Breaking Out from the Pack as an Health Care Innovator

Breaking Out from the Pack as an Health Care Innovator

NorthShore University HealthSystem (formerly Evanston Northwestern Healthcare) was one of the first U.S. health systems to implement an electronic health record (EHR) system.

It wanted to leverage this achievement to build its reputation in Chicago’s highly competitive health care market. NorthShore also wanted to showcase its EHR investment in Washington, DC, where it was embroiled in a federal anti-trust investigation following the acquisition of its third hospital.


Given the complexity and newness of EHRs, Padovani Communications took a tandem approach: In everyday language, we explained just what the EHR was and how it worked. Padovani Communications also showcased the technology’s value, especially quantifiable benefits in safety, quality and cost. We personalized and humanized the positioning by recruiting patients, physicians and nurses as spokespeople.

Putting the messaging into action, Padovani Communications developed a corporate video and patient brochure, implemented a media relations campaign, applied for major industry awards and held two events with leaders from Washington and the health care industry at NorthShore’s flagship Evanston Hospital.


NorthShore significantly raised its leadership position locally and nationally. A nine-month outreach campaign culminated in NorthShore’s Dr. Del Castillo sitting next to President George W.  Bush during a panel discussion about EHRs at the Cleveland Clinic. NorthShore also won two prestigious healthcare awards, HIMSS’ Davies Award and the CHIME Collaboration Award.  We secured more than 40 local and national news stories about NorthShore’s EHR, including a front-page Sunday Chicago Tribune, two Chicago NBC-TV affiliate features, Associated Press story that ran in 157 newspapers, Consumer’s Digest piece, National Journal profile and several cover stories in health care trades.

These efforts laid the groundwork for continuing recognition. For example, NorthShore’s Chief Executive Mark Neaman was selected in 2009 as IT CEO of the Year by HIMSS and received the American College of Healthcare Executives’ Gold Medal Award.