The unique value proposition in private healthcare

How important is having a unique value proposition in private healthcare? Do our private healthcare providers offer anything “unique”?

In the private healthcare sector, how many private hospital and private healthcare companies have identified what their UVP is AND communicate this to their target audience? The UK private hospital market is dominated by 5 “brands” – BMI Healthcare, Nuffield Health, Spire Healthcare, Ramsay Health Care and HCA Healthcare. But if we examine these five businesses and their key brand messages do any of them stand out? Have any of them clearly identified their competitive advantage?

Let’s take a look.

Key messages

A visit to each of the leading providers’ web sites gives you an idea of how they see themselves, and presumably how they want their customers to see them:

  • BMI Healthcare is “Serious about health. Passionate about care”.
  • Nuffield Health… it’s difficult to tell. There’s no clear brand message. There’s a few that could become the base of their UVP: “Our patients feel better faster”. “More than just hospital care”.
  • Spire Healthcare says we’re “Looking after you” and “Let our dedicated and highly-skilled team take care of you.”
  • Ramsay Health Care has a variety of messages – “Local healthcare, international quality”, “Our secret to really great healthcare... is simply our people” and “Excellent healthcare -  don’t just take our word for it...”
  • HCA Healthcare also has a variety of messages “Rapid access to world class consultants”, “Bringing children back to better is what we do”, “Our team’s wealth of expertise will ensure you get the right care”.

Unlike businesses in other areas, it’s not clear (to me!) what these healthcare businesses see as their UVP.

So... what is a unique value proposition?

Your unique value proposition:

  • explains how you solve a problem or meet a customer need.
  • highlights specific benefits of your product or service offering.
  • tells the potential customer why they should buy from you.
  • communicates how you are different from/better than your competition.

Your UVP is the sweet spot between - what you can offer, what others are not offering and what your customers need. So, what's yours?

If you’re in the private healthcare business – running a hospital or a healthcare business, in charge of marketing a private practice or a clinic - take a few minutes to write it down.

Now score it against the four statements above. Do you score 4 out of 4? What's missing?

Common mistakes in creating a unique value proposition

Take a look at the web sites of the five major providers and the key messages that I extracted above. Ask yourself what is the UVP of each of these private healthcare providers? How do they score against the four criteria?

A common failing in healthcare marketing is not communicating a clear and differentiated UVP.

Here are the most frequent mistakes:

  • It’s about me, not you

Many examples in the healthcare sector tell the customer. "this is what we do" not this is what we can do for you. They don't focus on customer benefits. They focus on the provider's products and services.

  • It’s not unique

In private healthcare, nearly everyone sells the same thing... “excellent healthcare”, “outstanding quality” (whatever that means). There's little competitive differentiation. You need to ask what makes you different or better than your competitors? Why should the patient choose your hospital/clinic/service? Of the messages extracted above, only one “Our patients feel better faster” from Nuffield Healthcare has the beginnings of what could be the basis of a differentiated UVP.

  • It’s confused

Many providers appear to adopt a multitude of messages in an attempt to cover all bases.

  • It doesn’t say what I (the customer) will get

The customer is the focus of successful marketing. It's not about you, your hospital, your clinic, your technology, or your doctors. It's about how you will meet the customer's need. Never forget that, and always focus on what you will deliver that meets that need.

How to discover your UVP

To create your UVP, you really need to understand your customers and what they are looking for. So, here is a simple suggestion to help you to think like a customer.

Go out in to your hospital or clinic waiting area. Go and chat to a few of your customers (…patients), and ask them to complete the following sentences in their own words:

  • I came to your hospital/clinic because...
  • The things I value most about your service are...
  • You're better than competing hospitals and clinics because...

You may be surprised by what they say. And their responses may give you some insight into what your unique value proposition should be.


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The unique value proposition in private healthcare

About the author

Keith Pollard is Executive chairman of LaingBuisson, an online publisher in the healthcare sector that operates market-leading web portals such as Private Healthcare UK and . LaingBuisson International Limited is also active in the online medical travel sector through Treatment Abroad, International Medical Travel Journal and DoctorInternet, the Arabic medical tourism portal. View for my full profile.

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