Engineering Change: Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Six-Part Vision for the Future of Healthcare Marketing Takes Shape

January 25, 2017

// By Jane Weber Brubaker //

Vanderbilt HealthA little over two years ago, Jill Austin, chief marketing officer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), was given a challenge by her CEO. “Vanderbilt, at the time, had gotten a lot of recognition for being way out in front on social media,” says Chris Bevolo, author of Joe Public Doesn’t Care About Your Hospital, and executive vice president of ReviveHealth.

“In the conversation with the head of our health system,” says Austin, “we were talking about how we think about our asset that we have already built in terms of a relationship with the consumer. How do we really think about that from a broader perspective and further our relationship to the marketplace?”

Jill Austin, chief marketing officer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Jill Austin, chief marketing officer at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Bevolo and VUMC’s marketing department teamed up to answer this question: What does the future of healthcare marketing look like? Their collaboration over the past two years was showcased in “Reengineering Marketing for the New Healthcare World,” a presentation delivered at the 2016 SHSMD Connections conference. We followed up with them to learn more.

How do you even begin to tackle such a big idea, that may go well beyond the traditional boundaries of health system marketing? And how do you put it into action? Here, we’ll share:

  • The six “axes of change” that frame VUMC’s vision for the future
  • Actions it is taking to move toward the vision
  • Progress so far

Much has been accomplished in two years, as we’ll see, but the work is not done. Austin suggests, “There’s a lot of truth in just admitting how hard it is, and it’s not like you get finished.”


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