As Private Healthcare “Goes Mainstream”, Communications Will Be Key in Determining Which Providers Come Out Ahead

With the stress that COVID-19 has put on our healthcare system, provinces are looking more to private firms to provide care. Diagnostics. Telehealth. Homecare. And most recently, elective surgery. In Alberta, Bill 30 would accelerate provincial approval of private surgical facilities—the province is hoping to complete an additional 80,000 elective procedures over the next three years. Manitoba is also looking at private companies to help tackle its backlog of 5,500 elective surgeries. In Ontario, the passage of Bill 175 would allow private players to take over home and community care.

This evolution represents a significant brand opportunity—and certain firms can emerge as leaders if they take this opportunity. But they must act now. This is a critical time for these companies as markets shift, relationships form, and contracts are signed.  

LifeLabs is one example of the kind of brand position and consumer perception that private healthcare firms want to achieve. Diagnostics is an area of private care that has gained a solid foothold in Canada, and LifeLabs, supported by DCM, is Canada’s largest private diagnostics provider—the company performs over 112 million lab tests a year.

Faced with this “branding crossroads”, private healthcare providers must think very critically about their value proposition and communications—and they must do so at two levels:

  • At an industry level: These companies are having to “break into” a traditionally social system that largely views private healthcare as elitist. These firms need to actively address this attitude, and communicate to Canadians that, similar to private diagnostic services, private surgical providers have a role to play in delivering effective, timely care.
  • At an individual level: Each company must differentiate its services and set itself apart from competitors. Moreover, how each company conducts itself as governments tackle the current pandemic backlog will set the groundwork for decision-making around future government contracts.

Public healthcare in Canada will always remain a priority and provide vital front-line services and acute care. That is the public system’s core strength. With that in mind, private providers of elective treatment need to focus on their strength: offering the best possible experience.