News and Insights

A closer look at Sabre Finalist, Vanderbilt University Medical Center

May 6, 2021

What was the challenge?

In Spring 2020, health systems nationwide were straining mightily under the weight of COVID-19 and taking extraordinary measures to care for the sick. VUMC halted elective procedures and sent some staff to work from home. By April 2020, patient appointments were plummeting and the stress of the pandemic was fraying VUMC’s workforce.

VUMC’s marketing department turned to its agency of record, FINN Partners, for support.

What was our solution?

Together, VUMC and FINN Partners decided to buck the prevailing marcomms trend in Nashville’s hyper-competitive provider market. With competitors pulling back due to pandemic-driven economic uncertainty, VUMC doubled-down on its marketing and communications efforts, and the VUMC/FINN team quickly developed a multi-pronged and ambitious campaign to achieve the following objectives:

External: Return patient appointment numbers in 2020 to 2019 levels, thereby maintaining and/or improving patient health and wellbeing and VUMC’s economic stability.

Internal: Develop new platforms for internal communications to maintain/improve employee morale and productivity.

Action was paramount. Time was of the essence. The right tone was critical. The right message was essential.

Why was the work important?

VUMC and FINN Partners launched marketing campaigns that elevated the voices of trustworthy VUMC leaders, focused on the safety procedures in place and urged patients not to delay medical care.  We kicked production into high gear and launched campaigns within days and weeks across multiple distribution channels, including TV, radio, digital/social, outdoor, OTT, and print.

  • Phase I  – “Caring  Makes Community”  expressing gratitude and  thanking the community and  VUMC’s workforce
  • Phase II – “A Safe Return” focusing on how VUMC would keep patients safe as they resumed visits
  • Phase III – “Staying Safe is Essential.  So Is Your Health” focusing on why patients should not delay seeking care

FINN Partners also helped VUMC reimagine internal communications and found highly effective ways to reach employees despite distance.

  • Virtual Leadership Assembly – Transformed in-person events into virtual for VUMC’s 28,000+ workforce
  • Workforce Videos – Scripted and produced more than 30 CEO videos providing pandemic updates
  • VUMC HR Years of Service Award Show – Turned an annual event honoring employees for milestone years of service into a virtual program with in-depth profiles to help provide new connection points for VUMC’s workforce

VUMC/ FINN also leveraged the medical center’s vaunted leadership to develop a public PSA encouraging mask-wearing and a dynamic podcast series, both of which continue to inspire the public today:

  • ‘This is What Caring Looks Like” video – Promoting mask-wearing as an act of caring
  • “Vanderbilt Health DNA:  Discoveries in Action”  podcast – Exploring scientific advancements shaping health, medicine and society in an uncertain world

Any interesting facts or behind the scenes moments?

Within months, VUMC had fostered a healthier community and happier workforce. Appointments increased as patients sought necessary medical care and eventually surpassed 2019 patient appointment volumes. VUMC’s workforce engagement scores also increased, meaning that employees were more satisfied with their work. The Vanderbilt Health podcast was ranked as one of the top science podcasts by Apple Podcasts, galvanizing VUMC’s reputation as an institution at the forefront of science and medicine during an era when health innovation has never been more critical.

TAGS: Health