Healthcare Hypocrisy

posted by David W. Johnson on May 28, 2021 - 12:00am

This month’s song is our riff on Joe South’s 1969 megahit “Games People Play.” It’s a song about posturing, bravado and hypocrisy. It describes people who are “Never saying what they mean now. Or meaning what they say.” Our version emphasizes the need for healthcare companies to stop playing games and offer American fair, transparent and high-value healthcare services.

In his book, Winning the Story Wars, author Jonah Sachs brings America’s original marketing wizard to life. John Emory Powers had these three commandments for successful marketing campaigns: 

First: “Be Interesting”
Second: “Tell the Truth” 
Third: “Live the Truth”

The last commandment can be the most difficult. Powers’ advice, “If you can’t live the truth, change what you’re doing so you can.” 

Marketing truth works. Here’s a typical John Powers advertisement: “These neckties are not as good as they look, but they’re good enough: 25 cents.” The ties flew off the shelves. Customers believed the messaging and voted with their purchases. Great companies build brand loyalty by speaking and living their truths day in and day out. 

Human beings are hardwired to identify and punish hypocrisy. Far too many healthcare companies do not live their truths. They proclaim to put patients first, but their services are inconsistent, inconvenient, uncompassionate, disconnected and overpriced. 

Recent polling indicates that consumers dislike healthcare more than banking (that’s saying something) but still hold hospitals, doctors and nurses in high regard. While consumers’ goodwill lasts, healthcare companies can align operations with rhetoric. Those that speak and live the truth will earn customers’ confidence and win market share. Those that say one thing and do another will lose relevance.