By the late 1990s, Bexar County Hospital had become the “stepchild” of the San Antonio medical community. While associated public health services and affiliates – community clinics, the transplant center, Texas Diabetes Institute – enjoyed public approval, the county hospital had become the institution of last resort, rarely receiving referrals.
More importantly, the tax-supported institution received limited approval in public polls. Social marketing was necessary to show the public how the hospital cared for patients with confidence, compassion and competence. The hospital district asked esd to address the problem.
rebranding to shape public perception
Over the intervening years, esd has helped the system rename, define and amplify its service to San Antonio and South Texas. The hospital formalized its relationship with the neighboring – and connected – University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), one of the largest medical schools in Texas. Bexar County Hospital District renamed itself University Health System and the hospital became University Hospital.
The first campaign in the rebranding effort was a simple acknowledgment – not to the hospital – but to the taxpayers that sustain it.
thank you, San Antonio, for saving Drew’s life
In a series of magazine ads and institutional posters, University Hospital featured stories of a few of the many miracles that happen in acute care. From a police officer with tracheal cancer to a Little League pitcher with Ewing’s Sarcoma to a high school student saved from dramatic heart and kidney failure, each story was focused on a key point: the positive outcomes would not be possible without University Hospital, and the Hospital would not be possible without taxpayer support. “Thank you, San Antonio”
continuing to build on the theme
“Thanks to you, San Antonio” has led to other campaigns over the years, from a history wall adorning the hospital with major milestones to the recently completed fresh design of the www. UniversityHealthSystem.com website. This site clearly associates the Hospital with its Community Medicine Clinics, TDI, University Transplant Center, the region’s only Level 1 Trauma Center, AirLIFE air ambulance and other affiliates.
In 2010, we have added social media to the University Health System campaigns, opening custom Facebook and Twitter pages for University Health System and several of its affiliates. We are currently producing a new video series featuring a grandmother who cares about your health.
the healthcare jewel in county services
The consistent branding effort, which also included internal campaigns to increase pride and commitment to patient care, has produced tangible results. In 2008, the Capital Improvement Project bonds were passed to expand University Health System facilities, making more space for the life-saving trauma center and expanding the system’s downtown facility, which provides a broad array of services for San Antonio’s urban population. esd could easily extend our thanks to you San Antonio, not just for understanding and responding to the rebranding, but for the many patients served by University Health.