016

By Jim Rattray
Executive VP

Bennett Group Executive VP Jim Rattray prepares for his talk at 2016 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.


I discovered some of the freshest thinking in patient engagement in a city better known for tapas and sangria than healthcare transformation.

MWC2016_logoI was honored to be a featured speaker at the 2016 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where the mobile phone industry gathers more than 101,000 people to talk technology, lifestyle — and now health.

For a seminar on mobile health, or mHealth as they call it, Congress organizer Mobile World Capital brought together four thinkers from Barcelona, London, Philadelphia and Boston (me) to work through how we can use technology to help people live healthier lives.

Our focus was on how digital technology can transform health-related behaviors. My contribution was two-fold — how I harnessed the power of the iPhone to help me take control of my own health and my work as a champion of patient engagement strategies to help others do the same.

We started with a simple premise — that changing behaviors of any kind is hard, but especially so when it comes to your health.

Motivating people to change a behavior is very personal — there’s no one size fits all. And as incredibly powerful as mobile technology has become, technology is just a tool, not a solution.

So how do we use technology to motivate behavioral change? I’ll distill it down to three key ingredients, all of which are essential to bring about broad changes that can improve the health of individuals and entire communities.

1. Make it personal.

It starts with a reality check. Our thinking is often that of a “perfect world” — what we hope a patient might do. But all of us live in the “real world,” where we are distracted minute-to-minute and cannot be relied upon to maintain a healthy lifestyle, never mind accurately capture data.

Technology can help by reminding us to eat right, exercise, go to sleep and be social. The next step must be to automate much of these actions so that we don’t have to think about it — let our tech think for us.

But it must be flexible and personal, aligned with each individual’s very distinctive sensibilities to help them achieve very intimate goals. It has to learn from you, but also push and guide you to help you achieve your desired result.

2. Make data real.

We need to ensure data integrity and set rigorous standards around data collection.

Let’s look at what constitutes a “step.” A step counted by RunKeeper may be different than one counted by Nike+ and different yet from one counted by Apple — even though all are counted on the same device. And if you use a FitBit, Garmin or other tracker, you’ll likely get entirely different readings.

This is where academic thinking and rigor can come in. If we can create a standardized set of definitions and approaches to data integrity, we can access a massive avalanche of usable data that can provide context and understanding of how small changes can have a big impact on improving health.

3. Make it all useful.

How these data are used is the next frontier.

Already some health systems in the U.S. are allowing for user-generated health data to be integrated into the electronic health record, but many physicians are hesitant to act on such data because the source and integrity is subject to wide variability (see above!).

Having people collect health data is a great first step and we are well along in helping people start down the motivation path. But many give up after just six months, often because data collection can be tedious and how those data are used can be opaque.

Patients need to see results from their actions. They need to see how collecting health data can turn into real health improvements. And providers and payors need to see how truly engaged patients can become active and contributing partners in achieving health goals.

The biggest thrill from being one of the very few Americans at MWC was participating in highly imaginative and spirited healthcare talk with amazingly bright physicians, enlightened policy makers and technology superstars from across Europe, Asia and Australia.

It is clear that the transformation toward healthier lives for everyone is well within our reach.



Bennett Group hospital rebranding campaign captures feeling of community

January 27, 2016

By Doug Bennett
President & Founder

An award-winning Bennett Group rebranding campaign for MidHudson Regional Hospital of Westchester Medical Center was featured in Strategic Health Care Marketing magazine.

The campaign focused on the renaming and reintroduction of the perviously struggling hospital in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., after it was purchased by Westchester Medical Center.

The article digs into the strategic thinking that went into the rebranding and how the creative execution helped reintroduce the hospital to the community and build internal morale at the hospital.

But it was the advertising itself that’s especially worthy of notice. It originally contained not a single picture of a doctor, nurse, high-tech device, or testifying patient. The only image of the hospital itself was in the final frame, behind the new logotype.

Instead, the advertising, in television, print, and outdoor, is a kind of regional “selfie,” filled with images of local shops, landmarks, and individuals. In television, a soundtrack sets the mood, using background music that seems to be emanating from two guys playing guitars in a local music shop.

You can read the entire article here.

You can view the entire campaign here.


What’s on your playlist for 2016?

January 5, 2016

By Jim Rattray
Executive VP

Podcasts are exploding in popularity with millions of shows that speak to just about any interest. They are an incredible resource for healthcare marketers and communicators. Here are three podcasts worth putting on your playlist for 2016.


