Positioning of a hospital: the importance of positioning in healthcare

Positioning of a hospital: the importance of positioning in healthcare
Tired of the mission and vision statements from hospitals? Sparse and overly generic texts about societal importance that lack any hint of personality rub us the wrong way too. Hospitals face a genuine challenge: how to remain societally relevant in an evolving healthcare landscape? Positioning forms the foundation of every potential answer you could give, as the answer differs for each hospital. Therefore, we focus on 4 aspects of positioning that are particularly applicable to hospitals in this piece.

Hospital Positioning Builds Trust


A hospital is a ‘societal enterprise’ primarily serving the residents of a specific region. This service remains crucial, even as we increasingly discuss the commercialization of healthcare. With so many different interests to consider, it’s essential for hospitals to clearly communicate what they do, why they do it, and how successful they are at it. Accountability and trust are thus paramount. An important tool for this is the annual report, but for many societal enterprises, this has become a box-ticking exercise they’d rather complete as easily as possible. A missed opportunity! A well-crafted annual report is consulted by all stakeholders and gives the board or managers a much-needed platform to explain decisions or results. Positioning acts as the guiding thread for an annual report because it directs what the institution talks about, how it does so, and with what level of transparency.

Hospital Positioning Talks About What Quality Means There

A hospital that is also an educational institution undoubtedly has a different view on ‘healing’ than, for example, a city hospital. The question – what does quality mean to us – seems evident, but answers vary widely in practice. Is it about the duration of a care trajectory, patient experience, or efficiency? One is not better than the other, at least we don’t have an opinion on that, but comparing one hospital to another then becomes the proverbial apples and oranges. In positioning, a hospital reflects on what quality means to them and how they concretely fulfill it. It ensures that both staff and patients know what to expect and what is expected of them. That excellent basic care is part of the standard package is considered normal by us.

Positioning Embodies Hospital Identity

We use vague terms like culture and identity to discuss a concept that’s very close to us: the feeling we’re left with after a visit or contact. What makes you come home (dis)satisfied? Often, it’s the little details, for example, how the receptionist books the follow-up appointment, whether there was a pleasant atmosphere, or maybe a nice music playing? If we ask you to rate a visit afterward, you might not mention these, but we’re sure they influence your experience. Culture and identity determine whether you feel at home somewhere. That’s why it’s crucial for hospitals in their positioning to be clear about their identity and make it as concrete as possible. The receptionist then knows which behavior fits the appointment booking, and the rest of the staff knows that patients deserve a smile.

Positioning Talks About Hospitals’ Distinctive Capability

Cosmetic surgeon Robert Schumacher – yes, the one from TV – is in reality not a surgeon, but we all know his specialty. For hospitals, this might also be a source of distinctive capability: in what does your hospital excel? Doctors and specialists are also unique, and so are their skills. One hospital may be better at, for example, bypass surgery than another, but this applies to other areas too. Some hospitals are breaking the stigma attached to ‘hospital food’ or place maximum value on genuinely personal contact. In positioning, a hospital reflects on the choices they make in this area: how do you stand out from the rest?


Positioning embodies much more than the aspects mentioned above, but we believe these 4 examples have sparked your thinking. The trend has always been to become as well-rounded as possible, but that never creates a story worth ‘writing home about.’ By working on a central (and clear) positioning, a hospital can make clear to everyone – all stakeholders – which choices it has made and why. Above all, it can explain what this delivers for both the patient and society, which is undoubtedly where we all want to go.

The saying “if you don’t take a position, one will be assigned to you” applies maximally here. And in practice, the assigned positioning is too often not the desired one. Good luck changing that!

Bestel het boek