Keeping your health brand relevant and engaging with the changing interests and expectations of today’s health audiences is a continuous process for us at Hailey Sault. 33% of all patients are looking to switch providers at any given moment, which should create urgency among hospitals and health systems to have their finger on the pulse of what patients want and need.

A strategy we often use to help our clients keep their brands innovative and exciting is to look outside the health care industry for inspiration.

For example: Uber and Lyft, the two biggest ride-sharing services.

You might not think of ridesharing brands as being relevant to healthcare, but consider this:

  • Uber and Lyft rely on independent drivers to serve customers, not unlike hospitals who have traditionally relied on independent physicians to care for patients.
  • Both ridesharing companies and health care leverage technology as differentiators, but are first and foremost service industries built on human interaction.
  • Uber owns the largest share of market and in recent years has become the verb for ridesharing (“Let’s Uber”), putting the brand in commodity territory—generic, ubiquitous—as is the fate of so many health systems that don’t differentiate.

Recently, both Lyft and Uber have made headlines.

Uber has been criticized for being brash, outspoken, using bullying tactics to get its way in cities it operates, and having a work culture that many say systematizes sexism.

On the other hand, Lyft has been recognized for its advancements in supporting charities, such as the “Round Up to Donate” campaign, which allows riders to round up their fare to the nearest dollar and donate the difference to charity. Lyft also partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield to provide no cost rides to members for medical appointments.

At the time of this writing, Uber has the lion’s share of market share, tracking at almost 75%. Lyft is a distant second.

And that’s where the parallels to health care brands get interesting.

What if your brand is the Uber of your market?

What if your brand is the biggest, most well known? What if you seem to have infinite market share?

Is it time to coast, to rest on your laurels? Is it time to play it safe?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Your brand might be the biggest, most dominant, most used.

But is your brand the most beloved?

As I’ve shared previously, health brands today face one of two outcomes: irrelevance or sacred trust.

Which future is your brand working on?

On the flip side: do you work for a health brand that’s a distant second or third in the market? Are you constantly chasing a larger, more well-known rival brand?

Maybe you should pull a Lyft strategy.

Early on, Lyft recognized its core brand strategy was to have an exceptional experience for both drivers and passengers. (Lyft has a 75% driver satisfaction rate—much, much higher than Uber.)

The logical reason for this focus: happy drivers equal happy passengers. Happy passengers equal positive word of mouth and more rides.

The same is true of health brands. Focusing on your physicians and clinical team engagement can impact the quality of the patient experience, driving positive word of mouth and loyalty.

Here’s another smart Lyft strategy to apply.

In January of this year, some New York City taxi drivers stopped driving to protest President Trump’s original travel ban. Uber raised its fares to respond to market demand, which frustrated the market. Lyft’s 180 degree response to the travel ban proposal? A $1million pledge to the American Civil Liberties Union.

In the age of population health strategies to keep people well and out of the hospital, look for thoughtful ways to support your local community’s wellness initiatives. For example, sponsor health and wellness-based events outside of your hospital. Become known as the brand that cares for the community, in and out of the hospital exam room.

Lyft seems to be the tortoise in the ridesharing race, which serves to reinforce Uber’s position as the brash, loud and domineering hare.

Maybe your competitor can outspend you.

But can your brand be the one that people most prefer…even love?

I think that’s a race worth winning.

Let me know in the comments below your thoughts.