Hospital Naming Trends

In the past three years, nearly a hundred healthcare institutions have decided to rebrand under a new name. Several forces are driving this trend.

Emphasis on health

First and foremost, hospitals are expanding to embrace a multitude of services; in fact many are becoming healthcare ecosystems. In Coeur d’Arlene, Idaho, for example, the long-standing Kootenai Medical Centre recently changed its name to Kootenai Health.

Along with an emphasis on the entire organization, Kootenai Health better reflects the range of offerings and network of regional clinics under its umbrella. Including the word “health” also shifts the focus from a place where illness and disease are treated to the positive outcome of treatment.

Getting past clunky

User-friendliness is another factor driving hospital re-branding. A name can be so clunky that it never catches fire. Fourteen years ago, two hospitals in Lincoln, Nebraska merged: Bryan Memorial and Lincoln General. Unfortunately, the adopted name, BryanLGH, proved so difficult to remember that locals continued to use the original names.

Compounding matters, the hospital expanded its services beyond Lincoln. The new name, Bryan Health, was not only easier to remember but less Lincoln-centric. Similar issues motivated North Shore-LIJ to change its name from North Shore-LIJ to Northwell Health.

Beyond mergers, business restructuring can also prompt the need for a name change. This happened when The Franciscan Physician’s Hospital changed from a for-profit partnership owned by physicians to a non-profit organization. The new name, Franciscan Healthcare Munster, retains the unique historical brand while simultaneously highlighting the community served and emphasizing the goal of healthcare.

Spirit of the times

That said, there is a tendency to move away from religiously informed names. These names can be viewed as exclusionary and can feel out-of-step with today’s more secular values.

But whatever the reason for a hospital name change, the new moniker, like all good brand names, should be easy to say, easy to remember, and easy to spell. It should also complement current sensibilities, allow room for expansion, and above all emphasize wellness over illness.

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