A recent venture between the Cleveland Clinic and Cox Communications can teach Nonprofit Healthcare Organizations a lot about strategic partnerships.
Unlike many other industries that might respond to economic or regional ups and downs, healthcare always seems constant. Of course it’s got its debatable [political and otherwise] aspects, but there’s no denying that we’ll always have a need for it. There’s a stability and security in healthcare that attracts professionals and loyal brand advocates. And it’s that exact same steadfast nature that is attracting other businesses in vastly different industries.
Cox Communications, America’s third-largest cable/broadband provider recently announced a new venture with the Cleveland Clinic to form Vivre Health, a service aimed at developing in-home healthcare services. According to parties at both Cox and the Cleveland Clinic, the project is rooted in Cox’s technology innovations—a phrase that doesn’t sound out of place in the copy you might see on a hospital website. The point is, even though Cox isn’t a healthcare provider, it isn’t a far leap for the company to find a place within the industry.
So what is Vivre Health and how does it work? Well, there aren’t too many details yet. But according to Cox, “the plan is to foster in-home monitoring and treatment, such as video consultation via broadband and home use of equipment to monitor and manage recovery from surgery. That could cut down on costly in-person visits to doctors and hospitals.” That kind of sounds like a no-brainer when you hear it put that way, right? They’re a leading communications company putting its best resources into something that could potentially reach [and positively effect] a huge audience.
This isn’t exactly the first healthcare move for Cox. In certain markets, the company offers entire Healthcare service lines on their website. It isn’t really anything they aren’t already doing, but the language speaks directly to decision-makers at health-centric businesses. They talk about helping physicians respond faster and more effectively to patient needs. They offer clinics streamlined communications and compliant-friendly secure networks. Like I said before, Cox has always offered these benefits to businesses, but targeting that hospitals and speaking to them in them words they’ll understand and respond to better positions the communications provider as a resource. All of a sudden, they aren’t just a cable company — they are the perfect partner for a healthcare organization looking to reach more people with better efficiency.
Which brings me to my point: Nonprofit Healthcare Organizations can do more with strong, savvy partnerships. Just by operating within your industry, you’re holding more cards than you might think. And frankly, you’re an attractive opportunity for a commutations company like Cox. And why is that? Because people need you.
I’ll make this a little personal for a second and maybe you’ll better understand. I work in branding and I choose to specialize in healthcare branding because I see the true value in it: the stability, the reach, and the ability to really make a difference in the lives of others. But if I look at from the NPHO’s point of view, their partnership with me is mutually beneficial for different reasons: they’re getting their house in order, they’re refining their messaging, and they’re finding a renewed sense of self. So how can you go about finding a partnership that helps propel you forward? Here are 5 tips for partnering with outside businesses.
1. Have real goals. It’s not enough to just want to be bigger or be more tech-friendly, or create something new and innovative. Figure out what you really want for your organization. Do you want to break into a new market? Reach a new audience? Maintain a better online presence.
2. Set real timelines. Most organizations start to stagnate after tip #1. They have that big meeting and scribble things down on the dry erase board and then the objectives die within 24 hours. So decide right then when you want to have things done on a week-to-week basis. Give people action items and hold people accountable. Because if you want to find a partner outside of your industry to work with, you’ve got to seem like you’ve you stuff in order.
3. Seek out businesses with similar values. If you’re going to work together, you’ve got to have similar vision. Just because your potential partner isn’t in the same field as you doesn’t mean you can’t believe in the same basic principles. You new venture should feel collaborative, so you need to know that you can see eye to eye.
4. Make something innovative together. Use Cox and the Cleveland Clinic as an example. They saw a niche, they pooled their resources, and they created something tangible and innovative. What are you best assets? How can you use another business in a different industry to amplify those assets.
5. Tell people about the project. We only know about the Cox/Cleveland Clinic partnership because they sent out press releases and contacted the media. And now we’re using them as an example of strategic partnerships. You can have the same influence if you harness publicity.
More than anything, the greatest thing a NPHO can learn from the Cox/Cleveland Clinic partnership is that the right relationship can send a message. It tells the public that you’re thinking strategically. And it lets your patients, supporters, donors, and fans know that you’re working hard to create a better experience for them.
The healthcare industry isn’t going anywhere. So be the leader that companies in other industries can look to for direction.
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