Only Human

Only-HumanOnly Human is a new show from WNYC Studios, the offshoot of the New York City-based NPR station, that focuses on health from both a consumer and clinician perspective.

A recent episode, “Putting Care Back in the ICU,” looked at how systems in hospitals that ensure safety, such as checklists, can help build a culture that can boost both patient and clinician engagement.

According to Peter Pronovost, MD, a critical care physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, “the structures that make us make safe decisions are the same ones that allow us to treat each other respectfully and [are] the same ones that allow us to have empathy for our patients.”

“When patients are more engaged in their care and they are more respected, they heal faster, they have better outcomes and ironically the clinicians are happier,” Dr. Pronovost said.

This program shows a lot of promise to help general audiences understand the inner workings of hospitals and our health system, which can be an important driver in improving patient understanding and patient engagement.

Duration: About 10 to 25 minutes.


Hidden Brain

Hidden-BrainHidden Brain is another relatively new podcast from NPR where science correspondent Shankar Vedantam explores how our brains work, how we make decisions and how that can impact our personal lives, society and culture.

One episode, called “Back Up Plans,” explains the psychology — and effect — of whether a “plan B” helps or hurts. Through experts and examples, Vedantam explores how having a back-up plan can make us less motivated to reach our stated goals.

The podcast explores all kinds of psychological issues, many of which are helpful in understanding what motivates people and how people make decisions.

Duration: About 20 to 30 minutes.


The BeanCast

BeanCastThe BeanCast is a weekly independent podcast hosted by Bob Knorpp, a media planning and buying veteran, that focuses on marketing and public relations issues.

The podcast features a handful of guests from different marketing disciplines, collected from around the world, to discuss several hot topics — from the impact of ad blocking software to the pros and cons of pharmaceutical advertising to the sustainability of the social media economy.

Each episode ends with an irreverent look at the week’s five worst moments in marketing, advertising and public relations, which Bob calls the #AdFail5, so you can avoid making the same mistakes!

It’s a great, fast-paced listen that is sure to give you at least a few nuggets to ponder (and a few chuckles) as you develop your own marketing strategies.

Duration: About 60 minutes.



Your brand is not about you. Really.

October 29, 2015

By Jim Rattray
Executive VP

BLOG-Patient-Centered-LARGEAs healthcare marketing strategists, we are regularly asked to help our clients create a brand, build their brand or rebrand. Often times the request is for clever tag lines, more modern logos or exciting new colors. In every case, we remind them than brand equals experience — and that’s where we need to start.

We always start by grounding our clients in the reality of who defines their brand. The short answer: Not you. It’s your customers!

At the recently completed SHSMD 2015 conference in Washington, D.C., the themes of consumerism, consumer choice and patient experience continued to dominate many of the sessions. Understanding these trends will help you transform your organization into a truly patient-centric organization and create a “brand” that will speak for itself.

We suggest three key steps to help you get started refreshing your brand:

  1. Address patients’ needs, not your own.
  2. Team up with operations to make truly transformational change in patient experience.
  3. Find your voice.

The first two actually go hand-in-hand. Addressing the patient’s needs means understanding the experience from their perspective. And that means bringing real patients and families into the planning and design process. It means not fitting patients into your system — it means building a new system that fits the needs your patients.

This isn’t a task just for marketing. At Lehigh Valley Health Network in Pennsylvania, they knew they had an image problem that started at their front door. Their main hospital had a congested and potentially dangerous driveway, a lobby that was tired, cramped and confusing, and a process that started with a face-to-face with a security officer. Lehigh’s marketing and patient experience teams joined with operations and HR to completely re-think the patient experience — from physical changes to new uniforms to guest relations staff who now escort patients to their appointments.

At Lehigh, the marketing team knew this had to be a collaborative effort and that every department had to contribute. By doing so, they changed their culture, everyone became more accountable and there was improved pride in the organization. That is paying dividends with patient satisfaction.

Then there’s finding your voice. That begins with listening to your customers (your patients, their families and your community!) and understanding what their needs are and how you can meet them.

Most hospital and healthcare marketing has been focused on us — our institutions, our doctors and the accolades and awards we have received. That’s opposite of what patients want. Patients are looking for how you are focused on them — how are you going to get them back to the life they want.

Everyone who has gone through this understands this is a journey and will take time. But the only way to truly “rebrand” is to establish a brand experience that people will rave about!