In your image
Ramping up anesthesiologists’ unique role with branding.
In the lead-up to the beginning of Monday’s session “Branding the Specialty of Anesthesiology: Why and How,” Jimi Jamison’s “I’m Always Here” was playing on loop. The music is from the popular 1990s T.V. series “Baywatch.”
The music appropriately set the stage for a discussion of improving recognition of the role and importance of anesthesiologists in the minds of patients, health care professionals, hospital administrators, and legislators at the state and national levels.
Traditionally, anesthesiologists “quietly” perform their jobs in the preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative environment. With effective delivery on their missions, they are often underappreciated by the public and policymakers for the important roles they play on a patient’s behalf.
To that end, patients often do not even recognize that anesthesiologists are physicians with 12,000 to 16,000 hours of training.
Smitha Arekapudi, MD, ScM, FASA, a Chicago anesthesiologist, said she never really appreciated the role of branding and advertising until she attended business classes when she made the connection to her specialty. Using that perspective, she shared the importance of effective branding and why anesthesiologists should engage with it.
Dr. Arekapudi showed a branded brown bag that was left in the lunchroom of her organization from an association claiming CRNAs were “the original anesthesia experts.” Even though she paused over the slogan, she credited it for being effective in communicating a simple message that evoked emotion and painted a picture for the patient.
She said an effective brand will allow anesthesiologists to define and “own their message and image instead of others defining it for us.”
“It helps you be known and to connect with patients, surgeons, administrators, legislators, and all stakeholders, emotionally as well as with data,” Dr. Arekapudi said. “It helps to remind them that we are invaluable and irreplaceable physicians, and are the competitive edge over any competitors, pseudo-competitors, or proposed disruptors.”
“Branding reminds people accurately what’s what and who’s who. Let’s be acknowledged more, be more visible, and make them listen,” she said.
Phillip J. Richardson, MD, MBA, FASA, FACHE, an anesthesiologist from Irvine, California, explored trust-building in the pursuit of effective branding. “Brands help people find solutions quickly, but building trust comes with the sum of the patient experience and kept promises over time. People remember how you made them feel, not what you said,” he said.
The job of building trust doesn’t stop there, he said. You must be continuously improving with additional training, educating surgeons and patients, and making sure you understand how the message is perceived. You must also continue to innovate by making your OR efficient, using new techniques and equipment, and developing new processes to improve safety and efficiency.
Adam B. Striker, MD, FASA, 2023 Chair of the ASA Committee on Communications, wrapped up the session with an update on ASA’s “Made for This Moment Campaign,” initiated in 2020 to show the impact of anesthesiologists on patient safety, patient outcomes, and health care quality.
Targeting health care executives and policymakers through digital marketing and direct outreach, the messaging focuses on maintaining physician-led anesthesia care by targeting areas most threatened by its elimination.
Dr. Striker provided updates on those efforts and the effectiveness of the early stages. He said next up is to target and engage ASA members because they are critical to the mission.
Coincidentally, the alternate title for that Baywatch theme song “I’m Always Here” is “I’ll Be Ready” – another fitting message for all anesthesiologists.