Case Study 6 – Hunterdon Healthcare:
How Bringing a Tag Line to Life Broke Down Silos of Care

Opportunity: Hunterdon Healthcare, a preeminent New Jersey System had a tagline with a lot of “legs.” “Your Full Circle of Care” was conceived to convey a full range of coordinated and comprehensive services available to patients. The System, which already had many of its primary care practices certified as medical homes by NCQA was positioned for the implications of reform, ACO’s, and the coordination of transitions of care these implied. Yet, the conveyance of the tag line in all media was anything but coordinated and comprehensive. Random uses of circles in advertising and on the web was the only bow to the tag line. It’s meaning was lost in the execution. The opportunity to first determine what a “circle of care” actually meant in terms of service delivery and then executing that on the web was presented. Here’s the before web site.

Process: A surgical services marketing plan was conceived for the client before this opportunity arose. In that plan, we graphically depicted what a circle of care could look like. The addition of a new orthopedic surgeon and the creation of The Center for Bone and Joint Health were used as the first test case for making the circle come alive. Typical approaches that hospitals would use when a new surgeon comes on board would be to market surgery. So the first distinction we made was that a center for joint health implied health first, surgery as an option. It recognized both how hospitals are being reimbursed now and how they will be in the future under bundled payment scenarios. And in fact The Center for Bone and Joint Health was experimenting with just such a bundled payment scenario with a well-known insurer. The fun began with facilitated sessions in which the orthopedic staff and ancillary service providers brainstormed what a circle of care conveyed. There were multiple and intense sessions but the circle was created.

It recognized that there was more to bone health than a surgical solution. The circle included:
Health and Wellness Centers, Primary Care, Testing, Geriatrics, Nutrition, Non-Surgery, Surgery, Rehabilitation, Home Health Care, Bone and Joint Health Quality.

While there was a cyclical pattern to how people might progress through their care options, the circle also conveyed that all of the services in the circle worked together for a patient’s care. This of course is at the root of the medical home. And it positioned the hospital for payment reform too, recognizing that keeping people out of the hospital would be rewarded in the not-too-distant future.

Result: While market share for The Center for Bone and Joint Health and then subsequently The Center for Advanced Weight Loss increased, the real win came from internally conveying to the staff the essence of the brand and its implications on care delivery. In essence it was positioning the hospital for success in the present and evolving it for success in the future. The “AHA” below was testament to this cultural win. As an added bonus, an independent evaluation of the website scored it as follows:

  • Overall Score: The facility scored at the 98.2 percentile relative to the national distribution.
  • Accessibility Score: The facility scored at the 94.1 percentile relative to the national distribution.
  • Content Score: The facility scored at the 98.9 percentile relative to the national distribution.
  • Marketing Score: The facility scored at the 96.7 percentile relative to the national distribution.
  • Technology Score: The facility scored at the 95.3 percentile relative to the national distribution.

Hunterdon also received the Acknowledgement of Excellence in Hospital Website Transparency from URAC and The Leapfrog Group. The Acknowledgement comes as part of an overall Excellence in Hospital Website Transparency Awards Program, which identifies outstanding hospital websites promoting transparency of safety and quality measures in a manner that is useful and user-friendly for consumers.  The Acknowledgement of Excellence in Hospital Website Transparency is an evaluation of a hospital’s overall website transparency including elements related to design, credibility, literacy and connectivity. This acknowledgement is based on a set of objective criteria established in accordance with the National Quality Forum’s guidelines for consumer-focused, Internet-based public reporting of health performance data as well as the Model Public Report Elements prepared for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and other research-based criteria.

The “AHA” Moment: The real “AHA” moment was when a buzz started circulating among the service lines of what was happening with the bone and joint approach. All of a sudden everyone wanted their own “circle” and it became an interesting but good dilemma to then start prioritizing execution. And it was really up to the service line staff not marketing to step to the plate by bringing their teams together for facilitated sessions. Here’s one reaction from the patient safety and quality lead:

Hi, Anthony, Its me, Stephanie D, from Hunterdon. I worked with you on the Patient Safety experience for our website. What a wow to finally see our story take shape in cyberspace – thank you for such a great job and such powerful inspiration.


robert wise

“Anthony has been most effective in quickly analyzing the strenghs and weaknesses of my organization’s marketing plan with a minimum of resistance or denial.He didn’t stop there, however. He used a combination of experience, creativity, and style to retool my team’s thinking and approach toward the plan into a full-endorsed strategy for the future.The engagement was a success story.”
Robert Wise, President and CEO, Hunterdon Healthcare