August 26, 2013, 9:44 AM — Executives at Vanguard Health Systems wanted the Nashville-based healthcare organization to grow -- but knew they didn't have the insight into current or potential customers to make it happen.
So in late 2011, following the arrival of a new chief strategy officer and a new chief marketing officer, Brian Barnes and his team set out to gather and analyze the data required to gain that insight.
"We wanted to know: How do you solve the problem of not knowing why people are coming to your facilities, or why not? Looking at the data [allows us] to figure out who we should even talk to," says Barnes, who is Vanguard's vice president of growth and innovation.
Vanguard also wanted to foster a stronger digital presence. "We needed to take advantage of the latest Web technologies, because we weren't leveraging our Web footprint to leverage our brand," Barnes says.
To achieve those objectives, in late 2012 the organization launched the Vanguard Health IDology platform. The platform includes CRM analytics, Google analytics and search engine optimization, Web and mobile content management, and appointment-scheduling software. It identifies target populations for Vanguard's marketing efforts, including online campaigns.
Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research, says many organizations are still learning how to unlock the value of the information they have. "Everyone knows there's value in the data, but they don't know if their investment in it will yield results," he says.
Barnes says the challenges his team had to contend with included figuring out how to ensure the availability and verify the quality of multiple data streams. Support from the chief marketing officer and the chief strategy officer was instrumental in pushing his team forward.
The result has been much more focused marketing initiatives that have brought in $62 million in new revenue. "We wanted to make sure we target the right person," says Barnes, "and now we can because it's all backed up by data."
Vanguard Health wouldn't disclose the company's investment in its IDology project, but officials say that it has helped generate $62 million in new net revenue since its 2012 launch, and they expect further new revenue growth in the future.